camino questions………….. (and Martin Luther King)

Spain Sept 8 Sta Catalina (17)

When we went last year, people asked where will you stay? what will you eat? how far will you go each day? how will you know where to go?
And we would answer, “Well, we’ve heard there are inexpensive places pilgrims can stay, food is plentiful, and there are markers all along the way. As for how far, we know the kids can walk 20km, so we’ll see how we go…..”

This time we know.

There *are* frequent places to stay – they can be municipal dormitories with fifty people to a room, they can be smaller parochial guesthouses, they can be private pensions. There are supermercados and panaderias, bars and restaurants with meals especially for pilgrims for all your foodie needs. For the more remote stretches that we will be doing where there is no food available we will be taking a small supply of dehydrated porridge for the mornings and homemade dehydrated curry and potato flakes to enjoy at the end of the day.

Spain Sept 22 Palas de Rei (47)

Spain Sept 16 028

Remote stretches? Yes, we will be walking through the mountains on some of the less travelled trails. The routes are marked so we shouldn’t get lost. We feel well prepared having studied closely websites such as gronze, mundicamino and eroski, as well as asked lots of questions from experienced pilgrims on the Camino Forum. If you are thinking of walking, I highly recommend these resources. The gronze site is the least fancy to look at and perhaps the most difficult to navigate, but its claim to fame (and the reason it’s my fave) is that the distances and elevations given on the maps are the most accurate)

Distances. We know that everyone, including the youngest, managed 20+ km. In fact, the day I took the two girls off to the hospital and we travelled by bus and taxi, the rest of the group walked almost 30km. Micaiah, who was ten at the time, survived, but had painfully aching legs that evening, so we will be avoiding such distances. Walking a marathon as a one-off is one thing; doing it day after day after day is quite another. We have time to go as little as 15km every day if necessary, but we’ll see how we go. If we can cover 20km or more comfortably, we’ll do it. Everyone will be two years older than last time, so it might make a difference.

Spain Sept 11 011

And then there’s Martin Luther King’s question. He suggested, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is this: what are you doing for others?”

Join the conversation on our Facebook page if you like.

Spain Sept 11 013


techno trial

Just trying out the wordpress app and teeny-tiny keyboard that is so much bigger than using the phone one. Let’s try taking a photo too…..


Now how do I upload the pics to Flickr from the phone so that they do not take up space on the blog? No answers required – my in-house techies will tell me.

another compelling reason to *not walk in NZ*

Spain Sept 21 Hospital da Cruz

Walking in NZ would have the potential to be slightly cheaper than going to Spain (only slightly, we’ve discussed that before). The argument goes that we could then donate the difference in cost directly to charity: water. You readers have been very gracious in embracing the idea that going to Spain is a good one – so we don’t have to try to convince you of that. Nevertheless, there is another reason…..

Walking in Spain offers something that walking in NZ wouldn’t. If we edge around the East Cape or clamber over the crags of the Southern Alps, how many people will we meet? A few. We might even get an article in the Ruatoria Times (or its equivalent). But if we walk across Spain we will meet new people every day, both locals from whom we might buy lunch or whose house we might stay in, and also fellow peregrinos (pilgrims), lots and lots of peregrinos. We will be able to share our story over and over and over. Some of those people might be inclined to become our sponsors, some of them might tell their friends and family about the project.

It’s possible that the greater exposure could well exceed the greater cost of getting us around the world (and at the end of the day, we are paying our way completely, so all sponsorship money goes directly to the project anyway. Can I make that clear? We pay each and every euro-cent of our way ourselves and seek sponsorship only for the water project)

Now when you see the shoes lined up outside the dormitory and see the morning hordes trekking up the street, do you get the feeling we’ll meet more people with whom to share our story in Spain?

Spain Sept 17 18 Sarria (33)steady stream of peregrinos and none of them are us


Quite a number of people who read this blog are our family and friends and they know us.
A number more are people who have read since the Pilgrims’ Progress blog’s inception and followed our first journey, then picked up with us again on the second and will perhaps read this next chapter too.
Then there is a growing number of new readers coming from the Camino Forum run by Ivar Rekve and even more from the web of relationships that is called Facebook.

To our new readers, a hearty welcome. Feel free to say HI in the comments and we’ll reply.

Speaking of replying…..a friend wrote, “Very keen to sponsor you, and to get my kids to follow your progress and sponsor as well. Will you each collect sponsors? Only asking because it’s occurring to me that it would be powerful for my kids if they got to sponsor your kids.”
I can tell you we like having friends to whom such thoughts occur!
Well, the answer is, unfortunately, not quite as she would like. We won’t be doing individual sponsorships – there will just be one 1,000km-walk-for-water campaign. HOWEVER, I can see the value in the personal involvement suggested and so I’ve come up with a promise to make it happen. If you have a child who relates to one particular child of mine, yours could leave a comment (indicating who it is for) or send an email and I promise to ensure your child gets a personal reply from my one. In fact, if they get a right regular correspondence going, I’ll even promise a postcard from Spain – you know, real mail in the letterbox. Does that sound like a reasonable arrangement?

Now on to the introductions.
Here are the four big kids walking their Camino in 2012.

Spain Sept 19 Ferreiros 003Josiah, Kyle, Jaala, Kaleisha

Having walked a portion themselves, they understand what the little kids are up for. They are also filled with admiration and respect for their younger siblings. Kaleisha expressed this so well when we walked last time: “I don’t know how the little ones are doing it! I’d have had a paddy if I’d known at the beginning of the day we would go so far.”
And they know we will be doing more – much more – of the same, and over more difficult terrain.
These four won’t be coming this time. The eldest two will be pursuing their tertiary studies and they have entered the world of employment from which you can’t just take off for two months on a whim. The other two also have part-time jobs and were originally going to continue their studies at home. It’s not that they weren’t invited; they elected to stay home and cook the dinners and hang up the washing and clean the toilet – you can tell just how much they stand in awe of what their siblings will do when you consider the alternative they chose;-) They were very recently offered the opportunity to go to India while we are walking. Initially both were foot-stompingly unkeen. Kaleisha has reached the point of ungrudging willingness to go, and Kyle says he needs another week to ponder.

Anyway, here’s the youngest:

Spain Sept 19 Ferreiros (8)

She can introduce herself:
“My name is Ella-Rose. I am seven years old and I will turn eight on the Camino. I like to ride my bike, but I can’t take it with me. Sometimes I get a bit grumpy when I’m walking, but hopefully I won’t on the walk-for-water.”

Then there’s The Trooper, who steadily plodded on, and in this picture is about half an hour away from reaching the top of a big climb, seeing the albergue and running down the path in ecstasy – only to fall and break her arm.

Spain Sept 15 O Cebreiro (46)

Her words:
“I’m Tessa. That’s me (in that photo up there) walking part of the Camino when I was eight – this time I will be ten. I thought it was quite fun and I’m looking forward to going again, except for the uphills. I like snowboarding, riding my bike and swimming. I also like creating things and I really like reading.”

The Talker, walking along with his mouth open as usual. He never stops talking, telling stories to whoever will listen, and to himself if no-one else will. Most remembered story from the 2012 camino was a twenty-minute long saga, all told in rhyme in a Dr Seuss-ish kind of way.

Spain Sept 9 Rabanal (14)

He says:
“The name’s Micaiah, commonly known as Micki. Eleven years old and live in New Zealand. I like fishing, riding my bike, watching rugby, reading. My favourite food is nachos and my favourite book right now is The Hobbit, but that might change when I read something else. When we were walking in 2012 I liked the change of scenery each day, but I didn’t like the day we walked nearly 30km and my legs got so sore that evening that I couldn’t walk at all. Jaala carried me to the guesthouse and Mum rubbed lavender oil on my muscles.”

The eldest on the coming mission. Instead of being one of the “little kids” he is looking forward to playing the role of Mature Responsible Right-hand Man.

Spain Sept 20 Portomarin (41)

“I’m Levi, about to turn 13, I like snowboarding, scootering and mountain biking. I’m looking forward to the Camino, especially looking forward to raising money to help people in Africa. Going to Spain again will be great, because I really enjoy the food there.”

(Tessa just said when she saw Levi’s photo: Oh that’s the day I was feeling grumpy inside, but didn’t show it.” I commended her self-control and suggested she share her feelings out loud next time so we can encourage her and be extra considerate)

Then there’s a Daddy-who-will-hardly-know-himself-with-only-two-or-three-kids-at-home.
He has been the tricky-question-asker and faithful supporter of this endeavour from the beginning. If he had objected to spending his hard-earned money or staying home by himself or if he had insisted we keep to a proper school year or that we not stay away for so long, then this campaign would not have worked. While we wish he could be with us for the whole time, we are thankful that he can walk for a couple of weeks and we will treasure the time we have together. Being separated will remind us that this is the daily reality for many of the people we walk for.

2012-09-12 Joe Spain 020

Finally there’s a Dreamer
(that would be me, the one looking after her feet in the picture below)
I’m an introvert living in an extrovert world. I love to read and think and research and learn and process and write. Despite being a contemplative, I don’t do sitting still well and love to crochet or knit or embroider if I have to stop. I don’t run or cycle or swim or skydive, but I love to walk. I am passionate about justice and doing something about poverty. My interest in education has led me from being an English language teacher to teaching my own kids at home for the past 19 years and to now studying models of education for the poor. I’m not sure where it will go in the future. For the time being I’ll be the primary contributor on this blog.

Spain Sept 15 O Cebreiro (33)

By the way, all the photos we are using pre-walk-for-water-2014 are from our 2012 Camino.

If you’d like to connect with us, feel free to do it here, or zip on over to the Facebook page.

How about a hunger strike?

“I guess when it comes to sponsorship there is a spectrum between doing something clearly unpleasant (eg a hunger strike) or useful (eg picking up rubbish in a third world heritage area) and going on a pleasant family holiday. Most people will be less motivated to sponsor the more that your activity looks like “fun” or something you would do anyway, and more motivated if what you’re doing is clearly a sacrifice for you. Where do you think your plan falls on the spectrum?” (question asked by RoseErose on Facebook)

In the past some people whipped themselves as they walked their spiritual pilgrimage to Santiago. That would be right up there with hunger strikes – but I’m not convinced it would elicit any more sponsorship. I’m not making fun of the question – it surely is a good one.

I wholeheartedly agree that you’d probably have a tricky time getting people to give even a cent if your “project” was to visit every theme park in the US. I get that.

So should I list the hardships we might come across…..bedbugs, walking in the rain, walking in the blazing sun, being sick of walking, missing brothers, missing sisters, missing Daddy, missing Grandpa, missing friends, missing reading, struggling with Spanish, handwashing every day, blisters…..

Spain Sept 12 043bedbug bites after treatment

When a concerned acquaintance advised that allowing children to walk so far would damage their bones, I consulted our revered medical expert. His reply was short and to the point: You can do no damage to children’s bones by walking a long way, but they will be bored after two weeks. And they might be.

So are we up there nudging close to hunger strikes? I don’t think so.
Our potential problems are first world ones.
We are privileged. We are fortunate to be able to do something that goes beyond merely providing for our daily needs.
We are blessed in the midst of any sacrifice we might make, big or small.

If we encounter bedbugs (like we did last time), we’ll be thankful for the beds we slept in.
If we walk in the rain, we will be grateful for water (and raincoats).
If we walk in the sun, we will give thanks that it’s not raining.
If we get sick of walking we will continue anyway.
When we miss our family and friends we will pray for them, send them a message, treasure them.
When we want a book, we will open our journals and write our own story.
When we can’t find the right Spanish word, we’ll laugh.
When we do our handwashing each day, we’ll be thankful we didn’t have to carry the water the whole way we walked.
And as for blisters…..nah, we won’t get blisters. But we could pick up rubbish – it’s a real problem along the way.

How about it? Would our pilgrimage be more valid if we picked up rubbish and each carried a 20litre jerry can of water on our heads?
Coz I tell you what, no matter how much I might enjoy walking, I would never choose a holiday that involved lugging round a jug of water and sack of trash all day. That certainly would not be fun. It would not be something I would “do anyway”. Besides, it would be pretty tricky to use my walking poles.

But how about it? Would you be more inclined to donate money if we were carrying a water jar? Would fellow pilgrims be more likely to give, because we make a spectacle of ourselves? I’m willing to consider it.

What do you think?

Feel free to comment here on the blog, or pop over to the Facebook page to chat there (I’d love you to hit LIKE if you’re OK with that too)