medieval madness revisited!

I can’t believe that this time last year I was in Spain spending the day at a medieval festival in the little town of Hospital D’Orbigo.  Or that a few short days will bring the one-year anniversary of the start of my Camino in Sarria.  The first weekend in June each year is a weekend of celebration in fabulous Spanish medieval style in Hospitale and people come from miles around to participate in dressing up, shopping, dancing, traditional games, displays of medieval life, fabulous food, jousting and general merriment overlooking a bridge steeped in history (and scaffolding along with most of the rest of Spain’s wonders that have seen a lot of history) – part of that history is said to have inspired the tale of Don Quixote.

Never having been to a medieval festival before (well, Australia doesn’t date back that far so it’s not a huge tradition here) I wasn’t sure what to expect but hoped it would be marvellous and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!  Here is a picture of the roving clowns performing a tale of the Camino – I got that much out of it at least even though I couldn’t understand most of it!!

The small town evolved into a riot of colour and sound and I spent several hours happily exploring all the festival had to offer.  My biggest dilemma of the day was what, out of all the beautiful things on offer, should I buy to commemorate the occasion and my Camino that I wouldn’t mind carrying with me for the 100+ kilometres of my journey on foot through Northern Spain.

I finally settled on a beautiful copper colour enamelled scallop shell necklace on a leather chain which I then wore for every step of my journey until I returned to Paris and family where such things are not really en vogue (in Paris that is, I don’t think my family would have cared!).

Looking through the windows today at the miserable weather, strong wind, rain and a gloomy, never-ending white cloud cover it is not hard to wish I was back there again in the sun and heat of the Spanish spring/summer but I have those memories and I plan to go back soon and make more – probably the same time of year again so I can visit Hospitale on that first weekend in June and re-live one of my favourite festival days to date! Here’s the original post from a year ago.

Happy (belated) Blogiversary to me :)

Once again I have been neglecting my blog and now the 1 year anniversary from my first published post has been and gone – oops!  In my defence I have been rather busy doing things like study, socialise, volunteer with St John, make stuff to sell at markets and things and, of course, not being able to leave the house due to symptom flare-ups.  So all in all a productive month I think!  The dysautonomia stuff is being its usual lovely roller coaster but I am in a much better place with it than I was this time last year.  My medications seem to be helping stabilise it a bit and my cardiologist is, as always, amazing.  I have an exercise physiology session once a week with an awesome group of POTS girls which has proved to be entertaining so far – we have more classes that don’t end in hospital visits than ones that do and there is usually a fair amount of giggling and chattering during exercise.  I know the general theory is if you can talk you’re not exercising hard enough but it’s not that kind of exercise – it’s more pilates based using a reformer and other nifty machines.

But enough of now, this is the time for reflection, for looking back to 1 year ago and seeing where I was, what I was doing and how far I have come from there.  Well I think we can safely say I have travelled quite a distance.  Just over a year ago I read a book, a very inspiring book – a book that made me want to travel across the globe and walk in the footsteps of thousands upon thousands of others throughout the course of history.  In just over one month it will be a year since I got on that plane at Tullamarine bound for Europe and glory in the form of the Camino.  I had no idea what to expect, what wonderful (or otherwise) things would happen, what I would see and experience, what I would learn about both life and myself or who I would meet on the way.  I had been to Paris before so that wasn’t a huge leap, I was meeting up with family so it wasn’t really outside my comfort zone and I had a basic grasp of French (degraded over years of neglect from an intermediate grasp of French!).  The bit that came after would be the challenge.  I was so caught up with the excitement and magnitude of what I was about to attempt that I didn’t really think about what would happen when I was finally on my own – out in the world, in a foreign country whose language (beyond ‘Hola’, ‘Grazias’, ‘Buen Camino’ and ‘donde esta cajero automatico’) I didn’t know.  And how in the hell was I going to walk that far every day?

Some days now I don’t know how I did it, when I can hardly move from fatigue or when I can hardly stand because my heart runs a marathon and my blood pressure slowly gives in to the pull of gravity when I do it seems a bit surreal.  Did I imagine the whole thing?  But no, I was there, I have the mark on my arm and my name on a certificate that I can’t read to prove it.  Prove it to myself and the world so I never forget what I can do, what I have done and trust me, with something as crappy as a chronic illness like dysautonomia you need it.  And I really need to go back to the studio and get it touched up!  Oh, and I also have this picture!

The Camino was life condensed.  You could live a decade in one day – I am still not completely sure how or why but it happened.  You almost need a day of rest and reflection after every day of walking just to take it all in and do it justice.  And for anyone wanting to get a taste of the Camino without leaving home then the movie ‘The Way’ has just come to Australia.  Directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen it is a beautiful story about loss, grief, and really finding yourself in the most unexpected place.  I highly recommend it 🙂
Even though the part that I walked doesn’t actually feature in the movie – it’s been completely skipped over which is frustrating!  And sad as Galicia was beautiful in the spring, but I guess when you have over 800km to chose from you can’t have it all in the movie!

Better get back to work – I have a stall at an awesome market tomorrow and need to get some stuff finished!  It’s ‘Worn Wild’ – the alternative fashion market that comes to Melbourne twice a year.  I am so excited to be part of it this year!  Here’s a flyer – check it out!  And if you’re interested here is the link to my facebook page for my accessories company – Cherry Pie Accessories – which will hopefully be a company soon instead of a hobby!

That’s all from me today
Buen Camino everyone 🙂

Life is a gravitron

It can be hard sometimes to keep moving when your life feels like being stuck inside a gravitron at a fun park. You know; always moving in circles really fast, beyond your control and making it hard to move forwards (or backwards for that matter or even sideways but occasionally upside down can happen) – then someone vomits and it flies back and hits them in the face. Ok maybe apart from the last bit but you get what I mean.

It’s been an interesting few weeks and I’ve been thinking about the Camino a lot. It has now been 4 months since I started walking (give or take a few days) and I have come full circle – back to where I was before I decided to go, in a place that I don’t care to visit often. But it’s ok; I think I’m out the other side of that now. It was tough for a while but something changed that. I had no hope, I couldn’t see a future I could enjoy and I was falling down the spiral again to a place in my mind that I haven’t been for a while.

Then I had my first session of Mickel therapy and it changed. Mickel therapy is a new treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME and Fibromyalgia. It works on the theory that these three conditions are caused by a dysfunction of the Hypothalamus gland in the brain that is responsible for all sorts of things including sleep, fatigue levels and the autonomic nervous system. I noticed a change after my first session, not a huge one but I do have more energy, a bit less brain fog and my heart rate which for months has been a little unpredictable and ridiculous is now between 75-80bpm at rest and hopefully wont jump so high when I do outrageously energetic things like standing and walking short distances.

In other news I have been occupying my pathetic time by making fascinators to add to my collection of other stuff I’ve made over the years to keep me from going insane while I couldn’t work and plan to sell soon. I will hopefully be having a stall at the South Melbourne Market’s ‘Style By Night’ series of night markets starting October 20th – unfortunately a few days late for Caulfield cup but in plenty of time for Melbourne Cup, Derby day, Oaks day, Stakes day and Cox plate! Here’s an example of what I’ve been making and to see more check out my accessories page on facebook.

The day after

The day after the Camino

This morning I am rather hung over – whoever thought tequila shots were a good idea last night was crazy.  Tequila is never a good idea (particularly when it follows a lot of wine).  So after I got to my hotel, had a rest and a bath (yay full sized bath!), unpacked my pack, did some washing (and freaked out at the way my middle toe had doubled in size from a blister that would mean my toenail would eventually come off) I headed out to meet up with the girls for celebratory wine and tapas at a bar nearby.  When I was almost at the bar I rounded a corner and who should I see having Tapas at another bar? Zie Germans!  They had arrived in Santiago the previous day so it turns out they weren’t that far ahead of me after all, if I hadn’t stopped for a rest day we would have arrived on the same day but then I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people.

I met the girls at the tapas bar – they had managed a trip to Zara and a cosmetics store so looked gorgeous, I was in my spare clean hiking clothes accompanied by my hot pink teeva sandals and socks – yep, Camino fashion at its best!  We struck up a conversation with a bunch of students at the next table – well, when I say we I mean they chatted and my friends translated for me while I made up my own translation as we went.  It got more amusing after a glass of wine or two, particularly as their names were Nacho, Igo and Piker.  Then we joined them for some bar-hopping and us girls were treated to a few Galician delicacies including pigs ear, mussels and a strange cheesy, soapy and vaguely corn flavoured white wine.  Somewhere along the way we met the Santiago pilgrim – a guy who makes his living (or rather drinking) by dressing up as a pilgrim and wandering the streets of Santiago

 After stopping at most of the bars along the street (every door has a bar behind it) and trying a glass of wine or so at each we finally ended up at the bar that all the other pilgrims seemed to have found.  Then someone insisted on Tequila.  It was a blast, I saw quite a few other pilgrims I had crossed paths with along the way including supercaminoman and the general vibe in the bar was one of celebration and relief.

Later on a group of English and Russian tourists arrived and I was able to have a whole conversation in English for the first time that night only to realise that my brain could no longer speak proper English and was firmly stuck in basic easy-to-understand English which was accompanied by excessive hand gestures and not helped by the amount I had had to drink or how tired I was.

It’s funny how the Camino makes everything come together; how you see the same people at different times.  It is like an isolated pocket of destiny.  Life and just being are so much more intense than at home.  People are different, places are different, all experiences are somehow more acute and emotions are more powerful.  One thing, however, remains exactly the same – hangovers…

The music of life

Music is a huge part of my life so before I set out for Spain and the great unknown I made a playlist of songs I thought would help me along the road to Santiago.  My Camino  playlist is now complete (with a little help from my friends) and covers everything from Metal to Disney (kinda like my normal music collection), it started off as 10 songs but then went on to 15 and finally finished at 20.  I have only doubled up on one artist though several artists featured frequently in my playlist, with all the rest I have just included the most applicable song – enjoy

  1.  I’m on my way (well I had to didn’t I!) by The Proclaimers; Completely essential in my opinion and I set out from Sarria on my very first day with it coming through my headphones – because I was!
  2. I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – also by The Proclaimers;  also completely essential for any longer distance walking or even a visit to the pub/tapas bar a little later on when (I imagine) the drunker Australians and Brits arrive and loudly join in with the chorus (and then mumble their way through the versus) – well they do at home so I’m assuming the Camino is no different.
  3. Catch my disease – Ben Lee; I started many days with this song because the beat is good for walking, it is also cheeky, cute and uplifting.  Ben Lee is also a comedian so it can be hard to imagine someone from that area singing but he actually does a pretty decent job of it – the song is a few years old and I have no idea if he’s done much recently and no, I don’t think the song is actually about communicable diseases…
  4. China – Sparkadia; I love this song it is beautiful so it was really quite fitting that it accompanied one of the most significant moments of my Camino.  I first heard of this band when they played on Adam Hills’s program ‘Live in Gordon St Tonight’ and was completely blown away by the song.  Since then it has been one of my favourites.  I haven’t added the video because it’s on my last post.
  5. I want to break free – Queen; Pretty self-explanatory really!  I think most people walk the Camino to get away from the demands of their daily life amongst whatever other reasons they may have and traveling to Spain to walk 800km or however far you chose is a pretty good way to achieve that!
  6. Down with the Sickness – Disturbed; Perfect for when you need just need to put your head down, shut your brain off and bully your feet into getting up that tough hill – or shut out the incessant prattling of a tour group.
  7. The Cave – Mumford and sons;  I saw Mumford and Sons in Hyde Park (London) after leaving Spain and it was amazing,  I’ve never been to an outdoor concert with quite so many people in one place – it was similar to the Australian ‘Big Day Out’ but for only one stage.  I really liked the band before the concert but now I love them even more.  I hadn’t heard of them before their song ‘Little Lion Man’ came number one in the Tripe J hottest 100 in 2010 – I then found that my brother loved them so listened to his collection of their music (he is often my source of ‘new’ music as I tend to listen to my own playlists or Triple M which plays Rock music and not often new Rock music).
  8. The river of dreams – Billy Joel;  The man, the legend!  I was so sad when i missed him in concert when he was last in Australia and I will be lining up overnight if necessary to see him if he comes back.
  9. The Greatest love of all – Whitney Houston; Well you have to really don’t you because if you don’t find love inside yourself along the way you’re going to be pretty sore and miserable by the end (not that you wont be sore anyway but if you can’t find love in yourself you’re not really going to listen to or appreciate your body as much as you could be).
  10. Burn your name – Powderfinger;  There will always be a place in my heart for this legendary Australian band and for this song in particular.  I absolutely love it and it’s great to help you forget your aching feet and how many kilometres you have to go and just let yourself go with the music.  I saw their final farewell tour last year in Melbourne and will never forget it.
  11. If I ever leave this world alive – Flogging Molly;  Irish music has a great beat and uplifting sound that is just as appropriate for hiking as jumping around a pub with a pint in your hand and this song is no exception but the version on the ‘PS I love you’ soundtrack is a bit better than this youtube clip
  12. Blame it on the boogie – The Jacksons; This is a great song to bring out the hiking pole accompaniment for.  As I danced my way through the outskirts of Melide I did feel a little concerned that anyone trying to pass me would end up with a stick in the face as I acted out my customary dance moves for ‘sunshine’, ‘moonlight’, ‘good times’ and ‘boogie’ but fortunately nobody was trying to at the time.  There are some songs that are timeless and I believe this is one that can get any generation on the dance floor (or tapping out the rhythm on The Way)
  13. F**k you – Cee Lo Green; most appropriate for a tough stretch when you just need to stick it to the man (or hill, or whatever) and keep moving so you can get where you need to be.  On a more personal note, I am a huge fan of all the Cee Lo songs I have heard, I think he has a fantastic voice and gift for music that is (i believe) rare in the modern top 40 where a lot of it is electronically altered to within an inch of its life or just plain crap.  It seems to be rare to have a male African American artist who can not only sing well but isn’t trying anything along the lines of rap (which I don’t tend to understand) and whatever Usher, Akon and Chris Brown call what they’re doing.
  14. Born this way – Lady Gaga;  Ok, I confess, I do actually quite like a lot of lady Gaga’s music – no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to don 10 inch platform shoes and put cans in my hair or whatever and join the screeching masses at one of her concerts (although it would be interesting).  I do think that a lot of her songs have musical merit, they are simple and catchy and a few of them even have moral messages – not that some over protective mothers would believe their children should be listening to someone who wears dresses made of meat or occasionally very little coupled with big hair and bigger shoes but hey, a song that says I’m beautiful in my way ’cause God makes no mistakes (etc) even if you don’t believe in God (which I don’t) has got to be a good thing for the self esteem of impressionable young people and it is certainly uplifting to hear your mp3 player telling you were completely awesome and perfect when you were born and still are when you’re already congratulating yourself for being on the home stretch of a 115km hike.
  15. Don’t Rain On My Parade – Barbara Streisand;  A song from a famous musical sung by Barbara, yes I know that’s what she does and she does it well but this one is special.  It’s completely relevant to the playlist – it’s all about independence and determination.  Don’t tell me not to do something because I have to, I am the one taking risks not you and I am the one deciding that these risks are worth taking so don’t try and talk me out of it and don’t put my decision down – so there!  This had been a rather recurring scenario during the planning phase of my trip – and then of course there was the real rain…
  16. Higher than hope – Daryl Braithwaite; Another amazing Australian talent and even though his time was 10 years ago his songs still echo in the hearts of the generations who were lucky enough to hear them
  17. What a wonderful world (and I think to myself); Well I don’t think it’s possible to walk any of the Camino without coming to the conclusion that the world we live in is a very special and wonderful place and that there are some amazing people in it.  So if you need an excuse to gain some perspective, get away a bit, reaffirm the love within yourself and with the world around you, look no further than the Camino de Santiago – it will change your world
  18. The Bare necessities – The Jungle Book; Courtesy of Mars – because all you need on the Camino are the bare necessities.  You carry your life on your back and anything superfluous quickly gets left behind.
  19. Dock of the bay – I know there are probably more appropriate songs to sing at a place of such spiritual and historic significance like Finisterre but this was what came to my mind – whistling and all.  Though it is hard to whistle when you’re freezing cold and the weather is rather windy even if you are viewing one of the most spectacular sunsets of your life (made even more so by its significance.
  20. It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine) – REM; If you journey on to Finisterre from Santiago you really are at the end of the world – well, where the ancient Roman’s believed the end of the world was so the song naturally occurred to our minds and of course then we had to sing it (well the chorus at any rate – does anyone actually know all the lyrics to this song?!)…

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