Exploring later life

   Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Saturday, 17 May, 2013

We are a Canadian couple, Bob and Jane, in our mid-seventies, married since 1959, sweethearts since 1952, both born and raised in Vancouver, planning an extended exploration of our near future.

The idea is to start by walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostella in Northern Spain, next spring, 2014. So the posts for the next few months will be about our preparation for the 'event'. And perhaps some of our own history so you get to know us a little.

Called simply, The Way, it is the Way of St. James, as traveled from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago, Spain. Neither of us are Catholic but we'll consider it a spiritual journey anyway. Usually it takes a younger person about 32 days to complete the 800km (500mi) trek. We are expecting to stay an extra day in decent hotels in the larger towns along the route for better R&R and to sample the culture a little closer, hopefully still making it in about 40 days. 
There are many websites available to research any potential Camino walk and much help available, so yes, explore them from the comfort of your home and perhaps you'll get hooked too.

But the Camino will only be the start of our intrepid travels. We hope to have our own car to travel in Europe after the trek, and to experience whatever adventures appear and welcome whatever opportunities present themselves. We are particularly interested in food and wines. Jane is a gourmet capable cook and often originates her own recipes.

We are currently in good health and will begin to do some training for the walk and to get our conditioning in better shape. 
However we are not without health considerations, we have both had heart attacks in the last decade and have stents implanted, and pills to control blood pressure, cholesterol etc. 

We have been to Europe before and spent some time in Spain while putting 50,000 miles on our BMW then. With two children! Now we are going as a free and wayward couple, avaricious in our septuagenarian desires. Longing to be peregrinos.

Years ago, we bought a BMW Bavaria for European delivery, and went to Munich, Germany to get it. Then drove in Europe as far north as Kronoby, Finland on he edge of the Arctic Circle, and into North Africa at Tangier. A few car companies still do it, Volvo being one. You collect your car at the factory and they arrange everything for you, including insurance etc. Your car must be exported, (eventually) we were able to renew our insurance, enabling us to stay for over the full year in Europe. (eventually visiting 36 countries in the around-the-world trip)

We are hoping when we arrive in Santiago, Spain, after the Camino, to be able to move on from there in our own car, to explore the north of Spain, the wonderful coastline of Green Spain as it is called. Having lived on the Costa del Sol for a short time years ago, we know a little about the Spanish people and that they are generous and lovely to travelers in their country, so we have no apprehensions about walking 500 miles through their countryside. (The walk goes right through the Rioja wine region!)

So for the next few months, we anticipate implementing a plan to rid ourselves of as much baggage as possible; furniture and other stuff, some of it junk, accumulated after a lifetime together, one of us, (me) being a sort of pack-rat. We have a large storage locker in the basement of our apartment crammed full with tools, boxes of books, junk, writings, broken chairs and keepsakes and will sell off everything we can. Of course some of the prized relics of our personal history will go into storage while we are away. And hopefully it will be the two of us, who sort through it again some years from now and not our children.

It's not easy to part with the flotsam of a congested life, but we need to make the jetsam float away and say goodbye. 

(to be continued)  

Monday, 27 May 2013

Camino Adventure

Peregrinos getting there

We're not sure what will happen on such a long physical travel. Walking every day through beautiful countryside. Will it be grueling or exhilarating? Boring or fun? I have heard people recover health on the Camino, get stronger every day. At 75 years old? Sure, why not? I believe it is going to be an inner revelation, a discovery of our own souls. A resuscitation of spirit? 
If we stumble into Galacia and fall down in the square before the Romanesque cathedral of Santiago de Compostella and have to be shipped back to Canada for last rites, will it be with chagrin? No, it'll be in triumph. We'll be worn but not worn out, and we'll proudly be peregrinos

But that's not the plan. The plan is to go to a mass in that magnificent cathedral and pay a little respect to St. James, the Patron Saint of Knights and laborers. No conflict, I'll be both.



Tuesday, 28 May, 2013

Meanwhile, the list of things to do is overwhelming .... the 'getting rid of' file is daunting. I am afraid to open that locker door for fear of a cave-in! And I'd have to fix that chair in order to sell it for anything. But it's been there for four years now. This is gonna be a whole lot of crying.

And the learning curve of what to wear is endless, shoes, backpack, what goes in it, etc. That is heavy research. You get old and don't trust anyone. Is he selling me the costly one or the right one? What does he mean the rails could dig into my hips? I can't stop overnight in Pamplona for a replacement hip! What if the bulls are running that week? Is there somewhere I can get ribs too? See how hard this is getting?

And physical training. We used to walk the Stanley Park seawall on a Sunday, 6 miles around, but that was when we were young and had legs and stamina at 50! We couldn't do it today without snacks at 1 mile, lunch at 2 miles and a Happy Hour drink at whenever a park bench was open! Not sure we could pack a bottle of malt scotch and vodka any more. 
We have slipped into lethargy here and pushed back happy hour to 3 pm and then sleep through the 6 o'clock news! 
I think we need a trainer but those fit trainer guys don't take old people jobs, that's Nurse Ratched therapy not handsome muscle-guy fitness! And we'd dribble on the treadmill and not be able to hang on! 

Never mind, one has to start somewhere. There will be a 'way'.