heading south


♥ i sit on ye olde faithful red couch in santiago, listening to music and recapping. situating myself. time to head off to madrid and then down to almeria to start the walk. i am more or less packed and there she is, my new best friend, over there in the corner, propped up against the wall. she is german. her name is deuter. she is sleek and black, and small. efficient. i need her to be small, not for my back -which is strong- but for my knees. my plan is for this little beauty to push me into some kind of frugal mind state, where i have to think about numbers of grams. at this point she weighs around 10 kg, which i suppose isn’t bad. strapped to her side are the black diamond walking poles that jenny has loaned me (thanks jen!). she looks pretty spiffy actually- like she means business.

organising this bag has also been a process of organising my head via the mundane task of using as much available information as i can withstand gathering to speculate the future, and then pack accordingly, whilst trying to ensure that as many things as possible have a double purpose. here, i have to be practical, realistic, organised ~which has always been a bit of a struggle, quite frankly. maybe this is one of the reasons that i like the idea of walking long distances so much. while the footsteps take me away from the mundane in many ways, i still have to engage with its’ shadow ~that is,  what is left when i don’t have to think about the structures around work, or any other ‘householder’ concerns. evidently, i would much rather be doing other things than packing this bag, but the fact is, no-one is going to sort out my shit for me. i have to be the one to decide what stays and what goes. there’s a grand metaphor in there.

these past few days have been taken up with grading assignments, hanging out with gerry and other friends, catching up with the lighthouse, and enjoying the freakishly warm weather. i swear, when the sun comes out santiago just comes to life. you want to be outside. but when it turns grey and cold, it becomes most depressing. i don’t think i have ever been anywhere where i have experienced that dramatic contrast so sharply. as galicia moves deeper and deeper into wintertime, the drizzly rainy days start to take things over- sometimes for weeks at a time. while people here steel themselves for the possibility that this might happen (last winter was apparently very mild though), i expect that things will be quite different down south. at least for the first part of my walk it will likely be sunny and not so cold. i hope that this will mean that by the time temperatures start dipping more, my body will have had two or so weeks to strengthen and i will be in the rhythm. i honestly can’t wait to get back there. where things are so very very simple.

back to the bag, sitting in the corner. she is provoking much thought- many seemingly trivial residual questions that still need to be resolved. do i take the iPad or do i take the macbook? is now the time for me to go ‘no poo’ and force my hair into kicking its’ expensive moroccan oil habit? should i take my white, well-worn sarong as an added layer of protection between my face and pillows that i know have previously supported the heads of countless drooling, coughing pilgrims? etc etc etc. it is funny, the ways these questions reveal dependence on different things- what is important? it is important to stay warm, dry, and moisturised. i could literally walk with only half of this stuff. i would become a bit of a smelly,  slightly flaky skinned and dreadlocked pilgrim, but it could be done. nah….. the bag reveals vanity~ but there is a part of vanity that is also the desire to pamper oneself somehow, treat oneself gently- enjoy little comforts. enjoying little comforts is indulgent, but it is also a way to feel gratitude for what you do have, for the luxury of being able to do such a thing in the first place. to even be alive.

i am in love with the idea that when i start walking in almeria, i (hopefully) won’t stop walking until i get back here, to santiago -home. it is comforting to know that i will be walking home. back across spain, towards something tangible, a life. i sit back on the couch and try to feel the future space, the one that will soon be inhabited by a new experience. it sits there, all juicy and empty, beckoning. i can try to imagine the many faces of this future, but it is rather like the shifting, shimmering clouds that i saw constantly being pushed across the sky along the meseta. it is hard to put my finger on anything because like the sky, the experience will change from moment to moment….


One thought

  1. Hi Cate
    Really enjoyed reading your comments via the links forwarded to us from Jen and would love to hear more of your adventures


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