Sitting at the airport 

I’m so freaking tired and hungover.  I’m in a daze.  A dazzled lame state of exhaustion.

Yesterday I was right.  Janett wanted to go out.  As soon as I arrived at her hotel, she was waiting.  Before noon.

We met up with Egon and Stefan, two fellow pilgrims.  We ate lunch and stopped for souvenirs, meandering around.  

By the end of the night we were all shitfaced and dancing to Spanish dance music.  Before I knew it, it was 2am, then it was 3am.  I told Janett I was going back to the hotel but she didn’t want me to go and just kept on dancing.

Finally, we left the bar.  As we exited, there was a long line of finely dressed Spaniards waiting to get in.  The place was hopping.  It was jam packed in there.

I was wearing my usual pilgrims attire of super baggy camo pants held up with a belt, and my wrinkled flannel shirt.  My hair was a mess.  I danced like I was alone in my room in front of my bedroom mirror.  I danced until I couldn’t stand up straight and knew it was time for me to leave.

It was a wonderful last day.  We walked back to the hotel, talked a bit before bed and passed out.

Janet wants to move to the US but it’s a hard place to get into.  You either have to marry someone or win the green card lottery.

I met an older Canadian woman who told me her friends drive down to Florida for the winter every year but this year they were stopped by border patrol and asked what they thought about Trump.

They were refused admittance because they voiced their concerns about him and when they tried again at a different check point, they were already flagged in the system and turned away.  They are banned for a year because they said they didn’t like Trump.

I’m so tired.  We went to sleep at like, 5.  My flight is boarding soon.  I can’t wait for home.  There’s no place like home.

Whenever I fly into JFK after visiting a non-English speaking country, JFK feels like home.  The whole airport feels like my backyard.  Quaint and home-like.  Which is nuts because it’s freaking JFK.  A dirty busy hub of noise and shoves.  

From JFK, I still have another 90 minutes of driving to my house.  I hired a personal driver to pick me up.  It’s really not that expensive.

Home home home home home home home

What’s going on?  Why aren’t we boarding?  And what’s stuck on the bottom of my shoe?

**********

I’m now home.  It’s the next day.  I slept for a very long time, maybe 10 or 12 hours, I don’t know.  I’m laying in bed and it feels soooo good.  I have to buy my plane ticket to Peru and stop by Work and unpack my stinky backpack.  My parents got me a $20 gift certificate to the new hibachi place that just opened up across the street and I want to try it.  There’s much to do.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 35,36,and 37

Day 35 we woke up late per usual on Hana’s schedule.  I stopped caring how late we wake up due to Santiago being in arms reach.  We started our walk at 1pm.  1PM!  That’s unheard of in pilgrim speak.

And we walked, and walked, and walked.  And we didn’t stop walking until 40 kilometers later when it was midnight and we were both freezing and damp.

It was mostly woods.  Pitch black, with nobody in sight.  We sang and played music on our phones.  We laughed nearly the whole way.  Until the beer metabolized in my system and I ran out of water, all bars and hotels were closed….that’s when I started a slow decline into panic mode.  I would see movement in my peripherals and freak out.  Exhaustion and dehydration started to kick in.

We had to venture off the Camino path and stay at an airport hotel.  The bartender kept giving us shots of baileys on the house.  I was so drunk I nearly puked and I fell asleep dead tired and sick at the foot of my bed where Hana laid with me and brushed the hair off of my face.

The next day I got my period and walked the last of the Camino into Santiago.  Crashing waves of nausea crippling me with every painful step.  It was supposed to be only 10 remaining kilometers but I’m sure it was more.  It HAD to be more.

Hana wants me to come live with her and she’ll act as my housewife.  She actually used the term “housewife.”

“I’ll cook for you, clean for you….just stay.  You don’t have to do anything.  I’ll take care of you.”

Me- “I’ll lay around all day and play video games.  By the end of day 3 you’ll be cursing at me in Korean telling me to get the fuck out.”

Her – “okay, I understand.  I’ll change the subject.”

This whole trip feels like a dream.  A horrible wonderful dream.  Even the landscapes and the people are characters and scenery taken from a storybook.  

When I catch a moment of me time, I start to wonder if this is really happening.  Are these experiences really mine?  Or am I glimpsing into somebody else’s life?  And why me?  What makes me so lucky?

I feel like Forest Gump.  I’m doing my own thing, but life manifests into a whole other monster.  A monster not everyone gets the chance to pet and tame.

It’s crazy how two people, insanely different from one another living on opposite sides of the globe can fit so well together.  Spending each moment together, complete strangers in a strange land of jamon, tortillas and bocadillo’s with little else to choose from.  Staying in cheap hostels where we meet intersting people, also strangers in a strange land whom we run into time and time again.

It’s just all so supernatural and surreal.  It’s lovely and weird.

Hana just left.  She’s on her way to Morocco for a desert tour.  She was upset when I refused to go.  There’s just no way.  I have to make a pit stop home for a brush of thanksgiving feast and family time before meeting again.

I have to leave this hotel in 3 hours.  It’s fully booked for today and they need the room.  I’m spending my last night in Santiago staying with Janett, a Swiss girl I met a few days ago.  She’s letting me crash at her hotel.  

This has been by far the most magical, magnificent year of my life.  I don’t get it.  Why now?  This is exactly what I worked so hard for and it’s actually happening, but now that it’s here it’s like, shit man.  You know?  Holy fucking shit, I arrived.  And not just in Santiago but some place else.  I can’t explain.

Yune, another Korean pilgrim we met along the way, cried all day yesterday because he didn’t want it to end.  He used the word “jeong” which doesn’t translate well into English.

Me – “Is that like being sentimental?”

Him – “Yes, it’s like that.”

But I could tell it meant more so when me and Hana got back to our room, the quiet hours before bedtime, I asked her again what exactly jeong meant.  And she described in-depth.

It’s like thankfulness, when strangers help you.  It’s like love, but not love.  It’s compassion, the guilt you feel if you do or don’t do/say something…it’s community.

There’s no simple definition of it, it’s a feeling that can’t be translated into words.  It’s an emotion.

Me – “I think I feel jeong all the time but there was never a word for it.”

It’s not just love I feel, not just sentimentality or attachment.  It’s jeong.  Jeong describes the Camino and basically describes me.  After all these years, I can finally put a word to it and pin it down.

I guess I should shower and pack my belongings.  Janett’s hotel is literally right next to mine and all I want to do is sleep and dream and be alone and bask in the weirdness of this trip but I have a feeling she’ll want to head out as soon as I get there and drink some cervesa and have some lunch.

I love my life.  I love (jeong) these new friends.  I’m so freaking lucky man.

I hate the Camino but goddamned I’ll probably do it all again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 34

Only two more days.  Two!  One and then a two.  Dos as the Spanish say.

I’m freezing.  My bra and shirt are soaked through and I’m shivering under a blanket in a private room in some small village.

I’m waiting for Hana to be done with her shower so I can get out of these wet clothes.

I’m in a pickle.  I’ve been counting down the days until I’m home again since day one.  Since before day one actually.  But Hana wants the trip to continue.  She wants to see Machu Picchu with me.

Machu Picchu is on my bucket list and if I don’t see it now, I may never get another chance.  I thought it over for at least a week and decided two days ago that yeah, sure.  I’ll go.

I’m flying home and will be there for about two days before flying off again to Peru to meet Hana at a hotel before meeting the tour group that will take us up the mountain.  The whole excursion will set me back 2 grand.

Shit fuck shit what did I agree to?  Why Melanie, why?!  My office manager will kill me if my mom doesn’t do it first.

My reasoning is that it’s only for a week.  Okay, maybe 9 days at most.  9 days can’t break the bank, right?

We are so close to Santiago.  46 kilometers.  I want to walk the rest of it tomorrow if the fates allow.  I’m so tired, I’m so everything you name it.  I just picked a whole bunch of dead skin off my feet from wanna-be blisters.

It’s so cold in this room.  I’m ready for home.  Home now please.  Home home home.

Machu Picchu…why Mel, why?  Seriously?  God damn it girl.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 33

I’m trying really hard to post everyday but it gets confusing.  Have I posted today yet?  Shit, I don’t know.

Today we reunited with fellow pilgrims we haven’t seen in a while.  Egon, Stephen, and Robert.  And we met a new girl, Janette from Germany.  And we all ate dinner together.  It was Camino magic.

Last night we had to deal with John.  An American boy.  Who is my age but still a boy.  A pathological liar.  I’ll have to write a separate post about him when I get home.  He’s nuts but we ran into him again today and somehow ended up eating dinner at the same restaurant.  Goddammed John.

He’s the same guy who fixed my leaking water bottle weeks back but I refused to walk with him.  I got one of my vibes straight off the bat.  I thought it was me being my antisocial self but no, it was my spidy-sense acting up.  I knew not to walk with him.  The guy is nuts.  

It was a good walk today.  Hana and I are still going strong.  It’s the honeymoon phase of our friendship.  The time when we’re inseparable like pre-teens.  You know how it felt back in the day when you found “that” friend.

It’s funny how everyone points it out to us too.  We’re starting to hear the same stuff over and over again.  

“You guys are still walking together?”

“What are you, like best friends or something?”

“What!? You met each other here!?”

Then we show our friendship bracelets to confirm their questions.  We hold our wrists up high and cross them like superstars.

Honestly, I don’t know how many people pointed it out.  There were lots.  We feel special.

Hana said it’s hard finding real friends these days.  Hard finding friends like me.  Especially in our age group.

I’m so freaking lucky.  This has been an awesome trip!  An amazingly awesome experience and if you read my blog, you know I’m not just talking shit.  Trying to hype everything up to make me or my life sound amazing.  You know I’m not about that.  If anything, I downplay it hardcore.

But damn…. fucking awesome.  The whole thing head to toe.  I’m one fucking lucky asshole is what it is.

The next two days will be hard.  Me with my knee and Hana with her feet.  We’ll have to walk 60km within the next 48 hours.

But then…..oh god but then….bliss!  Bliss to the max!  The last day is cake.  Easy peasey. 

I fucking love Hana.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 32 Portomartin

The German man who shared our room last night is so good looking that I couldn’t look directly at him without staring.   

He was wearing nothing but his underwear and my eyes, without permission, darted at them as he scratched at his junk through the thin fabric.  I was trying to concentrate on rolling up my sleeping bag but his balls were very distracting.  

I’m not a pervert.  Not in the least bit but today I feel like one.

I found a bottle of electronic cigarette fluid at a lost and found inside an albergue and started vaping it.  It’s from the UK and not what I’m used to.

Last night I sat on the balcony vaping and started coughing so hard that I threw up in my mouth a little.  I can’t remember ever doing that before.  Not in my life.  It wasn’t even one of those gross dry-heaving kinds of coughs.  It was a simple cough served with a side dish of vomit.  No dry heave, just straight up “holy shit there’s puke in my mouth.”  I spit it out over the side.

I have to switch to regular cigarettes until I’m home again. 

I’m at Portomarín.  One of my favorite places on the Camino.  Unfortunately it’s shitty out.  I’m about to take a shower and chillax to the max.  

My knee started hurting again today.  We’re so close to the end now that I’m not worried about it.  Only 93km left to go.  Hana is sad about it but I’m pretty fucking relieved to be honest.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 31:  Hangover

I feel like shit.  We drank so freaking much yesterday.  The bartender hooked us up with drinks all night.

We gotta walk.

************

We are now in Saria at an albergue sharing a room with a very handsome German man. I’m outside on the balcony overlooking the town.  

I smell a campfire, or someone’s chimney.

I’m sick of inspirational Facebook posts.  Whenever there’s nothing to do (which happens a lot), I go on Facebook for entertainment.  I’m getting so annoyed with it.  Why’s everyone so into changing themselves?  Blah blah, me me….

Fuck it’s cold out.  I’m going in to watch Netflix.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 30.  5 more days

I apparently didn’t plan my pants very well.  I bought a pair of black and grey camo pants from Cabellas on the Clarence rack for 8 USD.  A steal, right?

Yeah well, they’re soaking wet in the Galicia region.  We’re up in high altitude, it’s raining, damp, cold, foggy.  All things that make me wanna pee,  kind of weather.  And with soaking wet camo pants bought for $8 on clearance, I kind of just want to pee in them.

“Just let it go man.  Just let it go.”

~Dumb and Dumber.

We are waiting for a taxi.  We are princesses.  All other pilgrims are huddled by the fire trying to escape the suffering they signed up for.  Hana and I are actually escaping.  No try, only do.

We’re at a bar.  

Both of us don’t want to walk anymore in this weather especially since it’s a steep downhill.  Hell no thank you very much.

**********

We are now in Somos.  A quaint little village.  They’re all quaint, really.  Compared to home.

Hana is taking a nap.  She never takes naps.  I walked around town, taken a picture of the church and came back here to our hostel.  It has a bar downstairs.  We played chess with one of the locals earlier.  The bartender hooked us up with free drinks.

I make fun of Hana.  Every two minutes she asks the bartender for something and then tries to say “por favor”, only, she can’t say por favor.  She says “por pabor.”  

I imitate her in her sweet voice asking “Exuse me senior?  Por pabor? Senior?”

Oh god I love beer.  Words can’t explain.  I can drink my fill and still have energy to walk 15 miles the next day.  I drink a pint for lunch and I feel amazing after.  Goddammed beer.  Goddammed genetics is what it is.  My DNA needs it.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  It’s goddammed genetics.

It’s the weather that sets me back.  The cold damp weather.  Basically it’s rain mostly that I can’t stomach.  Because of my $8 pants.  No amount of beer can make me enjoy walking in cold wet weather with sopping wet pants.

I miss Hana when she’s sleeping.  Usually it’s the other way around.  We arrived here so early and she drank too much.  She told me the worst thing she ever done was make all her friends hate a girl she really liked because she wanted her all to herself.  

I guess this is a normal thing girls do.  I never did it personally because I want everyone to like who I like.  It makes life easier when everyone gets along with everyone else.  Especially when I like the person.  But that’s also one of the things that makes me naive.  I have no clue what’s going on half the time.   I love everybody, end of story.  I’m pretty boring and girls hate boring.

I want Hana to wake up.  She made me fully dependent on her and I think she planned for this to happen.   Her plan worked.  I want her here right now.  We’re never apart this long. 

Goddammed psychology.  I don’t get it.  Wake up Hana!  Damn you.  I’m always content with myself, always.  But now I got to deal with shit like this.  

I’m such a sucker, really.  A fucking sucker. My emotional maturity is at sub zero.

I just asked the bartender for another beer. It’s only 7pm and she might be in for the night.  The girl can sleep.  She’s exactly like me in all ways except add an extra 20% and that’s Hana.  20% worse than I am.  Now that’s pretty bad.  

I’m clean, but she’s 20% cleaner. I’m hungry, but she can eat 20% more food.  I’m generous but she spends more.

Hana is everything I am plus 20%.

I need to stop writing about her.  

I need to prepare for my life without Hana. It’s happening soon.

Why won’t she wake up?

I wanted a nap for the longest time, it should be me sleeping right now.  But I’m awake.  There’s no darts or pool to play.  Just me and my phone and about 7 Spanish speaking people.

The bartender told me that I need to turn the heat on “counter-clockwise”.  Hana is freezing upstairs.  I should go turn it on.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 29

I feel so much better!  I went to sleep at 9:30 and woke up at 8:30.  I feel amazing today.  No more crabbiness.  Poof, gone.  Just like that.

But that’s not the case for poor Hana.  My snoring kept her awake all night.  That’s why she has trouble getting up in the morning.

I didn’t always snore.  It just started happening within the last 4years or so.  I tried sleeping on my side but the bed digs into my hip and shoulder, I wake up in pain every hour.  Last night I said fuck it and slept however I wanted and it resulted in no sleep for Hana.

I feel guilty for feeling so good.

She’s finishing up getting ready.  I’m sitting outside vaping, about to go in for breakfast.  Our bags are all ready to be picked up by jacotrans.  It’s a good morning for me.  These are rare.

*******

We are sleeping side by side at a municipal albergue.  We had a few beers at the one bar in town and chatted up a fellow Korean and an Italian guy.  They’re traveling together just like me and Hana.

Today was O Cebreiro.  My favorite place and favorite hike on all the Camino.  Unfortunately it was cloudy today so we couldn’t see shit.  We were walking in a mist the whole way.  A weird surreal feel to it.  And it was freaking cold.  I had to buy a stupid Camino sweatshirt at a gift shop in O Cebreiro.  I’m wearing it now.  Super comfy.

We had to hike in the pitch dark tonight.  No stars or mooon.  Just blackness and the occasional barking dog charging after us.  It was pretty scary.  So damn cloudy.  The police wouldn’t even help us.

Okay, I should sleep.  My phone might be keeping people awake.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 28 

I’m crabby today.  Just really exhausted.  I need a REALLY good nights sleep to feel like myself again.  I’m glad we’re staying in a private room at least.  

I want alone time is what it is.  I want to soak in a tub and then sleep. Most of all I want my bed, to hug my dog, watch Netflix and play Skyrim online.  It really doesn’t take much to make me happy, honestly.  Maybe some sushi take out, or I’ll try that new Vietnamese place that opened up.

It’s day 26 in my guide book.  Tomorrow is the long hike up to O Cebreiro.  The prettiest walk on all the Camino.

I’m so tired.  I at least have my audiobook.  As soon as I put my headphones on, I’m transported to a new place.  A secret place.  I have bedtime headphones with built in night shades that block out all light.  It’s pretty much my only private time.  I do love it but I fall asleep within minutes without having time to actually enjoy any of it.

Hana is organizing her shit.  I’m laying here playing on my phone.  It’s only 8:30pm but I want it to be lights out.  I’ll read a bit of the sci-Fy mag that I brought.  I still didn’t get through the first story.

Oh god I dont want to walk anymore.  Oh good lord.  God no more walk.  Shit.

First 2 hours of the walk is the hardest.  Once I get through the first 2 hours, I’m golden.  Hana promised to wake up at 8:30 and if she doesn’t, I’m using my rape whistle.

She just laughs at it but I’m serious.  She’s going to hate me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 27

Holy shit it’s day 27!

I can’t believe it’s almost the end.  I can’t freaking believe it!!  According to my guide book, we are still on the 25th stage.  There are 33 stages in all.  So yeah, end time.  This is the end game.

The second half of today’s walk was beautiful.  The Galicia region is my favorite part of the Camino.  Better food, better views.

We’re staying in Cacabelos.  I believe I stayed in this town 4 years ago.  

Hana is making me wash my (Kristina’s) sleeping bag.  I told her that Kristina’s cousin, Mathew, was the last to use it and who knows when it was washed last.  That really disgusted her.  

**********

I absolutely love Hana to pieces.  To freaking pieces!  Both of us are dreading the goodbye.  Goddammit.  Why am I like this?  Why’s it so hard for me?  It’s going to be a very hard goodbye.

She’s coming in April to visit which means I have to have my downstairs spotless.  If you seen my downstairs, it’s like cleaning the attic of a deceased person.  Spiders everywhere, mold, dust, gross stuff…dead stuff.

I want her visit to be perfect.  I want to plan right now!  To clean right now!  My parents would adore her.  Both of them, but my father especially.  He loves Asians for some reason.

I should go inside to the bar.  We’re sharing a room with 2 men.  Hana thought we’d have the place to ourselves but 2 guys ain’t so bad.

I’m going to write her a Camino song to sing 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized