As you know, we thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1991, and Pat and Jean also completed the trail in one season in 1996. We know that they are accomplished hikers and would be great partners for such an adventure as the El Camino. In addition, they have already completed one aspect of this trek by hiking from a point in France, crossing the Pyrenees and entering Spain to end the first journey in Santiago, Spain. The route they already completed is the most used route of the El Camino de Compostela. The experience that they have had would make them wonderful trail guides for the pilgrimage from Lisbon, Portugal to Santiago, Spain, the second most popular route.
On one hand, Latona and I had moments of excitement and anticipation as we thought about joining them for this journey, El Camino Portugal. And on the other hand, we were very reluctant to tackle another large adventure. They trail will cover 400-450 miles and we will carry our packs but with much smaller weight on our backs. We went back and forth...maybe yes...maybe no.
The timing was important if we really wanted to go because we needed to buy our plane tickets immediately to get the good price that Pat and Jean already found. So when we left them to head to Big Pine Key, we said we would let them know in five days what we decided. As we drove away, we both felt we would probably just forget it! BUT, as we often do to get some direction from our Higher Power, we put out a feeler. Latona said, "if we hear the words "El Camino" in the next five days, we will know we have an open door and an invitation for one more adventure! We will believe we should go on this trip."
Some of our major reservations included the possible needs of our children and grandchildren so. The other big question focused on what would happen if my mother needed us while we were gone. But we believed that if our prayer for direction was answered that the other details and concerns would be taken care of as well. At this time, we had not said anything to anyone about this possible adventure.
So, we arrived in the Keys, got settled in our site and began camp life as we know it for the winter months. We have Netflix, so once it got dark in the evening, we started to watch the seasons of Bones. On the second night, during the program a young girl mentioned her boyfriend's El Camino truck. We couldn't believe it. We replayed it over and over, and finally realized we had an open door. We bought our plane tickets the next day, on January 7.
A gift from Pat and Jean above and a picture of the route below.
So here we are, just two days from boarding the plane for Lisbon, Portugal. In the intervening months,
It has worked out that we have been able to visit our children and also help my mom get settled with my sister in Pennsylvania. I will include a few shots from our recent visits:
At Katrina and Mikes on Chemo Pond...
Latona with the dogs
Almost the whole clan with my mom at Dotty and Forry's house, getting settled in with family.
(Thanks to nephew Hank for the photo)
And with her cats, Hansel and Gretel
Sari jumping her horse. She is our soccer player.
And Lyla jumping too. She has just made it onto an AAU basketball team. Excitement everywhere.
And we recently celebrated Carries birthday...
Now it is time to focus on the pilgrimage ahead. We will travel through Portugal from Lisbon, staying in hostels at night and hopefully travelling around 10-15 miles per day. We will have our pilgrims passport stamped at each stop and hope eventually to reach the pilgrims destination, the cathedral at Santiago, Spain, believed to house the remains of the Apostle James. So much to think about!
My understanding is that a pilgrimage is a walk with a special invitation from God to get closer to the Spiritual reality of life. To realize we are spiritual beings on a physical path...not physical beings on a spiritual path. We have the opportunity to respond to this invitation...I say a joyful YES!
The Daicey Duo is Ready to go!