Camino: Porto to Santiago, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

Birds on a wire

IMG_8706

The view from my terrace this evening, Doves on the wire in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. November 2019.

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in some old midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

— Leonard Cohen – “Bird on the Wire,” 1979

What can possibly be more free than birds on a wire?

They come. They go. They gather. They fly off on a whim.

Doves gather and coo sweet nothings in each others’ ears.

But mostly they sit silently,  thinking thoughts beyond our reach and ken.

They enjoy the buzzy thrum of power surging beneath their feet.

They face forward, into the weather, keeping feathers unruffled.

Much as we wish we could go through life.

IMG_5611

Blackbirds watch the world whiz by from a safe perch in Porto, Portugal. October 2019.

The next best thing to birds on a wire?

Birds on a rail.

Eleven blackbirds all in a row.

What a conversation up there!

Blackbirds tell each other the most inappropriate jokes. They make fun of the tourists passing below.

They insult each other and slap each other on the back before flying off in search of a beer.

Separately.

IMG_6399 (1)

Illusions. Tui, Spain. October 2019.

We walk past buildings and see loose wires, draped across the front.

“An unsightly mess,” we think. Then we walk on.

Into the unsightly mess that is our lives.

The rare soul sees art, or the opportunity for art.

Even rarer is the one who commits the act of art.

Enabling the rest of us, who have passed the same wire for untold ages,

to smile, to chuckle, to enjoy the whimsy of an artistic soul/warrior.

Commit art where and when you can.

Be like Leonard Cohen.

Express yourself.

Let the rest of the world figure it out.

Advertisements
Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

img_7300

Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

img_7197

Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.

A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)

We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Nothing to do for two hours except lie in the grass and let the mind drift with the clouds

IMG_7087

This is me, as we wait for our auberge to open at the end of a lovely day hiking from Padron. Two hours of absolutely nothing. I kept track of the cloud formations and listened to my clothes dry in the warm sun.

img_7090Padron to A Coruña (20 km, felt like a constant climb)

I’m flat on my back. I can’t move.

Or, maybe I don’t want to move.

My boots are off. Yes, my boots are off. I can see the tips of my socks. I can smell them. So, I must have taken my boots off. Yes? That is a specific act. Not an accident.

My backpack is not where it is most often during the day: on my back. So, that too, is a clue. Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Walking the Camino with Whitman, seeking the poet’s path between reality and the soul

img_6927-1The land and sea, the animals, fishes, and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests, mountains, and rivers, are not small themes … but folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects … they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.

— From Walt Whitman’s original introduction to “Leaves of Grass” 

Today is the day I found the path between reality and the soul.

To say that the path we walked was simply the most beautiful in all of the Portuguese Camino is difficult. There have been many remarkable sights. None, however, affected me quite like this one. Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Slow down, walk in mindfulness, and the Camino’s hidden beauty is revealed

img_6774

An element of a plaza water fountain in Pontevedra, in which the shape of the spouting water is constantly changing to some hidden rhythm. The statue of the little boy always seems to get his mouthful, however.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (22.2 kilometers, felt like 22.2 except for a very flat stretch of open and empty road after the sun came out)

We awake to a different Pontevedra this morning. Last night, we walked through gray granite and stone canyons, brightened only by the logos and signage of commerce and colorful storefront pitches for their wares, and the occasional art installation. And graffiti, ambitious graffiti murals in fluorescent colors.

But otherwise, a gray city fostering teeming waves of pedestrian life along traffic-free streets. 

Now, in the morning gloom, the rain and the streetlamps have washed everything with a shimmering amber sheen. A neon art project sings like an aria to the skies above. The pulsing cherry-sherbert lighting on a plaza fountain vibrates with a force unfelt in daytime. Continue reading

Standard
Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Sometimes, the best moments on the Camino are not the views but the stories people tell

IMG_6648

This is Ponte Sampaio over the River Verdugo. This is yet another spot where Galacian fighters kicked the ass of Napoleon’s soldiers. This isn’t the first site we’ve encountered marked by the defeat of Napoleon’s army.

Redondela to Pontevedra (23 kilometers, felt just right)

Sometimes the best part of your day on the Camino isn’t the glorious autumn weather, or the cathedral-like walk through an ancient forest, or the breathtaking vistas that greet you at the crest of a difficult climb, or the journey back in time as you pass through a Medieval village along narrow cobblestone paths.

No, sometimes it is a simple story told by another pilgrim.

This happened on our walk between the mellifluously named cities of Redondela and Pontevedra. Continue reading

Standard