Back lane in a prairie town after a rainfall.
I am walking the Camino as you read this post. If all goes according to plan, we will walk from Orisson to Berguette, a tiny village after Roncevalles in Spain. Obviously this post was written before I left as I knew that I wouldn’t have internet access for another day or two at the least. Likely I will access internet in Pamplona which is famous for the running of the bulls.
The last full day in Saskatchewan was another dreary and cold day with the high only reaching 12C and the low threatening to approach zero overnight. Walking in the back lane was a mud festival as the ground is so soft from the frequent rains and cool weather. The weather also kept most people indoors which allowed me to wander a bit further than normal from my yard while skyclad.
Someone asked me if I was going to walk part of my Camino skyclad. To be honest I don’t think I will even try as there are hundreds of walkers in front of me and behind me, usually within sight, being passed or passing us in turn. The journey has a different impulse, a different goal, something that I can only suggest touches on the spiritual dimension. All pilgrimages work a change on the psyche and spirit of the men and women who walk them, a change that is not very predictable, sometimes not even wanted as it disturbs the way we live in the world and understand the world. Still, I do imagine that I will continue to sleep nude and meditate au naturel. Some things are not very negotiable.
The route we will be walking in Spain.
I wrote this post before leaving Canada with the intention of it’s being scheduled to appear at this time, the day when my wife and I take our first steps up the side of a mountain as we leave a town called Saint Jean Pied de Port.
Today is my wife’s sixty-fifth birthday. Setting this day as our first walking day was a very intentional act. I am sixty-six and we have both become “senior” citizens with all of the benefits that the status grants us back home in Canada – free entry into provincial parks, free fishing license, and reduced rates at most golf courses. I was going to say that reaching the golden years meant that we had retired from working, but that isn’t exactly true. We both continue to work at things that we love to do. She continues to be a care giver in a nursing home, and I continue to provide therapy in my office. We don’t have to work, our work is something in which we find great value, something that gives our life meaning.
The walk today is a short walk of only eleven kilometres, almost halfway up the mountain. We could probably hike the whole distance to the top and over it to the next pilgrim hostel, but we are not in a hurry. I need time to meditate, to sit at the edge of the walking paths so that I can write in my journal, as well as to wander off the path to take photos that call out to me with echoes of ancient stories. At this rate of hiking, we should reach Santiago in six weeks.
The train from Bayonne to Saint Jean Pied de Port at the Saint Jean station.
No, I didn’t take this photo, I borrowed it from a google search. Our train was likely the same train which we caught after a night’s stay in Bayonne. I have prepared this post ahead of time after doing an image search as I knew that for the next several days I wasn’t likely going to find time to write up blog posts. I know our schedule so it wasn’t something hard to do.
Since we were staying in a cheap hotel, I was able to meditate before leaving our room, of course meditation was au naturel. I have a feeling that this is going to become a rare way of meditating in the weeks to come. Tonight we sleep in Saint Jean Pied de Port after registering at the Pilgrim Office in the town.
Pilgrim massage in Spain on the Camino.
I got to have a massage before I left with my masseuse who has no issues with my being nude and undraped while she works on my hips and back. I am aware that there are massage opportunities en route but from what I understand, they are expensive. I found this photo from a pilgrim’s blog where he was able to get a massage while nude for a reasonable price. He didn’t say in which village that he found this opportunity, so I will have to discover opportunities, when needed, on my own.
What other opportunities will present themselves for me to experience being skyclad while on the Camino? A question with no answer in sight.
Jardins de Trocadero across the river from the Eiffel Tower.
The image is not a real person, rather it is a statue found in the Jardins de Trocadero which lays on the northwestern bank of the Seine River across from the Eiffel Tower. We have been through these gardens a few times on various visits to Paris. It’s unlikely that we will be wandering around these Gardens today as we have a train to catch in order to travel on to Bayonne where we intend on spending a night before taking our last conveyance to Saint Jean Pied de Port.
Paris is a magical place for me. I can still remember as if it was yesterday, the first evening my wife and I spend in Montmartre, having a drink at a tiny table while waiting to have our turn at getting our portrait done, a caricature really. I bought her a single red rose from a passing vendor and presented it to her.
Bayonee is a small city, more of a town than a city with just over 100,000 people. I don’t know what we will find there for accommodations as I didn’t book a hotel room. When we get there, we will discover what is available, leaving it chance, something that we will have to do for most of the nights during our stay in Spain when walking the Camino. We do have accommodations booked in Saint Jean and in Orisson a hostel just eleven kilometres passed Saint Jean. No other accommodations have been booked as we don’t know where or when we will be at any of the other stops along the pilgrimage route. We will be listening to our bodies and basing decisions on what they tell us.
Today we fly via Air Canada to Toronto then on to Paris.
Yes, if you are reading this today, August 23rd, we are likely flying on our way to Paris which we will reach tomorrow morning. From the airport in Paris we will take a train to Bayonne and then another little train to Saint Jean Pied de Port. It won’t be a day where nudity will make an appearance in my life.
I have flown into Charles de Gaulle airport about seven times if I remember correctly and never have I met an opportunity to fly nude. It would be some experience, a positive one if they didn’t turn on the air conditioning too much. This will be my wife’s fifth visit to France.
I love France and could see retiring there if I didn’t have grandchildren and children committed to living in North America for the foreseeable future. If France was home, I would definitely find myself in the south near the Mediterranean. Perhaps two months in Spain will make me change my mind.
The neighbour is waiting to drive us to the airport. Just think, tomorrow Paris and more.
A moment of reflection knowing that I will be out of my office for two months.
Yes, tomorrow I leave on my two month journey that will be physically, mentally and psychologically testing. Walking a 1000 kilometres – can I physically measure up to this task knowing that I have hip problems and heel spurs? I am not so worried about being able to handle the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with walking between 20 and 25 kilometres each day before searching for a place to sleep for the night. Rather than worry about it, I find myself looking at what I am leaving behind me.
Obviously, I am leaving my therapy practice. Arrangements have been made for contact during the two months, primarily through e-mail, with the knowledge that face to face sessions will resume with my return. I am also leaving my Buddhist corner within my office, my retreat into temenos through meditation. Yet, I will not be leaving behind meditation itself. If anything, I will end up doing more meditation than I have ever done during the pilgrimage tho the end of the world (Finisterre, Spain).
When I return, I will have changed. There is no way one can take such a journey and not change. As I say this, I was thinking of how I will become more of myself in the process, more aware of myself. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about my body changing though that will also be true. Will I return a broken man? Will I still be an advocate for naturism or will I find that I have abandoned that need, that impulse to be nude? Will I return at all? There are no guarantees about anything. But then again, there are no guarantees if one stays home believing that “home” will protect them from change.
Meditation indoors as the weather is continuing to be unfriendly for outdoor nude meditation,
It is another wet morning and quite chilly.I woke up before six this morning as the phone went off calling my wife to work at the nursing home. When I got up to turn on the coffee maker, I checked the thermostat only to find that it had dropped to 6C (43F) overnight. Brrr! At the time of my writing this post it finally warmed up to 13C (55F) with a promise of another four degrees Celsius to come.
The chores continue for our preparation for leaving our home for two months. Since we expect to return home to winter, we are making sure all paints and liquids now stored in the garage are placed in the basement. The last of the back yard ornaments need to be placed either in the garden shed or the garage for the winter as well.
One of the negative consequences of our leaving is that we will be unable to vote in our federal elections. I have only missed voting once for any election that has been called since reaching voting age. Regardless of whether or not my vote influences the choice for the riding in which I live, I still feel that my vote counts in the big picture. Voting is an affirmation to the self that one is part of a community. Even a black sheep is contained in a herd. Dissociation from the electoral process is akin to taking an eraser and attempting to erase one’s presence in life, at least a portion of that presence. One might think they are sitting on a fence because there is no one “worthy” of being elected, but in the final analysis, it really isn’t about the “other” or the “candidates” at all. The action of not voting is a statement of “self,” not “other.”
Those who know me, either face to face or in the Internet world of social media, I am a political person, involved and making my voice heard, and not just at election time. My concerns and statement reflect clearly my belief system of what it means to be a responsible person in terms of community, relations with others, with the environment, and even with advocacy for providing needed support systems for those who are victimized, abused, abandoned, or threatened by hate. Sitting on a fence is a statement that says community has no value because self has no value.
Meditate on this for a while.