Daily Archives: August 16, 2012

Keeping Busy

I’m bemused, my friends — I’ve been trying to cull myself of busyness. But suddenly, I find it’s the best and semi-healthiest coping mechanism I have. I can’t drink or smoke or get obliterated to find silence and succor anymore; I’ve learned through much indulgence that they don’t work that well. But if I return to keeping myself doing, but not say… doing all the things at once, it does a fair bit to help keep my mind from finding ways to make me want to cry and hide. I’m not sure how long it’s going to work because I am running on pretty empty (and my husband isn’t doing great either, so we’re not supporting each other as well as we could), but you know… any port in a storm, right?


Homeward Bound…

…Well, in principle at least.

Today marks the point in my journey that I finally turn inland for the last stretch down to Santiago, having walked around 625km, or nearly 400 miles, across the northern coast of Spain, guided almost exclusively by a succession of little yellow arrows daubed on pavements, bridges, walls, trees and I should imagine any other paintable surface you might care to suggest.

And today’s photo header shows you the bridge coming into today’s destination, Ribadeo, that also marks the official crossing from…


…which is the final region of Spain that I will be walking through, having also covered The Basque Country and Cantabria.

There are still about 200km / 125 miles to go, but when you look at it like this…

…it definitely feels like I’ve broken the back of it.

Which is not to say that I’m wishing the rest of the journey away. It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’m sure will continue to be so for the next seven days – the time I’ve calculated that the rest of the journey needs to take in order to get my plane home on time.

Having said that, the last stretch of the Camino also seems to be upping the ante fairly considerably, with two 40km stages in the last three days – a bit of a shock to the system, given that the average has been around 25km per day for the last three weeks.

So I thought it would be sensible to buy myself a day’s grace just in case I need it, and broke down the last three stages into two (I decided against the monastery), with a 37km hike from Cavadeo to Navia yesterday, and then another 32km into Ribadeo today.

Maybe I’ve  been a bit spoilt by the scenery in the first two regions of this trip, but I have to admit that I’ve found it increasingly hard to find anything interesting visually to show you in Asturias – unless you’re particularly interested in endless cornfields, in which case you should definitely come for a visit.

Half way through yesterday’s walk, there was the picturesque fishing village of Luarca to break things up a bit…

…but this shot is a fairly accurate visual short-cut of the day’s walk – very pretty, but not too hot on variety…

…apart from one section which took the whole theme of poor signage (that I might just have mentioned once or twice already) to a whole new level.

It’s one thing trying to follow signs that are placed sporadically along the way and accepting that there is occasionally going to be a junction here and there where you just have to take a wild guess; but it’s a whole new ball game when the road that you are following (and any signs that might have been painted on it) gets completely excavated.

Thankfully, some more wild guesswork seemed to do the trick, and with about 7.5 hours walking under my belt, I eventually made it to Navia.

I really should make the effort to find out why, but this part of Spain seems to be one huge party at the moment, with every town of any significance being strewn with bottles, and sometimes bodies, by the time I’m leaving in the morning.

It’s weird enough as it is walking through strange towns with a pair of walking poles and lugging a rucksack, but when you’re doing it at 7am and the locals are still spilling out of the bars and engaging you in drunken conversation (or piss-taking as it’s more commonly known), it starts to feel positively surreal.

Coming out of Navia early this morning I had to run the gauntlet with a bloke with a purple pony tail who decided to amuse himself by pretending to be a TV interviewer holding a microphone to my face for about 100 yards, asking about how I felt about the rest of the journey to Santiago (the gist of it wasn’t that hard to work out given that the only word he could actually say was Santiago).

After which, I have to admit that whilst walking out of town, even the cornfields looked interesting.

…and I know I’m on the verge of contracting a serious dose of OCD about this whole signage business, but today’s leg into Ribadeo was an absolute corker.

I don’t think I’ve met a single walker so far who, at some stage, has not got completely and utterly lost somewhere in Asturias (it’s not just me, honest). Everyone you bump into mentions the fact that the little yellow arrows just seem to fade away – one minute you’re confidently striding along in what you’re convinced is the right direction, and the next you’re on the verge of committing Hari Kari.

But today, it was almost as if Asturias was apologising for her negligence before giving way to Galicia, as quite apart from the fact that there seemed to be a waymarker every couple of hundred yards, most of them bore only the slightest resemblance to what had been the norm for 400 miles or so.

I’ve just read that back and can’t quite believe I’ve spent so much time thinking about sign-posts. Note to self: must get a life.

Anyway, given that today is the last day that I’ll get to see the sea before I get home, I thought I leave you with a couple of the prettier views I came across today.

Galicia, here we come…

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Asturias, Cadavedo, Charity, El Camino del Norte, Galicia, Navia, Rethink Mental Illness, Ribadeo, The Santiago Way

Insanity or Optimism? Mid-Afternoon Mental Moment

I just checked my account again, for about the 800th time this week, just to see if maybe my child support is there…. I have hope. Much of the time anyways. What? I know ..doing the same thing over and over and over, expecting a different result. Insanity. Not necessarily. I just think its optimism. … Continue reading

This Also is Good

Chalk it up to experience. At my age? I guess so. Obviously it was an experience I needed to have. I feel good about it, now that it’s over and I’m back in a safe environment (in Jerusalem, no less, no complaints here!).

Oh. What happened? Right.

So you remember my posts about my Beloved, the wonderful person who loved me for who I am, and because of who I am? Right.

So I traveled to Northern Israel from America to spend two and a half months with him, in order to make the decision whether or not we would marry. Observant Jews date for that reason only: to find our life partner. So we were hot on the trail of discovery, whether it was to be forever or no.

I am very glad that we took the step of actually living together before deciding to get married. That is not an Orthodox thing to do, and I caught some flak about it from some of my more observant friends. I am not as Orthodox as they are, though, and very glad of it, because had we dived headlong into marriage, disaster and heartbreak would have quickly followed.

He has an anger management problem, to put it mildly. And not only does he micromanage to an extent that would tax the patience of a saint (which I clearly am not), he uses any and every means in his considerably large arsenal to get his way through coercion and, if he deems necessary, intimidation.

There was a cycle that became clear in the twelve days I stuck it out with him. It began with cooperation and teamwork. Nice. Then, once he felt secure, he would begin to boast about himself and his many talents. OK, I can put up with that for a while, anyway. Then he would start finding fault. I left the bathroom door open. Left the lid of the toilet down. Left footprints in the bathtub. Left the water dripping. Put the silverware in the wrong order in the dish drainer after washing them. Huh? Right. And on and on, ad infinitum.

If I complained or tried to reason with him about the micromanagement, I was accused of “playing games.” Huh? Any attempt to reason with him met with torrents of hostile speech, blowing in my face like a hurricane. Finally I would walk out, or he would turn off and go to sleep. The next day, he would be cheerful, happy that he had prevailed, and things would be copacetic.

I stuck it out for three of these cycles. On the second one I had packed my bags, and I did not unpack them despite his repeated requests and suggestions that I do so. Sorry, Charlie, you’re dealing with a person whose middle name begins with “P,” for PTSD. I might have been sucked into another abusive relationship, but I sure as hell am not about to stay in one.

So, the night that he flew into a rage because I was about to use the wrong knife to cut a melon, having had the brazen faced gall to place the cutting board on the (shabby and much scarred) table where I might get juice on it, I tried to get him to stop shouting at me long enough for me to tell him that not only do I know what to do with a knife (no, no, not that!), but I am also old enough to know how to wipe up spills when they happen….but he refused to listen to me and stormed out the door instead.

Later that evening, after listening to a lecture about my game-playing and the fact that I did not have permission to use the sharp knives (?????), I informed him that I would be leaving the next day. That lead to a lot of bargaining and further head-tripping attempts. Fortunately I am quite immune to head-tripping, having had far, far too much experience with it, at my advanced age.

So I left the next day, and came back to Jerusalem, the Holy City, the only place in the world I feel at home. A happy ending after all.

1. I was walking down the street. There was a big hole in the sidewalk. I didn’t see it. I fell in.

2. I was walking down the street. There was a big hole in the sidewalk. I didn’t see it. I fell in. I climbed out again.

3. I was walking down the street. There was a big hole in the sidewalk. I saw it. I fell in anyway.

4. I was walking down the street. There was a big hole in the sidewalk. I walked around it.

5. I took a different street.

I think this adventure falls in the #4 category. I’m aiming for #5, but at this point my confidence is not at the highest point it’s ever been.

Crazy Music

We often note a relationship between mental illness and creativity, but connecting illness and the creative process is way out …

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Wrong

Something is Wrong in this picture it looks rather funny one side is dirty the other all Sunny See it coming  miles away It looks rather scary Gets people on edge Cautious and Wary The air becomes still it looks rather dark The stillness is broken only by the dogs alarmed bark ANd then it … Continue reading