On the eve of my departure, here is what has gone into my backpack. The absolute minimum!!! And it's coming in just below 8 kg. Not too bad, she says hopefully. I'm heading for Biarritz, then two buses (the train is out due to track problems) to St Jean Pied de Port and a comfy wonderful refugio that provides dinner. I'll try to blog from time to time as I make my way across Spain - first the Pyrenees! - but I can't make any promises. I'm nervous and excited and thrilled and nervous. Into the unknown. Now must go stick the Canadian and Irish flags on.
Only two more days and I am off on pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James. It is also called the Road of Stars as they say it follows the Milky Way. Magical. I'm in the final stages of packing and testing my haversack. The last time I went travelling with a backpack, I was 18 years old, hitch-hiking around Canada and the western seaboard of America. It's been a long time!!! But I shall think of that adventurous young woman as I walk and I shall call on her spirit to keep my much older body going. I'm very excited and also nervous. As Bilbo says, it's a dangerous business going outside your door. You step onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to!
Here's the heather bed in Jampa Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre (www.jampaling.org) where I brought Humpty Dumptina (me) to put herself back together again. It was a great month. I laboured away each morning among the heather: building a rockery, planting new shrubs and plants, weeding, and removing the plastic and rocks that were blocking the older heather from spreading. Took tea and biscuit breaks with the other volunteers and staff (Buddhists Workers Union) and ate the most delicious vegetarian meals cooked by French chef Marie and second chef Zopa. Then I spent the afternoons finishing the script of The Hunter's Moon which I've been trying to finish all year. Done and dusted and already being read by producers! Of course I was also attending and leading the daily pujas/practices and meditations. Last but not least, had wonderful talks with Panchen Otrul Rinpoche, my teacher, and Ani-la, the wonderful nun who founded Jampa Ling. Thank you, my spiritual home!
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.