check it out…la voz de galicia>


Yesterday, I picked Ella up from school and headed downtown to the CBC studios for an interview with Jo-Ann Roberts of All Points West.
What can I say about a ten year old who sits back on the couch in the broadcast studio, book in hand, while Jo-Ann is broadcasting to British Columbia, then puts on the headset, saddles up to the microphone and speaks ten times more eloquently than her writer mother ever could, answering each question of the interview without hesitation, then picks up her violin and plays Morrison’s jig up to the hour until the news feed comes in?!

To hear interview, click on highlighted words below!

As I said on the broadcast, Ella will certainly be setting the pace. All 750 kms of it!


  • May 3rd, 2008  7:30 – 9:00 pm
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Victoria BC
  • an evening of music, dance, spoken word with: Daniel Lapp, the BC Fiddle Orchestra, Alma de Espana Flamenco Troupe, introducing Gareth Owen, Quinn and Qristina, Nat Roberstson, Charles Tidler, Ken Farqaharson, and spoken word by: Anne Simpson; Tracy Hamon; Colin Will; Tom Bryan; Daniel Tysdal; SMSteele; Maureen Scott Harris; Isa Milman; Modesto Fraga Moure and Diane Douglas.
  • May 3rd, 2008
  • 7:30 – 9:00 pm  
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church   Victoria BC 
  • An evening of music, dance and spoken word with Daniel Lapp, the BC Fiddle Orchestra, Alma de Espana Dance Troupe, introducing Gareth Owen, flamenco guitarist, Quinn and Qristina, Charles Tidler, Nat Robertson, Ken Farquharson and spoken word by: Anne Simpson, Isa Milman, Daniel Tysdal, Maureen Scott Harris, Modesto Fraga Moure, Colin Will, Tom Bryan, SMSteele, Diane Douglas and Tracy Hamon. 
  • tickets: Victoria Hospitals Foundation or leave a message and contact # here 

Jose Maria from Taberna Ultreia (see sidebar), sent me this article this morning… I don’t read Galician, but I can make most of it out… really nice…  it talks about our visit to Finisterre, the end of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and about our upcoming event, Pilgrimage, May 3, 2008, and how the people of Finisterre are going to send messages, images and a poet will write something and send it for the event.

The 90 minute event, Pilgrimage, an evening of music, dance, spoken word and images from the camino, will be held May 3rd, 2008 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. To date we have lined up, Daniel Lapp, the BC Fiddle Orchestra, Alma de Espana flamenco troupe, several poets from across the country and Spain, and we are just starting… we are hoping that Oliver Schroer will contribute something via video or email… he is just one of the people we dedicated our journey to, and he is the reason Ella brought her violin. This will be our final celebration of our Trek to Santiago de Compostela for the VGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Our goal is $30,000, and we are hoping to top it that evening.Please send a message through this site if interested in attending or contact the Victoria Hospitals Foundation for information on tickets.

Early May 2008, the final event for the NICU will be held.  A ninety minute program, titled Pilgrimage, will take the audience on a short pilgrimage through live music, dance, spoken word and projected images. Location, date, time… T.B.A. keep posted or leave a message if you want to have more info 

Sometimes I have wondered what walking the ancient road has been for me other than an obviously pleasant, challenging meander out of daily life.  Then today I receive a phone call from the Victoria Hospitals Foundation telling me that an anonymous donor has just given an amazingly generous donation to the NICU ventilator fund… and I then I understand that it wasn’t for me, has never been for me…. I was just the physical body taking step after step, laughing, crying, aching, despairing, hoping etc… it was really those critically ill newborns and their families who want them so very much, who were actually making the pilgrimage. and for that I give great thanks and courage for the pilgrimage to continue… we have enough for one positive-flow ventilator for  tiny ones  and we’re going for TWO as promised!  wish us luck… 

There’s a review in this weekend’s Globe and Mail of a book by some woman named Jane Christmas who walked the camino with 14 other women and is now inflicting her experience on the reading public. Judging from the review, Jane’s experience wasn’t quite what she expected – and I think the operative is “expected”.

Apparently the author heard of a big hike across northern Spain from a WestJet flight attendant, which in itself is worrying, and decided to walk it as a “50th birthday present… something spiritual, challenging, unstructured, nomadic, something that would quieten the mind, give me a little quality time with God, and let my gypsy spirit out for a run”. Yikes. Just reading that excerpt makes me never want to even borrow the book from a library never mind buy the thing… and why?

Let me quote a certain 11 (!) year old: “You can’t organize the camino, it organizes you.”

There’s something distinctly consumer about this woman’s reasons for walking the pilgrimage – and contradictory… that she would want something spiritual and challenging, yet unstructured, gypsy etc… she wants “quality time with God” as if that’s something one can buy a ticket for… it all seems so controlling and demanding.

One of the things my brother wrote to me while we were walking the route, was that “everyone and their dog seems to be doing the Camino… what is it, the latest fad?” and the truth is that sadly, the camino has become something like that. I’d have to say that one of my greatest reservations about making our pilgrimage, which was planned for 10 years and spoken of for 25 years (since studying music at UBC and singing Compostela music), was that people like Shirley MacLean, Paul Coehelo and others, have popularized the Camino, and made it attractive to the kinds of people who make “life lists” of places they must see and things they must do before they die (and typically these are white, middle-class people). We met hundreds of these types of people who were obsessed with finding something and were quite frankly, difficult fellow travellers.

One of the least attractive aspects of the spiritual consumer, was the desperation with which they attacked each day – inevitably, these were the early risers. These were the exhausted types who elbowed our little ten year old out of the way as she lined up to get into an alberge to find a bed. They stepped on her as she waited for a shower. They turned lights on and spoke loudly while she was trying to have her afternoon rest. They told her she shouldn’t be in the kitchen cooking unsupervised… and so on. These consumer travellers were the ones that in the end, drove us from alberges… we could cope with minimal amenities – what we couldn’t cope with any more was rudeness, selfishness, and mean spiritedness… all I believe were a result of disappointment and fatigue.

So maybe this Jane Christmas woman is doing the Camino a favour by writing a book that complains about the experience. Maybe more women (and men) like her will stay home.

you know, we haven’t a clue…

Ella’s pedometer died after day three, and the guidebooks vary in distances significantly – some cite 900 kms, others 750kms, still others factor in elevations and adjust distances. At the height of the Pyrenees we passed a marker that said 769 kms which came as a total shock to us as we thought we were going to walk 750kms!

Then at the bottom of the Pyrenees, after 27 kms (or 25 or ??? depending on which book) of walking up and down in wind, fog, rain, hot sun, we passed a sign that said Santiago 790kms. We couldn’t believe it. How could we have walked so far – in the right direction I might add – and not be closer to Santiago. What’s with that?

Eventually we got used to contrary signage and contrary information. I clearly remember “cracking” the 300 km mark, as stated on a handpainted sign which included the pilgrim encouragement, “Ultreia”, only to arrive at our destination that day and read another sign that said Santiago – 329 kms…I almost cried.

Even on our last day, an easy 20 kms into the city of Santiago, we met a Swiss friend who told us that his guide book says all the signpost distances were incorrect and that in fact we had to hike 29 kms to the city centre!!! (His book is a German publication that some German and English pilgrims knicknamed “the Fuerer”, as in, “where does the Fuerer say we have to go today” or, “what does the Fuerer say about this alberge”)

So when we factor in variable distances, then the unclocked distances walked in search of alberges, provisions, retracing routes, detours to tourist sights etc. etc., and taking into account the two taxis we took when horrendously ill, I’ve come up with 850 kms and I’m sticking with it! The truth is, no matter how many kilometers we hiked….

it was a very, very long way!!

p.s. yesterday, I hiked 17 kms just to blow the cobwebs out. No pack, cool but sunny weather, fresh etc… I was exhausted when I got home. Amazed too that we actually did that and more, once, twice the distance, day after day after day. Such is the camino.