Home, home again it’s true

It’s official after 8 months and 12 days I am back in Canada! And I have to say I am rather excited. Conflicted, but excited. If anyone out there thinks traveling is easy think again, although I may not be the best person to ask (as the overly emotional being that I am) Cecilley could give you a better more practical answer about traveling as a whole.

But back to my current emotional state – I’m conflicted for many reasons, one being the idea of coming home. Way back when, when Cecilley and I set off to travel the world coming home early would have been a failure in my eyes. When I set out to do something, I want to do it. We set off to travel for a year, that was the goal. Hacking it out with only each other and our backpacks was the test. Do I have what it takes to make it 12 months abroad? I thought so, and I still think so, but now I’m trading my flexible schedule and freedom, my ability to chose my next home and destination based on where I currently am in the world and where I feel like going next, with a fixed work schedule, a fixed home, and sticking to one location. Why?! Why would anyone voluntarily give up this life of luxury?

Because I got a job.


A new someone to meet at home! And who is the bearded man... Dad?!

A new kitty to meet! And a real mountain man? Dad, is that you?!

Yes, a job. I know it sounds like a total cop out from the free living lifestyle of the average backpacker, but from the very beginning, Cecilley and I were not your average backpackers. Being slightly older than the average globetrotter (the compliments of being very mature for our age never got old), we also wanted to work and volunteer while we traveled  This wasn’t going to be a glorified vacation for the two of us, and we made sure that it wasn’t. Running a marathon and walking over 1000 kms over 50 days is straight up work if you ask me! We wanted new skills for the old resume and we got exactly that and more. So much more!

Traveling has taught me many things about myself and the world. The people I’ve met to the places I’ve been, I can look back and be very proud of my accomplishments. With a tentative “plan” in mind we weren’t committed to anything but each other. But (as travelling has taught me on a number of occasions) plans change whether you want them to or not. I am no longer in a place to think that not competing the year would have been a failure. I am no longer in a place to think I have to keep going because I’m in Europe and when will I ever be back?! I have no idea, but maybe that’s a good thing. Ending 4 months sooner then planned would have upset me earlier in our travels, but now it’s the right thing to do. I’m ready to go back and face all the things I left behind, I’m ready for my new challenge… living at home with my parents. Yup. After 10 years of living away from home and on my own, I am going back home. Is this karma biting me in the ass? Nah, I think I am ready for it. We shall see. I will however, be working and planning my next adventure, this should keep me busy. For a little while at least. I’ve been conflicted with the idea of home and not going back to Toronto, but when opportunities present themselves sometimes you have to let go of expectations and just go with it. But at the time it was scary to think I may not go back to my life in Toronto. I trust it will be there, waiting for me when I do go back.

But the job wasn’t the only reason. I no longer felt as though I was running away, I was no longer scared to go home, I wanted to see my family and friends, and wanted to look forward to working again. But before that, I wanted to enjoy what Cecilley and I did together. I found the answers I needed to be proud of our accomplishments, and I found the clarity to realize what we’ve been through. We saw the world! I know this adventure seems like it’s over, but really it’s only over for now. I know I will keep going and travel more, but I have time, joy, and balance to figure out what my next phase will look like. These were things I didn’t have before. That Camino, man, I tell ya, it’s something else. It really is.


Cats and chickens! It's almost like a zoo!

Cats, the new cat, chickens, and more chickens. It’s like a zoo!

When I left Toronto a lot had happen in my personal life, but it was travelling that really tested me in ways I needed. Leaving my familiar life behind, along with the few belongings I had left, getting on the plane to Bali, I was in over my head. Travelling took me down some pretty dark paths, but I feel as though I know myself better because of it. It has it’s way of dragging you so far down, but then brings you right back up. I saw what I needed to see and I did what I needed to do. And it’s totally okay it didn’t take me a full calendar year to figure it all out.

Keep walking on

Back on the road again. And again!

Back on the road again. And again!

Yup it’s true. Cecilley and I just can’t get enough of this walking thing. After three short days of relaxing and nothing planned for the next little while, we decided spending our extra time in Santiago could be much better spent than trying to find cheap transportation into Portugal. Being as close as we are we figured why not visit Portugal? That and having an open invitation to visit an albergue (that’s Spanish for hostel) on the Portuguese Way also helped.

So it’s off to Portugal we go! But getting there, that was the question? Our transportation search was falling short so we decided to get there the best way we knew how. Walking!

The Camino has routes all over Europe and one route actually takes you out of Santiago all the way through Portugal to the very south part of the country. It was like it was meant to be. So when I told you Cecilley was going to burn her sneakers at Finisterra I lied. And it’s a good thing too. She may have found it hard walking barefoot or in flip flops. Although after the blisters poor Cecilley faced, barefoot might be the better choice.

The last arrow at Finisterra. But not the last for us to follow!

The last arrow at Finisterra. But not the last for us to follow!

Once in Portugal we’ll let the route of The Way take us where it will. We will walk on to Porto, a city of influence on the Camino, and spend time in awe and reflection. Walking for 40 plus days, eventually we’ll need to stop somewhere. But it’s interesting now looking back at the beginning having our year of travel somewhat mapped out, the Camino really shook things up for both Cecilley and I in a way we did not see coming. I know for myself I needed clarity and answers to questions like “what the hell am I really doing?” having this pilgrimage come to a close I think I might now know the answer. Or at least I feel closer to finding it. I am in a better place to figure it out then I was before.

This chapter’s close was a much bigger close on many different levels. I have found proper completion with my grand voyage. The Camino has given me that sense of completion and I can return home happy knowing I have completed something from start to finish. After all this time, that’s what I needed? Go figure! I suppose that’s why they say “there are no coincidences on the Camino”.

It’s also been said, time and time again, “the Camino will give you what you need and not what you want”. Let me tell you how true it is.

So after all of that the next, next adventure will be?? It’s starting to look like Digby, Nova Scotia of all places.

Finisterra aka. The End of the World

Standing at the end of the world!!

I’m standing at the end of the world!!

Well, I can officially say I have now been to the end of the world and back. Literally. Cecilley and I walked the 4 extra days to Finisterra and stood at the world’s edge. The wind was blowing and the rainy days seemed to last forever each day we walked. But it didn’t stop us, this was our real test. Making it to Santiago was nothing compared to this, but our 36 days of walking prior kept us on track we were ready for anything now. When we arrived, that was a whole other rush of its own entirely. We cheers-ed to our achievement, as good pilgrims should, naturally.

This time around the walk was very different. There was a sense of lightness and less stress about it. We walked with ease knowing the grand part of our journey was behind us. Our walk to Santiago was the big achievement, but afterward we both felt lost and a bit empty. We were excited of course, but there was still an unsettled energy to the whole experience. It felt wrong to have our pilgrimage come to an abrupt end in Santiago (both emotionally and physically). After completing the trek to Finisterra I understand why pilgrims keep going. There needs to be an end to the end. You need closure from the journey, from the achievement, and from the act of walking each day, everyday. Or, if anything else, it’s fun to say you know what the end of the world looks like!

There are no more km to walk we made it to the end!

There are no more km to walk we made it to the end!

So now what? What’s next on the traveling agenda? What are Cecilley and I to do now that we have been to the end and lived to tell our tale? We caught a bus (yes, an actual bus, oh my moving transportation!) back to Santiago to relive the magical moments of Compostela we were too out-of-it to take in, or too teary eyed to see. Hanging around Santiago for a few extra days wouldn’t hurt anyone. So that’s exactly what we did. It’s finally time to take a break from walking and do some sightseeing. We’ll figure out the rest later.

Santiago de Compostela, I made it!

Cathedral de Compostela! I finally made it!!

36 days and 867km later I have arrived! Exhausted from the heat, the lack of greens in my diet, and the soreness in my aching bones (it was enough to make me break), but I have arrived! Cecilley and I started this journey on April 13, 2014 and now we can say we have done it. And what a feeling it was to march that last 5km into Santiago to the Catedral de Compostela. I walked with pride, saddness, and slight confussion. All of a sudden this epic pilgramage has come to an end. The one thing I’ve been thinking about for so long was standing there in front of me. I can honestly say there hasn’t been anything in my life that I’ve done (at this point) that can compare. This was beyond what I have ever could have imagined it to be. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster of a lifetime.

My adult Browie Camp and kind of Amazing Race (or as close to the Amazing Race as I am going to get) has come to a close, so now what? The people I have met over the past 36 days have changed me in a way I can’t explain. And I can’t express how gratful I am for each and everyone of them.

But after walking all this way what does one do? They walk to the end of the world that’s what! So Cecilley and I are walking another 4 days to Finisterra (aka. the end of the world) where we will jump in the ocean and burn our clothes! Well maybe not, but her shoes will not be coming back with us that I can promise you.

See you on the other side!

My Way to Saint James

One of our last sunsets in Montesquieu. Has nothing to do with my pilgrimage, it's just stunning!

One of our last sunsets in Montesquieu. Has nothing to do with my pilgrimage, it’s just stunning!

Now that a week has past since the marathon Cecilley and I have had a few days to unwind and think. More sight seeing in Paris lead to perfect evenings picnicking in a park, dinning over lunch in the coolest of places, then leaving the beautiful city to do the se time in our next favourite city Bordeaux. We’re now approaching our 6 month travelling anniversary – I know I can’t believe it either! – I’ve been mentally and physically all over the place looking back at the time that’s past. Bali was a huge wake up call, Tokyo made me cry it was so cool, London took my breath away, and Paris stole my heart. With each new stamp on my passport comes stories and experiences I’ll take with me to my grave. But each place also came with its own struggles, personal hurdles, and time to reflect. Which is exactly what I want and need at this half way point. I need a new challenge one of personal gratitude and self reflection. I need to find my way.

What else am I to do? What does one do now, now that her marathon is over, perhaps needs to shed some access weight because of her new French lifestyle, and then realizes how close Spain actually is to France? The answer came to me one night in the tiny village of Montique after a movie night at Little French Retreat. After watching the 2010 Emilio Estevez film The Way. She decides to take on the voyage many pilgrims before her have done. She walks. She walks El camino de Santiago.

The last supper in Bordeaux. Things I will miss on the trail!

The last supper in Bordeaux. Things I will miss on the trail!

April 12, 2014 will forever be the day Cecilley and I started our own historic pilgrimage. Trekking the scenic coast of Spain all the way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela we will stand before the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great himself. This grand journey should take us about month and a half. If all goes according to plan. Only time will tell, it’s a long road ahead. But one we’re both ready for!

And so, I bid you all adieu as it’s hard to say when I will have internet access again. I will give updates along my way when I can. But I will promise another full story in the end (another to add to the list!). It’s time to turn off distractions and dive into the world around me. Feet first and one step at a time.

Bon voyage!!