Pondering My Vanity

Behold. Hair serum. What you see before you is a snapshot of a recent, somewhat difficult decision.

A few days ago, when Jason and I were packing up and leaving Santander, I mistakenly left behind my small bottles of hair products.

This is my first left behind items…Left behind items pretty much never find you again. My shampoo, conditioner and hair serum are gone forever. Actually, they will probably be a special find for a traveler coming behind us. Good for her (or him)!

Earlier on the Camino, Jason left behind a few items, but we have been able to make due without them. I decided I too ought to try to live with shampoo, etc.

My hair is really curly. It wasn’t long ago that a friend with curly hair was talking to me about a new way of “dealing with” curls. The trick was, never washing it with shampoo. Yes, take a shower, water your head and rub your scalp. The natural oils will eventually keep the hair from getting frizzy. It’s an all-around win. You don’t have to buy any products. Products for curly hair can be expensive, just ask any African American sister, she’ll tell you.

So, I tried for three days. I used water and scalp rubbing. Day 1 wasn’t so bad. Day 2, I felt like my hair was dirty. Day 3, my curls felt like heavy bands surrounding my face. I buckled and went into a salon.

Two kind and knowledgable hair stylists helped me pick out tiny bottles of good quality product. This magic bottle of serum, pictured above, will handle the frizz…just a couple of drops, they said.

I immediately walked back to our hotel (we’re currently taking a two-day break from the Camino to rest and celebrate our 27th anniversary) and took a shower using real shampoo and conditioner and two drops of serum.

I think it will work out all right for my hair, but why did this matter? Why should it matter?

All pilgrims give up many comfort items to travel the road on foot to Santiago. I have given up a few myself, including my preferred number of shoes, clothes (for changing and variety). Almost every item we carry now has at least two purposes, preferably three. For example, we use our shampoo, Jason’s cheaper stuff, as body soap, shampoo and laundry soap. My light-weight down vest and jacket become my pillow each night when stuffed into my pillow case. My light-weight towel often covers me at night if there is a chill in the air…but hair serum is simply hair serum. It is a tiny luxury that helps me feel okay about being a little bit grundgy overall.

Still, I wonder about whether or not this ought to be important. Did I miss an opportunity by not going longer without this comfort item?

I’ll keep reflecting on it and let you know when the Camino is complete. I suppose if I end up leaving my hair serum behind at another albergue, I’ll take it as a sign that I ought to go without for the remainder of our time. For now, no frizz and a clean smelling head and that does make me happy.

 

Beginning Thoughts on Pilgrimage

Guest post from Jason:

We were sitting outside a cafe, and I had a familiar experience.  A young man walked up to us seeking to sell some handcrafts.  We were clearly out of place, foreigners visiting this area – and a good opportunity for a sale.  I felt similar feelings visiting majority world cities in the past:  compassion for the person clearly working to alleviate his family’s poverty – and also a subtle resistance to being “targeted” for a sale.  This time was different, though.  We told him, ” Continue reading Beginning Thoughts on Pilgrimage

Day 1 and Climbing a Long Hill

 

After a jaunt around Bilbao to find breakfast and SIM cards (so we can text one another while here in Spain for a reasonable amount of $), we strolled along the Rio Bilbao to the Guggenheim. The city is remarkably charming and warm (in friendliness and in weather today). We are appreciating our Spanish as we try to get around from one place to another, though a few individuals have laughed at our word choice, calling our speech, Mexicano. We proudly bear the moniker and today the Spanish woman who welcomed us to the Albergue pulled out her Virgin of Guadalupe necklace to affirm her love for Mexico.

Which brings me to the second part of our day. We have officially started the Camino. We walked across town and up a long hill to the local Albergue (pilgrim hostel). Jason is fine and seems to be pain-free…I am finding it a challenge already.  There are about thirty beds in this location and about 18 people staying for the night. Two young men from North Dakota are on their 6th day. They both have blisters and pain in their knees. They are encouraging us to take it slow and enjoy a pace for going the long haul. One of them also said (when I commmented on the long hill we had to climb to get here).

“It’s better than going downhill. I’d rather go up two of those hills than go down once.”

I will ponder this comment next time I feel like complaining about an up hill walk.  He speaks as one with experience, having accomplished more extremes, up and down some difficult terrain, from the city of Irun where he and his buddy began.

We have our first two stamps on our Camino passports. (I’ll post a photo of those later). Dinner is served at 8:30 tonight. Spanish cena for pilgrims new and experienced.

Figuring Out the Walking Life

 

For about 2 or 3 months, we have been walking and hiking anywhere and everywthere we find ourselves. Today, we were able to walk a part of a Norwegian pilgrimage, one that takes the pilgrim to the church where St. Olav is buried, the Dom Kirke of Trondheim. It happens to be the place of coronations for the Norwegian King or Queen.   It seems that Olav, a king in the style of the times, forced pagans by the sword to convert to Christianity.  Unlike the times, however, he distributed power more evenly to his people and became very popular. He was cut down, literally, by his nobles who were not keen on sharing power with the masses. Following his death, a few notable healings took place in the presence of his corpse. Thus, a Saint was born. Since, that time, countless pilgrims have traveled to Trondheim to visit his resting place, including those seeking healing. The walk was beautiful and Jason and I were able to practice the discipline of searching for pilgrim signs and use maps downloaded to phone.

Pilgrim road sign and map


Continue reading Figuring Out the Walking Life

A (Slow?)Learning Curve

My blue tooth keyboard.


Folds into this.

Those of you who know and love me understand I am not the most technologically savvy person around, yet I have become victim to a few new gadgets and apps for this trip. Before I get into that, here’s a story that epitomizes my love/hate relationship with tech.

On the plane ride to Oslo yesterday, I was happily seated next to my husband, a frequent flyer with a partner airline of Air France. So, we sat in “plus seats”. Not first class, not business, but roomier than the cattle stalls, otherwise known as coach. And I will say…the booze flowed freely in this section of the plane. For those interested, the plane was some kind of huge airbus, two-story…first class folks were all lying in full-sized beds  with voluminous quilts thrown over their luxuriating bodies…(so it seemed).

As the plane arced into the glossy blue sky over San Francisco, I decided to read, as all writers must do on airplanes to show the rest of humanity that the written word is mightier than the screen, but eventually, I had to see what was showing on my entertainment system.

Yay! The Vikings I shrieked in my head. I’ve been told about this series and have been wanting to watch the story for a while now. Here it was…my guilt-free chance to binge watch something that might actually teach me about my family of origin. Plus, I’m heading to Norway, the land of the Vikings. This will really help with cultural sensitivity.

So, I started watching while drinking that red wine the flight attendant kept pushing on me. My tech was working perfectly. I finished the second episode of The Vikings and was getting ready for number 3 when my screen went blank.

At first, I started pushing buttons. I knew there was an easy fix. Eventually, I pushed various buttons (probably the ones I should never have touched…because, you know…tech works that way…if you touch the wrong button, it will punish you, but then, desperate binge watchers do desperate things. That was me.)

Meanwhile, Jason was finishing up episode 3 of The Vikings and tried to help me out a bit, by giving instructions on what I ought to do and pushing a few buttons on my console, thinking he could figure out the problem. (I think he probably broke it even more). Finally, he encouraged me to ask the flight attendant for help (he did not tell me…Jason never “tells” me to do anything, but he tries to the best of his ability to deftly lead me toward enlightenment…and most of the time, I am grateful.)

Instead, I shrugged and started reading again, but every 1/2 hour or so, I would push a few more buttons. As Jason was finishing episode 5 of The Vikings, he encouraged me more firmly to ask the flight attendant.

I pushed a few more buttons and ignored him.

After episode 6, he asked me. “Why don’t you want to ask for help?”

“They’re busy,” I said, “and I should be able to figure this out.”

Voila! And this is my tech dilemma and my constant stressor. I know I need to figure out my tech problems, yet I also realize how much MORE others understand about everything I’m trying to do. There are some people out there who want to help me, Like Bora, Jason, Chris, Abby, Loretta. I just need to ask.

Well, I did finally ask the flight attendant and two of them worked on the issue for a while, to no avail. They rebooted my computer twice and eventually offered me a free bottle of French wine because they felt so badly that I had no screen. If they had offered me the tv in first class, I would have taken it. They fell short of offering me that.

So…for this venture, I am trying to blog on WordPress for IOS. Easy. Piece of cake, you say! Yeah, right. We will not be trekking our laptops across Spain, though a part of me really wanted to do that. Instead, all my posting will happen on the phone, with my nifty keyboard (see photo). I will be learning how to do it and hopefully, how to do it well. By the end of July, I should be an expert on blogging via the phone. I will delight in helping you in any way, if you are a person like me who is on a learning curve and you want to blog from your phone. I owe it to humanity to help you because so many have helped me and will continue to help me.

And if I can’t solve your tech issues, I’ll just bring you over a bottle of wine!

Dog Left Behind

Luna

To bond with a dog is not so unusual. In fact, there are many people I know who would never contemplate leaving their dog for 3 months, but Jason and I are about to and today, our golden retriever, Luna, was dropped off with a wonderful family of five. All of them are excited to have her. Jason and I are feeling the loss. This is a beginning step of our Camino.