what can you afford?

2012-09-23 Jaala Spain 001

“The tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self denial.”
― Oscar Wilde


the routes*

We’ll be leaving half the family behind, and they are keen to follow our progress. It is hard to know exactly how far we will walk on any given day – we want to take each day as it comes and see how we’re feeling, what the weather’s like, whether we have blisters or aching muscles…..but we jotted down a worst case scenario of not-too-many-daily-miles that we need to cover in order to be in Santiago in time to fly home again. I plotted those stages onto googlemaps and we’ll check in with our devoted fan club each day and they can see for themselves if we are keeping up with our proposed schedule. Hopefully we’ll get ahead of ourselves and have some time left over at the end for some visiting of places off the camino trail.

You can scroll in and out on the maps if you like, and get street view and all that jazz. Actually, WordPress updated some bits and bobs and in the process disenabled this sharing facility, so there will be no fancy maps, sorry, just links that you can go to (by the way, I don’t expect anyone other than Grandpa will want to, but we do know he will click along every step of the way with us)

Map 1

Link for first three stages….https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zolBt8rIFn5s.kpOdChnvVUiQ (Grandpa, the places are in the reverse order on this map – remember we were going to go in the other direction at first?)

Stage One: Pamplona to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port.
SJPdP is a semi-officialish starting point for many people’s pilgrimages to Santiago. For us, it will be the end point of our first stage and the beginining of the second. Options will be dependent on weather – no passing over the mountain if the conditions are not clear. We’ll stick to the low road route if there is snow or rain or fog.

Stage Two: Voie de la Nive to Bayonne. You know, at first we were just going to take the train along this portion, not realising that there was a walkable track. But when I saw it on the map I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “We could just walk that” – and it didn’t take long to discover this properly marked official French walking path.

Stage Three: Camino Baztan
This route runs from Bayonne to Pamplona (ie towards Santiago), on towards meeting the family. A joyful reunion it will be in Pamplona. We have never been away from each other for such a long time – two weeks! The hard stuff (that I’m secretly a little nervous about) will be behind us.

Stage Four: Pamplona to Burgos
Then we’ll have a couple of weeks walking together; four kids, two adults. We are aiming to stay at the red markers on the map – you can see that if we don’t make it on any given day, there are plenty of in-between options (the blue markers). https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zolBt8rIFn5s.kJca7ee_YK1c

Stage Five: Burgos to Leon
After Dadda leaves we hit the meseta, a large flat plain of open spaces and days of mindless walking. People seem to either love it or hate it….hoping it doesn’t make our hearts ache too much. https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zolBt8rIFn5s.k11qNSItltRU

Stage Six: Leon to Oviedo
Leon is the city to which we travelled on an 18 hour overnight bus from Paris last time…..that time we made an on-the-spot executive decision to not try to find an albergue, to not find the pilgrim path, to not see the famous cathedral, and just to hop on the next bus to Astorga and have a fresh start the next day from there. This time we will see the cathedral and instead of heading off in the same direction as last time, will walk northwards through the mountains on the Camino del Salvador. https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zolBt8rIFn5s.kdW2Xt_sZDL4

Stage Seven: Oviedo to Santiago
With another Camino under our belts, we will take on the Camino Primitivo, but we won’t be too “purist” about it and after completing our 1,000km at the monastery at Sobrado, we will forge our own way down to Melide and on to Santiago along paths we have already trodden before. https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zolBt8rIFn5s.k0lfGbf4X-Ho

holiday reading

2012-09-22 Jaala Spain 007

Too Small to Ignore

This book combines the story of Wess Stafford, who grew up in Africa and also happens to be former President and CEO of Compassion International, with compelling reasons to embrace the children in our lives and around the world. It encourages you to turn your good, loving intentions into strategic actions and empowers you to help change the world–and the future–forever: one child at a time.

Half the Sky

The book argues that the oppression of women worldwide is “the paramount moral challenge” of the present era, much as the fight against slavery was in the past. It focuses on sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence, microfinance and girls’ education. Carolyn See, the book critic of The Washington Post, said in her review: “‘Half the Sky’ is a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, but also a call for volunteers. It asks us to open our eyes to this enormous humanitarian issue. It does so with exquisitely crafted prose and sensationally interesting material….I really do think this is one of the most important books I have ever reviewed.”

Kisses from Katie

You don’t have to be old to change someone’s world. At age nineteen Katie moved from her privileged American life to Uganda and ended up adopting thirteen children and starting a non-profit, which today supports hundreds more where she still lives. This is a beautiful story, not only of a girl’s selfless choices, but of God’s grace to her and those she loves and lives with.

And if you’d prefer a book about the Camino de Santiago, there is a long discussion of the merits (and otherwise) of many English publications right here.