Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, the way, Uncategorized, walking

Camino – How to Get There

In my previous blog I spoke on how to prepare to walk the Camino. In this blog I would like to share on how we actually got there.

As I have said it was a process of preparation over a 2 year process. Losing weight, gaining better health, studying, reading, and of course training by walking regularly were all a part of that process.

I checked on many sites to see what the cost would most likely be to walk the Camino as well as cost of food and accommodation.  We were living back in Australia at the time so an airfare to Europe was a great cost.

  1. So the first thing to consider is when will you undertake walking the Way?

As we don’t like crowds, we decided that either spring or autumn would be our preference to walk. Due to time constraints we settled on autumn. I am an autumn girl and love the colours of fall so this was really great for me.

Weather in Northwest Spain in October is usually warm but not hot, we found this to be so with some cooler days and nights. Generally it was pleasant. You can expect some rain (unless you travel with Paul – more on that later).   Galacia is Spain’s wettest region and on average,  rains 18 days out of 31 in October.  Santiago de Compostela averages between 64 degrees and average lows 55 degrees.

We found these temperatures to be pretty accurate with some fog in certain areas. Some times there were light showers as we headed out in the morning but by mid morning it would fine up to become sunny. Paul had a special anointing and was spoiled with the weather. He prayed because he hates wet feet and started believing for fine weather. Almost immediately the sun came out and stayed for nearly 3 weeks! We really only had a few days of heavier, uncomfortable rainfalls early on – hence the prayers. This is not normal, particularly in Galacia! So be prepared with wet gear and good weatherproof shoes!

The wind and changeable weather on the Pyrenees can not be underestimated and you need to be prepared for that.

We also liked that there was fewer people on the Camino. One issue starting mid autumn was the amount of albergues that were closed or closing for the season. Spring also has the same but reversed with some not being open yet for the start of the season. Winter there are even fewer albergues  open so a lot of research and preparation needs to be done! Summer has its own challenges with so many vying for a bed for the night and space on the walk.

2. You’ve chosen the season, now where are you going to start the walk?

Most choose the Frances Camino which starts most commonly from St Jean Pied de Port. We chose to warm up by walking two days from Bayonne. There are many other points of starting and ways to traverse, France and Spain. It is purely up to you which direction you start from and which way you head. We actually met a couple walking the Camino backwards, starting at Santiago and walking back to St Jean! We chose the most common route to begin with but who knows where we will go next time!

Some of our friends flew or trained it from Barcelona. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you want to start from.

3. You’ve chosen the season and the route, now how much is it going to cost?

The average day:

  1. AIRFARES – Of course this depends on where you are starting from. We flew from Sydney to Paris. From Paris we took a train trip down to Bayonne in the South of France where we actually walked two days to the jump off point of St Jean Pied De Port. From Santiago De Compostella, after having spoken to some people on the Way we decided to self-drive through Portugal and then across to Barcelona where we flew back to Paris. These are all costs that need to be allowed for.
  2. HOTELS – We slept mostly in the Albergues, the hostels that you will find in nearly every town you come to.  At that time of year and in 2015 the fees were about Euro 10-15 per bed per night. I see that some are saying currently it has risen to nearly Euro 30 per night We paid more for the odd hotel stay but rarely more than Euro Euro 30- 35 per night. We wanted to experience being with others but did enjoy the alone nights as well. Some paid much more when they arrived in Santiago staying in an up market hotel to celebrate their completion. On reflection I would do that too next time.  Because we hadn’t pre-booked we had to take what we could get. Summer would be much worse! It is up to you what you choose to pay but I would suggest getting more up to date costs before you head off. Some chose to camp along the Way too but I would be considering what you need to carry to do that!

3. FOOD – We set ourselves a 30 Euro a day budget each, but probably would be closer to 35 Euro per day. We found the Pilgrim meals, a three course meal most towns offer, for 13-15 Euro were fine and economical. We often bought lunch, cheese, bread or other foods, from the little food places or markets along the way. Sometimes we ate at a restaurant but they were fairly inexpensive. Tapas bars are a great way to eat economically too.  It’s your choice on your budget.

4. INCIDENTALS – We probably allowed 10 Euro per day for these including pharmacy items, but I would suggest shopping at larger stores as some of these were very expensive particularly when dealing in Euros.  Mostly I brought medicines and other items from Australia but you must consider the weight factor of carrying as opposed to buying along the Way.

All up our total budget for the two of us was 4000 Euros exclusive of return air fares to Australia and doesn’t include the cost of setting up your kit or travel insurance. This did include our train fare, hire car and flights to Paris to fly home and we had some cash left over. I would have preferred to train it back to Paris but we left the run too late and from an overnight fare costing 100 or so Euros, booking on the day of travel would have cost over 500 Euros – each! So we booked a cheap air fare and flew to Paris for lunch before our flight that night back to Australia. I could then say, “My husband flew me to Paris for lunch!”

These are suggestions and there are a lot of sites with up to date information which I again suggest you read. Some of the forums give great information but ultimately half the adventure and fun of the Camino journey is working it out as you go along!

Bein Camino!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Walking the Camino – How to Prepare

The Camino de Santiago is an 800 km or 500 mile walk through France and Spain. It is a pilgrimage walk that has been around for thousands of years that has many trails originating around Europe. It was said that you could step outside your door and begin the pilgrimage from anywhere in Europe. During the time of occupation by the Ottomans in Jerusalem the Way of St James became a safer pilgrimage and acceptable in the eyes of the church for pilgrimage absolution.

St James was supposedly buried there after having floated there from Jerusalem on a ruder-less boat. I don’t know about that. There are many beliefs surrounding the pilgrimage that many believe or don’t believe but there is one binding factor with nearly all pilgrims who we encountered or spoke to had one thing in common: the sense of being called to walk The Way!

Many including myself when they find out about the Camino Way have a strong sense that not only would they like to do the long walk but there is a strong feeling of “having” to do the walk.

For me it started after I watched the movie, “The Way”, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring his father Martin Sheen.  It is the story of a father who completes the trek after his son dies on the Way getting caught in bad weather: something that is a common occurrence as seen by the memorial headstones dotted along the pathways.

Once I saw the film I knew I had to do it. But at the time I was pretty much chair bound with illness and pain. However, within a couple of years I set the date to make the journey.

It was 2 years down the track, the year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and Paul turned 60. Also, it would give me time to gain my health back, while starting to train for the walk.

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In training in the Philippines. Early hours of the morning because past sun rise, the heat was too much.

One of the first thing I did was buy a pair of comfy training shoes. They were light, a size larger then I needed (to help with blisters), and didn’t confine my feet and cause pain. The first pair of shoes that didn’t cause me pain!

I walked in rain, in the cold, the heat, the day, the dark, by myself, and with others. The time rolled by as the miles did.

So here are some of the preparations myself and Paul underwent to prepare for the Camino.

  1. Set a date – Setting a date  brings the goal into focus and plans will begin to take shape.
  2. Train – Set up a training program and stick to it. I tried to do at least 6-8 kilometers a day more on others in any kind of weather, wet, cold, hot, everything except for thunderstorms – They were a no go!  I would also recommend stretches to build strength. The one I didn’t do enough of was to door more hill climbs.
  3. Carry a pack – The more I started to walk I would add weights to a pack to increase my ability to carry a pack. I even used coral rock in the Philippines to get used to the added weight.
  4. Study – Increase your knowledge of the paths you will follow. Understanding the terrain and what is ahead in terms of weather, and accommodation. Also understanding how diet and water affects walking.
  5. Purchase the correct equipment –

       –  Pack – We changed Paul’s pack right at the end. It has to have a waist band to                 take the weight and not pull on the shoulders.

–  Rainwear  – A good rain coat is important. We will probably go with the Atalaa next time. Our ponchos were ok but not great. They needed to be longer although they were light weight – always a consideration. The Atalaa people seemed to just cruise by unscathed by the weather on themselves or their packs.

Footwear – Of course it goes without saying – correct footwear is a must. I was told to go a size bigger and it worked. Two pairs of socks fill the gaps. Duct tape is a must. Prevents blistering!

Underwear. We opted mainly for bamboo socks and jocks. I would hope for a better fitting pair next time that dried quicker. Also undergarments that wick moisture away from your body too.

 – Poles – this is not last for any reason but they definitely were our definite bring along. Some did walk without them – good luck to them. I would never think of it! They were invaluable. Spring loaded were good but not particularly necessary. We didn’t go very expensive due to financial constraints and it really didn’t seem to make a difference, except the tips do wear out after 40 days of pounding. They can be purchased along the way.

6. Stay the course – There may be  road blocks or at least detours so persevere. Keep focused. Don’t give up!

 

 

 

Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, Uncategorized, walking, weight loss

Weight Loss Confusion!

Watching someone try to lose weight rapidly and discover the “journey” of weight loss and awareness of calories etc, has reminded me of just how consuming the whole concept of weight loss can be.

In 2012 when one of my daughters was encouraged to go on a Paleo diet for urgent health reasons, we both emptied our cupboards and cleansed! I also remember the absolute shock I felt as I discovered for years I had been looking at charts rather than the ingredients on products – sugars, salts, fats etc as compared to what was actually in the product. The shock stayed with me for months as I navigated the labyrinth of labels and what I thought were healthy alternatives only to discover they were laden literally with “poisons.”

I also remember the confusion of what is “healthy” and what diet is best etc. etc.

Here are 5 keys I have learned to help people maneuver  the “diet” world.

  1. Dieting sucks – lifestyle change has to be your mindset.

A “diet” insinuates a limited time span; a beginning and an end. Dietary changes have to be a life time mentality – unending. There may need to be a period of getting back on track or staying on track which requires a kick start but then you have to always be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth and why!

2.  Mindset is priority – Why do you overeat?

There is a whole psychology around overeating and I don’t intend to get in to it here as there are many reasons why people overeat: sadness, grief, rebellion, laziness, low self-esteem, comfort and the list continues. The benefit of a “time-frame” or health scare  can push us on-wards to changing our mindset to want to change our negative life habits permanently. That is only a kick start though and you have to realize this has to be a life style change – otherwise that weight will come back and stick like glue!

3.  Find what works for you – Find what will keep you motivated.

For me doing life in a gym or pool is never going to keep me motivated. Fresh air, meeting people, walking a dog, finding new paths, these are motivating and invigorating. Finding foods that work for me without making me feel I am missing out also helps keep me motivated. High allergies or intolerance from night shade plants, cause me some issues and can become frustrating but I have discovered that I love feeling well so not feeling well for the sake of a few mouthfuls is a high motivating factor! I really recommend initially working with a health professional to ensure there are no underlying issues and then find what will keep you motivated and interested in food control.

4.  Moderation – How much and what to eat!

There is so much confusion in terms of, “eat this – don’t eat that”. For example, eat eggs; don’t eat eggs. Eat butter; Don’t eat butter. Eat meat; Don’t eat meat. The lists go on. I believe God gave us everything to enjoy! It’s the over indulgence that is the issue for most western cultures. Limit the sugar, salt and fat products and you will see a change too.

So long as you use more then you put in you can keep the weight down. My husband, Paul has no issues with this one and really doesn’t understand my struggles  because he is constantly on the go and utilizes all he consumes. I on the other hand am more sedentary and have to work hard to do the same. My last few kilos I need to lose and have struggled with, mean I have to increase my burning and decrease my intake even more.

5. No Excuses

I can make all the excuses for why I am obese – too tired, too sick, too old, too much work but my health has to remain the utmost priority as it affects every area of my life. There is no excuse to maintain unhealthy life-style habits.

So these are 5 keys I have discovered over the past years of food issues and I will explore them more fully as I continue my journey of lifestyle habit changes.

Until next time – keep persevering. You don’t stop if you don’t stop!

Blessings Narelle

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Making it to the top of the ridge, following the thousands of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago or the Way who have passed this way before: a far cry from the couch potato of yesteryear! Determine today to follow the lead of those who have walked the paths of life style change!

 

Posted in Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey – Every day struggles – Perspective

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The ship that washed ashore..This took and saved lives. It crushed others while saving others as they crawled aboard as it was swept across the bay! 

 

November 2014

Over the past few days we had to do some business in Tacloban a larger city a hundred or so miles from where we are staying. It was the largest city hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda or Hyan.  This mammoth storm devastated so many lives. They will “celebrate” the anniversary in a few days’ time.

Over the past few days I got angry. We had so many issues with our telecommunications system here. The phone chewed through the internet and had no ‘load’ left after only a couple of days. I don’t want to go over it all again but just to say two days of phone calls and visits to the office resulted in us having a lot less money and more grey hairs. It made both of us so angry that we both let slip a couple of little words that aren’t full of grace. For Paul that is only the 2nd time in nearly 40 years I have heard him use a word like that..Mine was tame.. Told the girls on him! He was going to call to let them know about mine..but I wouldn’t give him the phone!

ANYWAY! You get the picture that we were a little close to boiling point. I have had to repent since. I was surprised at how angry I was over this small challenge. Then last night as we were finalizing our shopping for the center here in Pagnimitan village, I got caught up in the shopping center along with quite a few other people. We were glued to the huge television screen as they replayed some of the horrors of the Typhoon last year.

The devastation was unimaginable: Bodies lying uncovered or sparsely covered in the streets and under buildings. Demolished cities, towns, villages; Ships washed ashore (still there till now); no food, water or shelter.  Surges that took ships, large trees, buildings, people in its wake some never to be found again. It is hard to comprehend what they endured.

Recently I took a walk with a friend along the beach near the village around change of tide. Her fear was palpable as we watched and heard the waves crashing and the tide turning, rapidly pushing water through the narrow opening that passes by their village. The storm had surged and pushed the sea through their tiny village demolishing everything in its wake. She stopped walking on her way to the nearby “pool” – a coral swimming pool near the edge of the reef.

“Mam. I’m sorry mam. But I can’t go any further.” She couldn’t move any closer to where the waves were large and loud.

Fear is still real to these people with the memory of the roaring wind and water that wreaked havoc on their lives. That is why I repent of my anger over the trivial trials of daily living when so many around this globe face overwhelming circumstances and can still manage a smile. Perspective..you can never lose sight of just what the important issues of life are. Small daily challenges are the little foxes in our lives that try to disturb and destroy. Don’t let them steal your joy and peace. Keep a balanced perspective in life.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious over anything……..anything…… yet every day we allow our anxieties over what are really trivial matters control our thoughts, our mouths, our emotions. It is tiring and ultimately futile.

Don’t be anxious over anything; commit it to God and see Him do miracles and signs and wonders in your life.

I loved talking with my walking buddies the other day. We were walking our 12k walk again. As we walked one relived some of the more humourous stories that came out of the storm. One woman was stripped of her underwear during the surge and wasn’t aware or as was anyone else either, until her husband blabbed it out to everyone as they gathered together after the storm. Or the man who came running to tell of the church collapse that killed 18 people – for the news to be overshadowed by the fact he was standing in front of about 20 people naked and not realizing it.

It has become my saying when I am tempted to slip into first world frustrations – At least I have my underwear!

So stay the course with joy! You still have your underwear!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

Posted in Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey –  Walking Life with Friends

Loved rereading this blog and remembering our walks…Friends forever!

Written in 2014 –

This weekend my Philippines journey continued with a walk of 12k. Well 11.6k according to my pedantic husband.  I walked it with a new found friend.

Next year I want to walk 800km, needless to say I need to train for that, which I have been doing in Australia starting the beginning of this year. When I heard about Josiah’s relapse this year I walked – for about 6 km even though I hadn’t been walking far at that time. I found it helped cope with stress-filled situations. Throughout the year I continued to walk.

I walked by myself on some spectacular walks. I walked with friends and family and even my dog. I took an 85 year old who has a pace-maker on a nature walk that she had never seen in the 50 years she lived at the beach.  (She made it there and back BTW) It was wonderful to share the joy of these experiences with others.

I have loved it. Even though getting up or getting going can be challenging it is always worth the reward of the feeling the effects in my body after exercise and I love observing the beauty of God around me. The challenge was to try and do different walks all the time.

I cancelled my gym subscription as I hate exercising within 4 walls. I secured local walks maps from the council. I have walked Sydney city, suburbs and beaches. There have been hikes on rugged bush tracks and relatively easy walks on cement paths. It has been wonderful. The temperatures have ranged from 2 to late 20’s. There have been some light showers which I don’t mind but I can’t quite come at thunder and lightning.

And then…I came to the Philippines. It’s impossible to get Paul to walk with me. To date I think we have taken one stroll along the beach together. The locals suggested it was not a good thing for me to walk by myself, something I prefer to do.

I found a couple of women who I wore out on their first walk and haven’t seen since – of course due to work and family commitments! The numerous passing typhoons did nothing to encourage walking. I was getting desperate.

Then the Pastor next door spoke to his wife who goes jogging every day. After a couple of weeks she invited me to join her, which means I slow her down. To complement our walking we include some challenges for her and me also. These include the 11.6km walk to Surf Camp a beach, 11.6km away from our village!  Today we tackled Radar Hill whose road almost requires 2-hand drive to climb it.

For me, it has been wonderful having a walking buddy. Every morning at 4.30am I hear a, “Good morning, Mam”. Some mornings I beat her to it and am up. Other mornings I beg God not to let her wake up! And still others I just wish she would go away. The other day I had a headache of epic proportions. It had raged for 2 days and I was feeling it that night. The pain was awful. After Paul massaged my head and neck, sleep came – so did Medi!

“Good morning, Mam.”

“Good grief,” said I from my befuddled mind. I even suggested to Paul I not go but he wouldn’t let me off. So I dressed and started out and the head cleared in the early morning air, validating his, “I told you” so attitude.

Yesterday Medi and I found another walking buddy as we left the village around 5am. We laughed and chatted our way down to Surf Camp. Did I say it was 11.6km away? The longest these girls have walked and they were very proud of themselves. I would have walked back but wasn’t sure they would cope – 🙂 Paul came down and picked us up – much to their delight.

Life lessons I am reminded of:

  1. Some days you feel good – Other days you don’t. You have to suck it up and push through the barriers, setting your mind to achieve your goal. Nothing will be achieved through wishing and wanting.
  2. Make sure you have the correct equipment – I bought great shoes this year and have forgotten the pain of yesteryear’s ill-fitting shoes. Make sure you have correct gear to do the job well. My previous walking partners tried to walk in “slippers”-“flip-flops” or as we Australians call them, “thongs”. No wonder I haven’t seen them since!
  3. Friends keep us motivated and honest. Medi and I challenged ourselves to get to the top of Radar Hill this morning even though each corner revealed another new level of incline. Continue to stretch your limits. Although it pays to have some back up for support if you need it. Don’t be content with comfortable.
  4. Walking works out the stressors of life – I have walked out a lot of anger, sadness and frustration this year. Find practical ways to deal with stress preferably not an addiction.
  5. Enjoy the journey. Our new walking buddy kept stopping to find new plants, and flowers, etc. We talked, we looked, we explored. Our times mightn’t break records but really in life is that all we are about – How we can beat others? I wonder at an amazing seaview, smell the dank rainforest, revel in a breaking dawn. I weep as we walk along and my companions share their stories of survival, loss, and hope. The journey is much more than just reaching the target.
  6. Celebrate the achievement. I so often forget to do this. My grandson Josiah has taught me how important it is to celebrate each milestone you achieve. You have to celebrate those times when you have reached a goal. We did a little whoop yesterday at that beach thankful we made it in the oppressive tropical heat and weren’t collected by any of the numerous cars, trucks, motor bikes or trikes on the narrow cement road! Celebrate then move on and up.

My son-in-law recently said to me about living in the Philippines, “Do you think you will like it? How will you go without your friends?” Too easy – make new ones and of course stay in touch with my old ones..

Keep moving forward with your goals. You can walk to anywhere in the world. You just have to start and keep walking. You can do whatever you believe you can do. You just have to start and keep going.

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Our spectacular sunrise on the way to Surf Camp!