La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Étape 50: Palas - Arzúa, 30 kms, Cloud, 7


Last night I stayed in back of a bar where there were two rooms. As I wrote yesterday, to keep out of the room I spent the afternoon in a pulpo bar eating, writing this blog and searching for a way home. After all those thing were done I was invited to sit up at the bar with the Spanish fellow, Lou from Valencia who I’d taken a photo of with the rainbow above him a few days ago. He was so pleased when I sent him the photo that he invited me to share a plate of pulpo and a couple of beers as well. While we were sitting there trying to talk in two different languages about the various walks we’d both enjoyed he also helped me to book a train ticket for Madrid online as they are cheaper than at the station. Now I’m guaranteed to have a place on the train this Wednesday morning which means one less thing to think about. Having walked to Finisterre twice I have no interest in walking out there again and in any event I have to depart the Schengen Zone basically by this Friday. So I also managed to book a good string of flights home on Thursday. Travel sure is easier with the internet!

Up until Sarria a couple of days ago I haven’t seen very many peregrinos as ancient as I am. Usually I see folks 50 and under and most often in the 20 - 40 range. Most of the grey haired crowd go out in early September and are usually finished well before the end of October. So this has been a different Camino in more than one way.

This morning I was awakened by the returning Spaniards in the other room at 3:13 this morning. I’m sure of the time because I looked at my watch. This isn’t too unusual on a Saturday night in Spain and they weren’t walking the Camino. They were noisy for quite a while, so I don’t think I ever really got back to sleeep. What I could hear was the wind and heavy rain pounding the roof! To be completely honest, I wasn’t very interested in getting out of bed this morning, but after holding out until 7:20 I gave in and reluctantly got up. It was still pouring outside. However, by the time I dressed and found my way to the bar it had sropped raining and it stayed that way all day. After a good breakfast I headed out to see what the trail looked like. It wasn’t in great shape with lots of mud and puddles.

After dodging puddles for about an hour and a half I met a very young Aron from New Mexico coming down the highway. He’d taken the short cut and missed all the trails, and the mud. We walked on together for a while until Melida where we shared a plate of pulpo at a well known shop. Talk about fresh cooked! The octopus is chopped up, put on a wooden plate and paprika and salt are sprinkled on top. Best eaten hot.

We went our separate ways and I looked around the Sunday morning market on my way through town.

As I walked along I was thinking about several things, particularly the beauty of the Galician pathes. This is the sixth time I’ve walked in Galicia in the past five years and rain or sun, the pathways are always beautiful. 

As I continued to climb up and down hills today I began to think about the parallels between a trip of this length and the Alzheimer’s journey. Part of my reasoning for walking so far on this walk was to look for parallels as the walk progressed. Annemarie has done a beautiful job of presenting many of these, but she’s now home and recovering while I have continued to push on for another 18 days. There have for sure been challenges and I’ve tried to write about these from time to time. I’m leaner than I was just 19 days ago and I’m becoming a little more drained with each passing stage. Today after just a few hours sleep I was feeling like I was having to push through the day and that I was hitting a wall. By this time with over 7 weeks walking a route with lots of climbing and adverse weather conditions, it begins to feel like really all that’s left of me are a couple of spindly legs, two expanded lungs and I hope a big heart. Really. It becomes that simple. I began to again think about what it must be like for the people who support someone with Alzheimer’s. Day in and day out. The interrupted sleep, the difficulty getting adequate exercise and good meals as they reach that point of exhaustion. For me it’s comparatively easy, I just have to walk and no one really depends on me. For the support person there is someone depending on them every day. So respite and recovery is very important for caregivers, and as Annemarie has said repeatedly, it’s super important for caregivers to have a good connection with the Alzheimer Society so that they can assist with finding the available supports. I believe I learned in the course I took with the Society that 35% of caregivers don’t survive the person they are caring for because of the stress they are under. Subsequent illness takes its toll and it’s well documented that caregivers of the same age as non-caregivers do not live nearly as long. Something to think about. It was on my mind today as I pushed myself up another hill, and then another, and yet another. While I haven’t said anything here, and intended not to, I guess to help make today’s point it’s now ok to reveal that I’ve been sick for the past 23 days, first with a nasty cold and then with sinusitis. Only a few people have been aware of this, but like most care givers I felt I had to push through each day. I could have taken the easy way out and quit walking. During a very low point I almost did, but care givers don’t have this option and this, with some support from my family motivated me to push on. Oh, and I’m just about recovered now...thanks for asking:) Also this is the reason I’ve generally stayed out of the albergues as I’d have passed this cold on to many undeserving peregrinos and no doubt all stuffed up I’d have been snoring too! Also Annemarie told me to!!

Ok, enough drama...I have more photos to share! 

Ha! I just looked and Annemarie did remember to write a piece for today.

Bet you thought I forgot! Here you go...

SA Greater Purpose: Poor weather for walking has been Geoff’s experience more often than not lately. This morning Geoff looked out the window and saw yet another downpour. He wrote me a message saying “I’m staying in bed”. Of course he didn’t. Whether or not Kathy’s words, “get up, get out and just do it” are playing in his head, it is the greater purpose of this walk - his commitment and sense of responsibility - that gets him out. Sometimes the day will bring surprising joys; a picturesque view, an interesting encounter, or a good story. Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s face a similar challenge; days they know will be tough, but that they need to get through due to their commitment and responsibility for someone they love. For them too, there may be bright spots in the day, or there may not be. For Geoff as he gets closer to Santiago there is some comfort in knowing each step is bringing him to his final destination and the comfort of home. Caregivers face these tough days without knowing how long their journey is. 

Tomorrow I hope to complete this portion of our “purposeful” walk. It’s unlike any walk I’ve ever before undertaken because I’ve come to really understand that while this walk has helped me to sort of deal with my own grief for Kathy’s situation (at least I hope it has) it’s also been a walk committed to something other than myself. I know Annemarie feels the same way. So I think I have enough left in my spindly legs, two expanded lungs and a big heart to complete something that has been a labour of love for both Annemarie and myself this past year. Of course on this journey Santiago was only ever a way point on our long road, and I’ll travel home shortly afterwards to continue our project. It’s become very personal.

Buen Camino!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Geoff:

    Remembrance Day in Victoria - a bit overcast but with sunny patches and cool breezes but no rain (thus far). I couldn't help but equate how relatively quiet and beautiful Victoria is versus some of the turmoil that is going on in so many parts of the world. The countryside you trekked through today was also very beautiful and it was nice that you were able to see Galicia in such splendor as your Alzheimer Journey winds down in the next day or so. Nice encounter you had in the bar with Lou who was able to help you complete travel reservations on your return trip to Victoria.

    Keep the wind at your back and walk down hill when ever you can ...................

    Love Mom and Dad