Friday, June 30, 2006

Chapter 3¨: Pamplona (What Else Needs to Be Said?)

The lazy title of this entry may or may not tell what kind of day it´s been in the tremendous city of Pamplona where the running of the bulls is set to take place in only a matter of days. I hiked with the group headed by Andy for the first time today and while the pace was significantly increased with respect to the last two days, I still feel like I´m in pretty good shape and taking it one day at a time. I am really lucky to be able to carry on in the condition that I have been. I say this after witnessing a blister treatment ritual that saw Casey and Allie using a method vouched for by Andy entailing a needle and thread (use your imagination to fill in the rest) to exterminate the blister. Pamplona will probably go down as the city with the most inter- group confusion in this young Camino, but walking out on the town after lunch/dinner, watching awesome African drummers and dancers perform, and witnessing the sunset over the hills, has ensured that I will take nothing but positive vibes from this town and will regret not seeing more of it...buen camino.

the misfortune of miscommunication

Warning! this will be long...

everyday we start out in two groups. group a (led by Andy), which moves faster, takes fewer breaks and leaves earlier, and group b (led by Annie), which does all the opposite. Today, Holly, Alec, Caryn, Pablo and myself were in group b.

Our hike was great. We took our time, had wonderful conversations, enjoyed the remaining views of the Pyrannes (I know I totally messed up that spelling). However, when we arrived in Pamplona, shit hit the fan.

At precisely one o´clock, group B arrived in Pamplona. Also at precisely one o´clock, group A and B were supposed to meet up at our pilgrim house (also known as an Auberge). Unfortunately, group A was nowhere to be found. After about 45 minutes of sitting around, Annie left to take a taxi to the other Auberge. Five minutes later she returned, saying Andy called her and they were already at the other Auberge. No worries though. We picked up our bags and were off once again, hiking another 30 minutes across Pamplona to the other Auberge... i sure hope I´m not spelling Auberge wrong...

30 minutes later and we find out the other Auberge is no longer in existance. By this point it was 2pm and the sun was beating down on us hard. All of us ate very little that day, expecting to arrive in Pamplona early for lunch since it was only a 22km day (personally, I ate a little chorizo and bread, half an apple, and a few handfulls of trailmix)... so, by this point, we were getting weary, quite pissed off, and thoroughly exhausted.

After 30 minutes of hanging around the non-existant Auberge, we got another call from Andy and he told us the address of the place they were at. Annie decided to toss us exhausted peregrinos in a taxi, but when we told the taxi driver the address of the supposed Auberge, all he said was ¨esta aqui! esta aqui!¨(for those nonspanish speakers, you are here! you are here!¨ Clearly though, we were not there.

After another phone call from Andy, we decided to meet in the main plaza. So, we hiked another 20 minutes back through town to meet up with our other groupmates. By this point we had been in Pamplona for 2.5 hours, our stomachs eating their insides out in starvation, and smelled like complete ass.

Finally, we meet up (3 hours after arriving in Pamplona), shower, eat lots of food, drink lots of sangria, and learn a valuable lesson in communication.

This was long. I am tired. Pamplona is great. After dinner I saw an incredible jazz trio that played Route 66, met some locals and shared a cigarrette, and now I must leave because my time runs out in 2 minutes.

With the understanding that this is way too long of a blog post, but with much love,


How to learn Spanish

So I am tryinhg to make it a serious priority to practice Spanish while I´m here, but I often feel nervous and intimidated (fortunately my confidence grows with each day). In any event, Yesterday I spoke more spanish than I may have in my entire life combined. The reason...... I love little kids. Kate actually discovered the Spanish children in the river in Zubiri, but I quickly swarmed to cash in on the fun. By the end of the day, I was soaking wet from water fights, had learned the named of countless river-related terms (congrejo is like a little lobster that the kids wanted me to pick up which I refused declaring ¨tengo miedo como una chica pequena), had lost both of my sandals (running on the rocks did not help tender flesh and a swolen ankle I am nursing)and I had also been on the winning side of a local soccer game in the plaza. These children were all between the ages of 6 and 8, but they made me feel so comfortable with them and were genuinely excited that I was speaking spanish with them. In short, it was the best Spanish lesson of my life( no offense to Andy) and I have decided that the only sure-fire way for me to learn Spanish is to stay in Zubiri for the next six months. Goodbye America and I will see you in the winter. No just kidding mom. But I do want to give a shout out to my little boy Javier for returning my wallet when I left it by the river. Cooleset 6-year-old in Spain. In any event, I am here now in Pamlona with a swolen ankle and some grosse blisters on my two smallest toes on my right shoe which I will be nursing until tomorrow. Love you mom and Dad. Until next Post.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Taking It Home for the Team

So back in Madrid we were at a bar watching a soccer game. Someone hadn´t finished their beer, and Casey mentioned to them, in a coach-like manner, that they should ¨take it home for the team¨. Later on, the next day perhaps, we were eating lots of meaty goodness at the Museo Del Jamon. I couldn´t finish my sandwich, and so Casey says, ¨Take it home.¨ I thought he meant for later, and so I said, ¨Yeah, okay.¨ and I put it down. ¨No,¨Casey said, ¨Take it home.¨ I think I was jamoned out at that point, and Allie took it home for me, but in any case the phrase stuck.

Soon we realized that ¨taking it home¨ applied to many aspects of our trip, and we have more or less adopted it as our team motto. For example: We´re on the trail, we´ve got 5.7 K left. What do we do? Take it home, of course. Breakfast? Take it home. Wine? Take it home. Mountain? Take it home, duh. I feel better if I think of the trip in mini-accomplishments this way, taking it home one day at a time.

Chapter 2: Iron Chef Zubiri

I took my assignment of cook for today´s dinner with nervous assurance when Andy handed me the job assignement card this morning. Luckily the store in Zubiri was slight on the selection and my chef duties involved no more than slicing bread. This probably sums up my whole day. I have a looming fear that I´ll eventually reach a point where that wall will be hit. My right shoulder has been hurting me a little along with my right big toe. But I made it through the day blisterless, not sore, and can only complain about that knot in my right shoulder. So despite the nerves that accompanied the beginning of the day and that will probably accompany me at the beginning of each day this first week I can say that I am Ok and that the Camino inevitably continues on...


Okay, so as if I didn't get the point across before. I'm freaking hurting! Going downhill on rocks is not exactly walking on carpet. The soreness shall pass though. I felt this during training of track season. However, I'm a little concern about messing up my adorable feet, busting a knee cap, and breaking my shoulder from my backpack. Nevertheless, there has NEVER been an obstacle I can't overcome. I made it through a terrible bus ride...hiked from France to Spain in a day...and after chasing down my shoe in a fast pace upstream (which has caused even more unbearable pain on my feet)...I still count my blessings. I have stayed in really great hostels...nice beds...access to internet and phone...laundry facilities cause Lord knows I'm sooo tired I don't feel like washing...and most Private showers! Oh...way another important one....GOOOOD food. I was really worried about the food. I'm probably the world's pickest and weirdest eater, but I have actually tried some things I haven't before. I had some brie cheese in France...and I HATE cheese..but I was being a team player. It wasn't so bad. It tastes like butter. I had some delicious soup, trout, and Ore-Ida...yes! I said Ore-Ida (AMERICAN FOOD, LOL) after a long hike yesterday...and today I had some paella with rabbit in it, or so I think, and some pork loin. The flan that everyone got was awful, so I just had some helado(ice cream), which hit the spot! I'm guess this trying new things isn't so bad. And I also got to talk to someone very special to me today...which really helped in getting my day going. All and all...I know the pain and soreness will past...and I can really enjoy all these beautiful cities we pass, like the one we are in now, Zuburi. Well...that's it for now. Miss all my loves back home...see you soon though.

Hiking underway...

So we´ve begun the Camino at last. After a rather harrowing bus ride into France we hiked back through the mountains to Spain and now ride the hills downward to what I belive to be the plains of Spain. The hikes have been great so far, and so beautiful I fear the most scenic portion of the Camino will be past before we reach our half way point. Not to worry though...plenty more adventures to come. More precisely, lunch beckons, so I´ll leave you with an image of yesterday´s lunch in the pyrenees.
I send my love to you all.

El segundo dia

We had another great day on the trail. We started out in two groups, one at 6 and another a little while later, but we ended up together because the bakery didn´t open until 7:30. The hike took us out of the Pyrenees and into flatter terrain. I finished in about 5 hours. Andy and I took off to find us a restuarant for lunch while the rest of the team finished up.

Spain is so beautiful, and the weather has been absolutely perfect. Today was sunny but not too hot. I´ve sincerely enjoyed every moment. Great views and wonderful company.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Chapter 1: Toughest Day (D)one

Waking up at 5:30 this morning to begin what can understatedly be called a long day began the first day of the Camino. When Annie and Andy told us about the 1200 meter climb in the Pyrrenes I could only imagine it, now with experience I can say that it was actually pretty difficult. But we made it to Roncevalles in about eight hours and the toughest day is complete. My probelmatic right shoulder is hurting a bit, but other than that I´m in good shape. On goes the Camino...

In Pain...

OMG! Today was really rough. I had to leave this absoulutely beautiful town in France to head out on the by far...TOUGHEST work out of my life! I would have thought all that training would have made this a breeze...or even the fact that I ran track all four years in high school and cross country one. But what a mistake I made! It seems as if I was walking uphill forever! My legs were burning so bad and I prayed to God to go downhill and when that finally came, I was in pain again...this toes were getting. Nevertheless, I overcame all obstacles and I made it through this rigorous day. I'm so happy to say I did it. And the pay off was amazing. I saw so many beautiful sceneries...But I will be back at this again tomorrow. So I was told this was the roughest day of them all...I pray to God this is true, lol. Until then...

what a ride

so we all wake up at 5:30, our bags all packed and ready to go, and we hop on the bus to deal with a driver who drived like Neal Cassady (for those of you unfamiliar with Neal Cassady, he hugged the turns like a prostitute coming to you on a random street, cracked out outta her mind) That was our driver.

Personally, I read the entire trip. But as we got into the Pierrenes and I was nearing the end of my book, I looked up and noticed the entire bus had gone quiet and all the faces had turned a slime green. Casey, who sat in front of me, had his head in his hands... the gentle giant holding down the most immense amount of puke. Finally we arrive, sleep in our pilgrim house and began hiking this morning.

Our hike could not have been any more perfect. We woke at 6 and were on the trail at 6:30. The morning began with fog covering our path. As we climbed higher and higher, it eventually dissipated to reveal the most incredible view; at the highest pass, one side we could see the rolling farmlands of France, and the forests of Spain on the other. We get in, Andy and I had some beers (which I am most definitely still feeling) and now I feel like signing off.

So... peace. Time to eat, drink and be merry in Spain.

- Perry el Peregrino

Day One

Today was one of the greatest days of my life. ¨5:30 came early, but getting going early was key on such a grueling day. Caryn and I were on Caboose crew, so I was able to take the entire hike through the Pyrenes nice and slow. In all honesty, I am so glad that I was assigned to the back because this really allowed me to enjoy the scenery and the atmosphere. While some of my fellow peligrinos may not agree, I felt as if the fog made the entire day unbelievably sureal. I was literally and figuratively walking on the clouds today. At several different moments, I actually found myself peering down into the clouds.......crazy. When we finally hit the top of the Pyrenes (1200 meters of beauty and sweat), the sight was breathtaking. We sat down, ate our second sanwich of the day, and actually took a nap atop the beatuful peak overlooking our destination. In town, I met up with a man named Marcos from Portugal, and he showed me his entire plan for the camino along with some pictures. I was overwhelmed by his generosity and his willingness to share his story. Later I am going to be sharing my pictures with Marcos as well. He plans to complete the Camino in 27 days, so I fear we might be running a little behind our blistering pace. Another day, Another hike tomorrow. Mom and Dad, I love you.


We are in Spain

The first (and toughest) day of hiking is over and the group is all here except for poor Chun Yi who is meeting us in Pamplona given the snafus presented in his air travel. Today was absolutely amazing so friends and family, await the posts from your loved ones because they will be contributing soon.

Monday, June 26, 2006

GIEU Camino de Santiago 2006

GIEU Camino de Santiago 2006

So...this place is pretty beautiful, but it also seems so small. Weird...right? I feel like I have walked this city like 50 times and now know it like the back of my hand! Holly and I were just discussing how these past two days have felt like a week! Please dear Lord, don't let this time go this slow, but don't let it past either.

GIEU Camino de Santiago 2006

GIEU Camino de Santiago 2006

So...this place is pretty beautiful, but it also seems so small. Weird...right? I feel like I have walked this city like 50 times and now know it like the back of my hand! Holly and I were just discussing how these past two days have felt like a week! Please dear Lord, don't let this time go this slow, but don't let it past either.

i hate titles

Seeing as we begin our adventure on the camino tomorrow, it seems appropriate that I finally post on this blog. I have had a little different of a training experience than everyone else; rather than walking in Ann Arbor or the Sand Dunes like Alec, I´ve been hiking around Paris, the Swiss Alps (actually, LOTS of Switzerland), Barcelona and Madrid for the past 3 weeks.

Now, after a schizophrenic, ethereal experience through Europe, it is a pleasure to be around familiar faces from home, rather than familiar faces from the hostel bar last night. I´m really unsure as to what to expect from our upcoming adventure, but I know that I hope to be pushed to the precipice of both my physical and emotional limits... and then shoved over.

- Perry

Happy Endings aren´t just for movies

So here´s my story.....I arrived at Detroit Metro Airport with Madrid on my mind. I was ready to face the world as my mother drove away (with a few tears streaming down the face). Full of confidence and excitement, I patiently awaited the arrival of my dependable, responsible partner in crime, The Miss Ti-Yanna. Miss Ti-Yanna was important to operation Madrid because I had no clue what was going on. I am not exaggerating when I say this. Hostel reservations, directions.....pretty much everything you need for a successful operation. For time´s sake, let´s now jump to our layover in London.
NO Ti-Yanna. At this point I have given up hope that she and I might have missed eachother somehow on the plane, but I am trying to keep my cool, and act as any mature, able 20 year old I started to cry. Just kidding but i wanted to. Fast forward to Madrid.
No Ti-Yanna. Backpack Lost. No directions to hostel. No clue what the name of the Hostel even is. I´m trying to get online to use the computer but my card wont work. I am realizing that I have no clue where I am staying for the first time in my entire life. My Spanish is much worse than expected. So I do what any mature, able 20 year old might do........I call my mom. And she informs me that Ti-Yanna missed the flight but gives me the info I need to get to the hostel......Man I love my Mom. Fast forward to today.
Washed my clothes last night for the first time. It felt really good to slip into clean underwear after a three day tour. My bag arrived in Madrid over night and was delivered finally moments before this post. Saw some amazing art at the museum. Had a great time on my whirl wind tour of Madrid, and I am beginning to realize that everything worked out wonderfully as at always seems to in the end. Thank you to everyone who helped with the back pack fiasco, and I can´t wait to get going tomorrow.´

ps. Ti-Yanna, you´re still my go to guy

El Camino

I´m in Madrid now, enjoying the vibrant and diverse atmosphere of the Spanish capital. I arrived Saturday after flying in from Berlin. I spent a week with a friend of mine who lived with my family three years ago. Chrisoph lives in a small town nestled in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. The week was excellent, but I unfortunately caught a bad stomach virus the day I left the United States. I was throwing up during my entire flight to Amsterdam. I felt better after landing in Germany, but I soon had a fever, followed by a second fever, and then finally a bout with diarrhea, all of which left me 5 pounds lighter. The worst part was missing out on so much German food. But I healed after 6 or 7 days, regained the 5 , and now I´m back to 100%.

Madrid has been very exciting. My roommate at my hostel was from Argentina, and I spent some time with him, exploring the city and practicing my Spanish. The Prado, the Reina Sofia, the flamenco, the gardens, and the bullfights all provide a glimpse into a unique culture, but this is only the beginning. The Camino will immerse me in the Spanish culture that I have come to love. However, a huge mental and physical challenge awaits the group. 500 miles is not an easy task, but I am confident that we will learn, grow, and discover something new about each other.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Allie, Ryan, Holly, and I are here at Hostal Acapulco. The trip here was long, but fairly painless. Ryan and I played the Onflight Trivia Challenge for probably 4 hours with a bunch of other people on the plane. Unfortunately though, we did not sleep. When we got here we took the metro to the hostel. I wanted to try and speak some Spanish, but when we arrived we were so tired, and I shamelessly blurted out, ¨Can we speak English?¨ I feel intimidated speaking Spanish here, so I´ll have to be better tomorrow. After an accidental six-hour nap, and little bit of a bullfight on TV, we went out to a little restaurant called Restaurante Puerto Rico that Javier (from the hostel) recommended to us. I had an omelette that was stuffed with potatoes. We also got a big jug of sangria, so we ended up staying at the restaurant for a while so we could make sure we finished it. After dinner we walked around for a while, but we felt very tourist-y and out of place since we were really just wandering. Allie and I noticed that we are out of seems as though all of the girls here wear white pants. We were reading horoscopes in the lobby here earlier, and mine definitely said something about problemas musculares.... hmmm.

a prologue

As Caryn, Allie, and I exited the underwhelming atmosphere and florescent lighting of the Madrid Metro (after a difficult time of navigating) into the overwhelmingly beautiful and sunny Gran Via, I immediately realized that after a long wait the camino will soon begin. Two months of training and anticpation in Ann Arbor were quickly washed away with the sights of Spanish culture and architecture...If only we had been able to sleep on the plane to enjoy this first day. The ill-advised mid-afternoon six hour nap documented below may have thrown us off a bit but we´ll see. We have a couple days to enjoy the city and enjoy the city we will. Art, food, suspect Spanish speaking abilities, covert tourism, and a ridiculous amount of culture (including a Picasso retrospective commemorating his 125th birthday!) are at our disposal while trying to adjust to ridiculous jet lag. It will be a time...

Viva Espana,

i am here too.

hmmm, well, my adventures to madrid were not quite the same as those of allie, ryan, and caryn. i, too, had spent the sping in ann arbor, training with the bunch in the arb. my dad flew out to ann arbor to help me drive back to my home in minnesota. i feel as though this has become a rather reoccuring theme, but my time at home, my time in ann arbor, it all whipped by and i can hardly believe i´m standing here in madrid about to start a five hundred mile trek. in the little time i spent at home, i had somehow managed to develop blisters, and not even from my hiking boots. it´s all about inconvenient timing, i guess. somehow my skip across the pond had gone rather smoothly, supringly smoothly. i had flown out of the minneapolis-st. paul with the reassurance of mom, that if things ever got to hard for me, i could always just fly right back home. my first layover was in chicago. on my way there i sat next to a businessman who in his college years had managed to backpack europe numerous times, and had hoped to be fired from his job when it was taken over by new ownership so he could spend his summer in spain. regrettably, he was not fired, and i would be the one spending my summer in spain. i soon found myself in london, heathrow, absolutely out of control. i waited in ´´lines´´ forever and sure enough, as soon as i was on the plane managed to pass out, yet once again. again missing, the free beverage, the free meal, and meh, pretty much the whole traveling thing. which was quite fine with me, with how long i had been traveling. i had made all of my connections and no one harrassed me about bringing my backpack on as a carry-on, this just wasn´t how things usually go for me. now i was in madrid, and i had to find the metro. and i don´t really know spanish. of course, i had limited knowledge from highschool, but i really just go with the i don´t know spanish thing. i began walking around the airport hoping for some sign to point me in the direction of the metro. nothing (or so i thought). i finally began asking people in my weak spanish skills, and thankfully an airport worker was kind enough to escort me to one of the buses that would take me to terminal two were i would then have navigate my way to gran via. not a problem, suprisingly again. finding the hostal was another story though, i won´t go into the details here, but as per usual in any big city i always find myself in the rather sketchy areas. that doesn´t really matter though, cause i´m here now, safe and sound, and this blog has officially taken forever because the first try would not go through and i think (know) allie, ryan, and caryn are sick of waiting for me to finish. :)

Estamos aqui

Hola, this is Allie, Ryan, Caryn and Holly. We are standing the lobby of Hostal Acapulco on our first night in Madrid. We´ve come a long way, but it went surprisingly fast. I (Allie) am still trying to realize that we are actually in Spain -- and actually a couple days from beginning the Camino! We (Caryn, Ryan and I) successfully navigated the Metro and found our hostel right away. We got here a little before noon and, while our room´s air conditioning was being fixed, we more or less passed out on the couches in the lobby. Javier and the Acapulco staff were excellent -- they kept us updated on the AC work, gave us a discount on our room rate, and complimentary water and snacks (8 Bom-Bom´s). Really, we could have slept on the floor, we were so tired. Once we got into our room, we decided to take a ¨short nap¨and use a watch alarm clock to wake up. Six hours later -- 8 p.m. Madrid time -- we woke up and realized that our nap was accidentally far too long... On the plus side, we had slept like dead people, and felt all ready to venture out on the town and get some food. We waited until about 9, in the meantime found Annie and Holly who had arrived during our intense nap, and walked around the building to Restaurant Puerto Rico...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Five days to go

It is crazy to think that in five short days we will start our pilgrimage. I have never prepared for anything I've done like this aside from sports as a teenager. Starting 12 weeks ago, I began training in anticipation for this program and it is hard to believe that it (the training) is at an end and now the real adventure begins.

In many regards, I am frustrated with my progress. I wish I were fitter, thinner, and stronger but at the same time recognize I could have done more. In the end, the training proved to be rewarding on so many levels. Through our daily walks, I got to know many of the participants and appreciate what they will bring to the team. Ryan the artist, Caryn the planner, Allie the scholar, Holly the musician, Chun Yi the comic and our beloved Nick from the 2004 team frequently accompanied and motivated me to meet the weekly goals. Without their companionship, this first half of our program would have been helplessly boring.

And so it begins...

Well, I awoke today with a jolt and the realization that I leave tomorrow morning early for Spain...that sure came on fast. I just returned to Boulder two days ago after a breathtaking 4-day backpacking venture in the great sand dunes natl park, and I definitely have some packing to do before my 4 am departure manana. Banks need calling, clothes need washing, flights need verifying, directions and reservations must be secured, and all I want to do is go swimming. Alas, it is not to be.

Spain Ho!

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I've been slowly trying to get all of my things together. I'm kind of a last minute person. All in all, what I am beginning to realize is that I have no clue what I am getting myself into. And to be perfectly honest, I'm pretty content to just roll with the punches. I can't wait for the adventures to come. Hasta pronto Espana.

The countdown is on

The time has finally arrived. Two years is too long to wait between trips. Tonight I am washing all my clothes and packing my backpack to see how it is for weight. Here are some of my packing tips for the rest of you who are doing the same. First, pack light. Last time when we set out we were heckled by the other pilgrims for our mammoth pack and insane weight we were carrying, and rightly so. Lots of us suffered from sneaking in an extra pair of shoes or jeans. Second, pack sensibly. The heavy stuff goes on the bottom and closer to your back. Everything possible should be in your bag. Don’t leave things hanging out or tied to the outside. At this point, if you can’t fit it in now, you need to do some serious repacking. Third, go back and cull again. That means make sure you are taking the tiniest shampoo bottle necessary, the smallest toothbrush, the least amount of underwear. Remember, the towns we walk through have had pilgrims walking through them for nearly two thousand years. They have most anything you might need to buy along the way.
I am really looking forward to meeting everybody. Thanks so much to Andy who has had to do much of the work while I was off in Paris. See you all in Madrid.