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And We Are Away – Camino Mark 2.0

Hola Amigos!

AND just like that Camino 2.0 has crept up.

AND I cannot wait. Ok I can because I’m in post holiday nesting mode … but it’s happening regardless so best I get my shell out, pack the day pack and find my flow.

Tomorrow I will fly into Santiago de Compostela to hike a round trip of 240kms with a friend from camino 1.0  – Frank the tank.

Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia – Santiago.

I’ve booked my first night at an old seminary in Santiago. I’m super excited about travelling to the end of the world by foot while raising awareness for One Girl Australia and challenging myself to grow into some of the scary things that make me nervous.

Ahhh the bliss of long days on the trail … the endless horizons, fellow hiker stories, smiles and laughter, the kindness, the purpose, the joy of simply walking – freedom.

If you want to help spread the word about One Girl please feel free by sharing this story with friends and posting it on your socials! It worked a treat last time. Heck, maybe even approach the big boss at work if you think they are looking to #giveashit in the world and support an AWESOME cause.

Or here’s an idea … sign yourself up to #doitinadress. You’ll tick off a challenge as well as changing one girl’s world. Life changing stuff all round right there.

Standing for girl’s education. YEAH. Let’s DO this! My mum just took the hem up on my school dress and Zoë just hand wrote the details on the One Girl cards I’ll be carrying. My girls … where would I be without them.

See you all from the WAY. This last chapter to the end of the world Finisterre. Who will we meet this time? What will unfold as we step into this camino story? Where will it take us?

Adventure bound. We.Are.On. Like an up beat song!

Buen Camino friends,

Fran xxx

Follow on Instagram here.

Support the education of girls in Africa here.

Thanks for my El Camino People Bracelets Jose! I have a few to share on the trail and my kids will be wearing them at school while I’m away.

If you‘re new here or would to catch up on Camino 1.0 here’s the story. It was written from the trail on my iPhone in the early hours during April/May 2018.

Day 0 From St Jean Pied de Port

Day 1 From Orrison

Day 2 From Roncevalles

Day 3 From Larrosoaña

Day 4 From Zariquiegui

Day 5 From Lorca

Day 6 Los Arcos

Day 7 Logroño

Day 8 Nájera

Day 9 Grañón

Day 10 Villafranca

Day 11 Cardeñuela Ríopico

Day 12 Rabé de las Calzadas

Day 13 Castrojeriz

Day 14 Población de Campos

Day 15 Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 16 Bercianos del Real Camino

Day 17 Mansilla de las Mulas

Day 18 León

Day 19 Hospital del Órbido

Day 20 Santa Catalina

Day 21 El Acebo

Day 22 Camponaraya

Day 23 Ruitelán

Day 24 Trìacastela

Day 25 Portomarín

Day 26 O Coto 

Day 27 Salcedo

Day 28 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

A few days rest in Santiago

Week 5 Finisterre by bus

Other related posts:

Why the camino for one girl

How to help?

Beyond – I’m going back to finish things off

Summer Camper Trip – Foz, Spain.

What is it they say about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? Foz was beautiful. Not classically. Not in an eye popping with wonder every where you look type way. In a presence kind of way. Galicia was my favorite region walking the camino. It can be wild, rugged, overgrown and rundown but baby it’s ALIVE. It’s a region of growers and makers with green pastures and buildings of past eras. It’s not for everyone I’m sure. But I love these ancient Celtic lands with her wind spirit that mesmerizes and opens me in the way Ireland also did.

Towards the end of the school year I became friendly with one of the mums at school who is Spanish. She mentioned to me they were going to be in Foz and encouraged me to stop by if we were passing. The timing worked in more ways than simply hitting this part of Spain at the same time. The joy of synchronicity was ever present in this stop.

We planned to stay in an Aire (a motor home park) for the first two nights. A €13 (with power) and washing machines kind of place. It wasn’t particularly inspiring but we could see the beach, the kids could run and I would cry as my back became unbearable. I knew it was muscular but obviously when something gets worse in a foreign country it starts to gets a bit unnerving. I messaged my friend who replied straight away saying her sister was a Dr and they’d pop over. Can you believe it? A Sunday night house call – in a motorhome park ;). I had since put a disposable hot pack (excellent first aid kit staple) on it and was already feeling a tad better. Turns out it was muscular and I was prescribed some strong ibuprofens which in Spain are easily obtained over the counter. Of course! This is camino country where 600mg of ibuprofen is standard.

The medication worked a treat and the next day I was able to walk into town with Greg and the kids for an unplanned explore. I had envisaged a long lunch – a Galician food feast. I was quite taken with this town. Again not because of its beauty but it’s soul. It’s pride in who it was. A fisherman’s village with a strong, proud community. It’s permanent photo exhibition – ‘the photo albums of our grandparents’. And, when gardens are growing food not manicured lawns – I’m quite sure the world is in a good place!

Did we have a Galician feast? Yes friends we surely did! The kids were super obliging and tried everything … although they did order burgers. It was such a delicious afternoon. I’d rather camp for free and every now and then, indulgently, eat out. I did do something I don’t normally do … I looked at restaurant reviews when it was time for lunch. My sister was adamant about this on the camino and we ate pretty well! In tourist towns it can be easy to get a shit meal. When your traveling with four kids and don’t often eat like this – good food matters (to me anyhow).

My back survived a day of walking and we moved ourselves over to a beach car park – for nada, of course! It was cruisy and relaxed. If you want to beat the Euro crowds in summer … you won’t find them here. Only Spaniards holiday here. In fact we’ve only come a cross a handful of other nationalities. The local baker even drives through with fresh bread at the respectable time of 10am! Just as we’re beginning to rise. We are completely on Spanish time now ;). Living the dream you say … but wait – there’s more!

So you know I’m reading a truckload. Well I just finished Sheila O’Flanagan’s ‘The Hideaway’ set in the province of Alicante in Valencia, Spain. Today I lived my favourite and most heartwarming scenes from the book. My Spanish friend invited us over for a drink at her family’s summer finca (farm). More than sipping local wine it was also a taste of Spanish life. Tortilla de Patatas (gooey and creamy, the BEST ever) & Pimientos de Padrón cooked by abuela herself … all bucketed down from the kitchen. I practiced my Spanish which is basically still single words but I loved the feeling of being embraced by the inherent warmth of a big Spanish familia. I left with two beautiful Hydrangea flowers – gifts from abuela. My favourite flowers.

Yes, a PINCH myself, this JUST happened kind of day and stay in Foz! Perhaps Australia or Ireland won’t be where we find that place to see our our retirement years, the cottage with abundant gardens and horizons for days … perhaps the warmth of Spain is starting to seep into my pores. But … it doesn’t have to happen straight away – the dream can be a dream (in the dream pool with all the others). Life can reflect the values I love about that style of living (even in the city). Omg I’ve changed! I didn’t even look up real estate :) The dream pool is amazing but living in today is amazing’er. It’s a slow built this dream of mine, the one where a book like The Hideaway could be set! And, of course you’d all be welcome the dinner table will always be ready and gardens overflowing.

Buen Camino friends … towards the dramatic coastline with a heart full and a back that is feeling loads better.

Fran xxx

Camper tips!

Make sure you have insulation for the front windows. We didn’t last time. This time, yes! The entire camper is dark until we wake – BONUS helps with Spanish time. And it’s neither freezing nor boiling first thing. A huge difference.

Summer Camper Trip – Posada de Valdeón, Spain

‘And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.’ – Pico Lyer

My love affair with travel extends far beyond the beauty of new places and people. I have no bucket list. I have a lust for the affair. And it’s no wonder I’ve created a life that has revolved around this affair. Without it my soul is starved – without adventure there’s no oxygen. However, the great climax of this affair is the never ending path it opens up. The next adventure. The return to life with new perspectives and motivations. And let’s face it most of us still need to return to a routined, stable life. We do! With four kids, two of high school age, a mortgage and retirement to think about.

It has always felt indulgent and privileged to write about and experience travel in the way I do. I’ve decided to not allow that to hold me back from exploring it in writing. In the past I have. And I believe I must because I’m all about living life (everyday life) as an ongoing adventure filled with exploration and growth. To ignore the influence travel plays in my life is not the whole story, not my story. I never want to contribute to a landscape of encouraging people to lust after something, but rather to find their own way. Yet, so much of who I am comes from my need to wander and why. My desire to wander daily with love and lust for the beauty of life. All of life.

These past few years have been quite an expedition. Mostly, I’ve embraced the notion of finding freedom, of removing the shackles of expectations. And of releasing myself from what I thought life would or should look like. In these mountains – the Picos de Europa I leapt froward. I hiked on my own (which I do) and as I was enraptured by the wild beauty, scared (of the wild boars) when I started walking through a bracken covered dense trail, hurt when I fell on my back descending the mountain and strengthened when I navigated the map – I was also completely at peace. At peace with the joy, unknown, fear and pain.

I was as close to myself as I could get out there in those mountains. And I didn’t sleep that night … rather, I lay awake. Not awake over analyzing thoughts but excited by new thoughts and ideas. Excited about what comes next for me. This next transition as I choose to leave doubts behind and become a stronger woman. A warrior woman who hugs fear. On that mountain fear become my mirror and for me, staring at fear is as honest as it gets.

What a delightfully endearing town this is. A place where the children could play in our €10 per night camper spot surrounded by mountains. The children were invited to play soccer with locals. A place where we met a camper family from NZ who had been on the road for 17 months! We were so enthralled by their stories, particularly their love of Sardinia and their generosity in sharing their experiences. I finished reading a manuscript written by a friend, what a sacred privilege, it had me inspired and dreaming of possibilities in my own kitchen and garden. I was taken with the locals working and playing with their hands. And that strikes me as something we need to consider – what we doing with our hands. One thought I’ll be taking forward with me.

Buen Camino lovelies,

F xx

Camper tips:

Cosy! Don’t forget COSY. You can have movie nights, snuggle and make TUE popcorn. Sometimes if you’re lucky and there’s a restaurant in view you can leave your kids to watch the movie and dine out on scrumptious, local fare. Of course the first setting isn’t until 9pm – because Spain!

Why compete or compare? Let’s not. Say ‘no’, start there.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 9/28

Today’s recipe: Roasted eggplant.

I’m often saddened when I read posts about FOMO or feeling bad about what others post or the need for posters who have audiences to say ‘this is my highlight reel’. Seriously … WHY? Why be scared of missing out? Or why compare ourselves we others lives. Why do we need to be told that we shouldn’t feel bad because of what you post? What has happened to us? Why can’t we separate what we see with what our own reality is? Honestly … it perplexes me. And you know why? Because why would anyone have it better? We ALL have feelings and stuff right? Or are we special? Are we the only ones who in a day can live through every emotion that exists?

I took this photo from my bike (because this is a bike adventure series). I was balancing the fruit and veg in my basket and my panniers. My youngest … my baby, with his hands on my hips as I dunk him on the back of the bike was singing his heart out … we’d been at the market (real food) … shopped with bags I’d re-used (zero waste) … to the left a violinist was playing (romantic and European) … the season is summer (smiles in The Netherlands) … summer also means festivals and food vans (reminds me of Berlin Lix) … I was on my bike (my carbon omission free transport)… shopping done (food till next market day) … my daughter was smiling (tough week) … my husband is hiking in the ALPS (he loves that stuff, he even posted a story, he never does that, so happy for him) … dinner was covered (same recipe as last Saturday) … I’m writing (you’re reading) … that’s a whole lot of good stuff there! And sure, neither of us, husband and I are on our career trajectory (adjusting that)… we’ve had some shit to deal with since arriving here (that’s life) … our family isn’t close by (I miss my mum) … our identities are being challenged (starting fresh) …. we are having to make a choice, here or home (where’s home?) … but THIS, in this bike moment … it’s all ok, more than ok … this is as good as life gets.

Let me paint you some pictures of my day.

I could tell you about each photo or we could just talk about our days. There’s no perfection, there’s just life. Every day life. I bet both of us experienced some similar feelings. If you’ve read this far I presume we’re already connected in some way so let’s make a deal … let’s be working on our own nests. Moving forward, moving our furniture, learning to say no, learning to let go, learning to care more, to care less, be honest about what we need, slow down, speed up, walk, ride, dance, run, swim, talk, paint, write, cook, sew, love … whatever we need to move forward with … let’s work on that, let’s move and not worry about what others are doing. Let’s just agree to not compete or compare. Sounds easy right? But dig deeper. Every time we speak or act … let’s ask ourselves the question am I competing or comparing? Because if we are we’ll always be a step behind ourselves. And don’t we want to be present and contented with ourselves? In our own life.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow writer. One of my favorites actually and I shared some of my story ideas. And I didn’t care. I used to be protective of my ideas and today I shared them, gave her my quotes, analogy’s, everything. If she runs with and writes something because she read them … boom that’s a win. Neither of us own ideas. Especially those of us who write about and live life. We learn by experience and our human experience is actually not that different. We’re bound to cover the same ground. But when we share and talk without being held by the constraints of competition or comparison or even fear we choose a deeper path. I prefer those kinds of conversations, the ones we walk away from feeling good.

All competing and comparing does (with ourselves or others) is to stunt us and hold us hostage from living freely in our own lives. And for those of us who are parents … it can stunt us from hearing our own kids.

Recipe time – Roasted eggplant.

The head cold is still lingering. It’s why you’re not seeing hiking photos! But motion is in my mind, determination is in my day and because I write this blog – honesty matters, so I’m cooking.

My Buddha bowls haven’t been in play this week so I’m prepping. The week’s bowls (well 4 of them) will have eggplant at the centre.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant or aubergines (I had two to use)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary

How I prep’d them:

Slice the eggplants in half. Slice into the flesh diagonally creating diamonds … three diagonal lines left to right and swap.

Top with salt, let sit … at least an hour.

Squeeze and wipe the salted juice off.

Coat flesh with olive oil and place upside down on a twig of rosemary on a tray. (I use and re-use baking paper.)

Bake for an hour.

Serve as a side with a lemon or some balsamic & oil or I’ll show you how I use them through the week in Buddha bowls.

Buen camino,

Fran xxx

What happens to writers as they expose themselves is purposeful, they are growing themselves by writing.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 7/28

Today’s recipe: A Dutch Sweet Sandwich.

Wednesday’s are a half (school) day here in The Netherlands. The kids finish at 12.30 and are home in time for lunch. I often still send them with lunch on their bags on a Wednesday – even after almost a year of living here. Old habits! It is one of my favourite days and one of my favourite ways to lunch is as the Dutch do. The table is laid out with the toppings, a boiled egg, bread and everyone makes their own (even the little hands). As a treat the milk is chocolate flavoured and mine love when it is served warm. As a special treat after the first sandwich there is a sweet treat! A sweet Dutch sandwich. It’s even sweeter for me because it reminds me of my childhood, growing up in Australia in a migrant Dutch family with a table full of kids.

Wednesdays are also the mid week market day in my village. After using all the left over veggies in the cous cous last night I needed to top up the shelves. For something different I asked my Greek friend Lexie to join me. We started with coffee and a chat (naturally) and then proceeded to shop for our fruit and veg. It was a super cool way to hang out. She was surprised by my reusing of paper bags and I was surprised that she smells the produce before she buys it! Of course she had me smelling the produce and I had her promising that next week she would re-use her bags.

We bought donut peaches it’s summer here peep’s! She also bought beans, loads of them. We talked about how she will cook them and I bought rhubarb and talked to her about how I will cook that. I didn’t buy any beans and she didn’t buy rhubarb :) Creatures of food habits that we are! Maybe next week. I think I will stew her a sample of rhubarb to try on her Greek yoghurt. We both agreed we would shop together at the market next Wednesday. And oh how we laughed during the morning!

My favourite Dutch Sweet Treat Toastie!

Toast with peanut butter, sliced strawberries and mint! I don’t always add mint but there’s mint in my window sill and this morning Lexie had me smelling the mint at the market. It does have delicious smell don’t you think? It’s really beautiful as it hits your nose when you take a bite.

Eating peanut butter today was a bit like chilling with my slippers on. I love it! I can’t have it in the house because my husband is allergic …. but while he’s away I can relax ;).

Food it truly is one of the is one most wonderful ways to create memories and build relationships. I bet we can all share a food memory that makes us smile. My strawberry sweetie reminds me of my dad. He is the man of the Dutch strawberry sandwich, he even adds an extra sweetener … he tops his with sugar! The guy is 74, he’s never quitting sugar. But it was nice thinking of him and his strawberry sandwiches. I must call him. I don’t do that enough.

This little adventure of mine, the one where I’m letting my bike and food connect me to my day and community led to one of my proudest moments of the week! The one where I gave the kitchen to the junior master chef and guided her through my muffin recipe (including how to clean as I go). I then left her to cook dinner (she didn’t clean as she went). With great pride she plated up individual bowls of spag bol and each bowl was licked clean. Feeling pride is important don’t you think? She’d a tiring morning so I’m glad she got to feel that this afternoon. Also glad she had the space to feel and paint (below) how she felt. We all feel, happy and sad, energetic and tired, stressed and calm. We have a saying for clean bowls at our house ‘Opa clean‘. Opa, my dad, literally licks his plate clean. Oh wow there’s another dad story, I really must call him.

Can I go back to the first week of the project bit? Yes, it absolutely had been a week. Can you believe it? Somedays, I do wonder if I’m a nutter? Exposing a little of myself each day, perhaps sometimes even more between the lines than you read. What happens to writers as they expose themselves is purposeful, they are growing themselves by writing. Because you see the writing opens them up just a little more every time. Well that happens to me anyhow. Maybe some of you writerly types relate?

I decided this would be a 28 day project because it took me 28 days to walk the camino. And boy did that camino give to me. It taught me that in 28 days if you stick with something you can move a long way forward. 800kms across a country in fact, 28 girls with the freedom to go to school and a manual; a new way for me to get things done. So for memories and the one week anniversary’s sake I read the words I wrote on day 7/28 on my camino. Here are some of them …

‘We are always looking for way markers on the camino. Scallop shells, yellow painted arrows, sometimes concreted paths have bronze scallops or tiles and there’s the odd cairn. Some days arrows are lovingly created with rocks and adorned with flowers. We need these markers to help us find our way along the this path. The sweet path that’s winding it’s way through this romantic countryside. Way makers, hmm a nice take home from the camino to everyday life I think.

It’s easy here on the Camino to find my path. I’m looking for the scallop shells and yellow arrows and now I’m also looking for welcoming chairs and tables, inn keepers who smile and I’ll also be looking at rooms if it doesn’t feel right. Maybe the lesson here is that life can be simpler with the right way markers.’ ~ Fran Camino reflections.

And you know what I know? And what I remind myself if doubt creeps in? I simply remind myself that I’m not a nutter for dreaming because I’m a dreamer and I’m finding the right way markers. I know that because the people, the food, the connections they are all yellow and they pointing this way. I am giving to the people that matter the most, including myself. I feel a new sense of freedom because I’m unafraid of doubt. It’s one of the new strengths the camino gave me.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran x