Unplugging

Well.

We’re home.

Lovely, lovely trip.  We just decided to unplug for 15 days.

No email ‘vacation message’ posted; no automatic voicemail message; no Facebook or Instagram announcements (…though I must admit, I did check social media occasionally and I did post to Photo Sharing).  Very little TV news, which was fine!

Journaling in real time was in a notebook where I kept our schedule, weather, towns, milestones, epiphanies, places of interest, people…

 

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Marly Camino

In January 2013, my 95 year old mother died peacefully in her sleep.  She’d lived with dementia for several years, and was unable to walk, care for herself, see to read or watch TV, or remember facts and details about her life.

Several weeks later, Barbara Mickler, the mother of my high school friend, Wendy Mickler Grindstaff, died.  Barbara also lived with dementia.

Having each viewed the film, The Way, with Martin Sheen and Emilo Estevez, Wendy and I fantasied about walking the Camino together, in memory of our mothers and in renewing our friendship beyond Facebook.  Yet while the film painted a picture of a relatively “easy” walk, our research into blogs and books of pilgrims showed us a more challenging and realistic picture of the journey.  We weren’t excited about carrying our packs, sleeping in dormitory-style albergues, or walking the entire 800 km of the Camino Frances.  So Wendy, being a experienced travel planner, set out to find us an easier, shorter way.

We settled on the tour group, Marly Camino, and finally scheduled our Camino in May 2014.  Owned by two women in Madrid, we joined a tour with eight other people and enjoyed a wonderful Buen Camino Lite over two weeks.  We walked over 100 KM and earned our compostellas.

Back then, we reunited after 40 years to do this camino together.

This time, we’re taking our husbands.  We’re walking the Camino del Norte.  But we’re back with Marly Camino.  Yes, it costs us, but they provide us with the support four over-60s need.  We’ll stay in 3- to 4-star accommodations, enjoy transport between some of the Basque cities and towns with increasingly longer day hikes over 15 days while they move our luggage for us.  They provide us with breakfast, snacks, and dinners, and they provide us with knowledgable and capable “guides” who will provide us with history and lore that will enrich our experience.

Last week, I made our final payment to Marly.   I have a list of to-dos to finish up our preparations.  We’re talking about the weather, what to pack, what it’ll be like.  Two months to go!

Plans Are Now In Place!

Well, we finally have our travel plans made.

Because we’re using Delta SkyMiles for me and credit card reward points for Bob’s tickets, we had to first combine our points, which took several days for the Credit Union to do, and then make the arrangements.  Despite calling both the rewards folks and Delta, getting us on the same flights was not easy.  I booked my flight, no problem.  Booked Bob on the same flight getting to Madrid but then was offered only two options to come back – both taking over 35 hours!!  Both Customer Service numbers were very helpful and although we had to say one extra day to get home on the same flight, Delta helped us through it.

Today I booked our extra hotel rooms on both ends with MarlyCamino, our train from Madrid to San Sebastian, and our flight from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid.  I also started my notebook journal in one of the journals Wendy had made from our photos from our 2014 trip.

Espana, we are ready!

“You know, I’ve never been to Spain.”

On January 7, 2012 my 95 year old mother, Anna Venoie Olson Amey, died peacefully in her sleep.  She’d suffered from dementia for several years but had been in good spirits up to the end.

In February, Barbara Mickler, mother of my high school friend, Wendy Mickler Grindstaff, died.  She also lived her last years under the veil of dementia.  Her final years, however, were riddled with anger, mostly directed toward Wendy.

During their final years, Wendy and I kept in touch and commiserated over the declines in health that our mothers were living.  After having seen Emilio Esteves’s film, The Way, we joked about making the journey across Spain in pilgrimage.  Eventually, our jokes became real and we decided to make the trek.

We read.  We studied.  And thankfully, Wendy insisted that she didn’t want to “rough it” in albergnes (hostels) and cary a pack.  She eventually found a company that we engaged – Marly Camino.  We made plans and eventually embarked upon a 100 KM trek along the famous Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostella.

Bob and Ernie didn’t go.  They weren’t invited.  We didn’t want them.  It was to be our walk.  Our adventure.  Our pilgrimage.  Each of us wanted to do this alone, with support but without the comfort and familiarity of our husbands.

We had a wonderful time.  We celebrated Mother’s Day together during our trek, with our mothers in our hearts.  We were proud of our accomplishment.

*****

Whenever I spoke of Spain, Bob countered with, “You know, I’ve never been to Spain!”  So in 2017, it was time to get him behind the catchy song lyrics of Three Dog Night:

Well I never been to Spain
But I kinda like the music
Say the ladies are insane there
And they sure know how to use it
They don’t abuse it
Never gonna lose it
I can’t refuse it

Well I never been to England
But I kinda like the Beatles
Well, I headed for Las Vegas
Only made it out to Needles
Can you feel it
It must be real it
Feels so good
Oh, feels so good

Well I never been to heaven
But I been to Oklahoma
Well they tell me I was born there
But I really don’t remember
In Oklahoma, not Arizona
What does it matter
What does it matter

Well I never been to Spain
But I kinda like the music
Say the ladies are insane there
And they sure know how to use it
They don’t abuse it
Never gonna lose it
I can’t refuse it

Well I never been to heaven
But I been to Oklahoma
Well they tell me I was born there
But I really don’t remember
In Oklahoma, not Arizona
What does it matter
What does it matter

Most folks didn’t have any idea he was quoting song lyrics.

It was time to shut him up.  Wendy and Ernie were ready –  and so we started planning for another trip to Spain, this time with our husbands.

Marly Camino – May 15-27, 2018 – here we come!