Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

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One week in

It’s difficult to write about a pilgrimage. Every day you get up and walk.  That’s it. Nothing happens, and yet everything happens.  

The world slows down.  You see the flowers and the bees.  You hear the constant birdsong that happens in the Spanish countryside. The clouds sail by. You feel the warmth of the sun on your back. You hear the crunch of your boots on the gravel.

And the world slows down and opens up and presents itself to you with the possibility of finding your best self. You have the chance to give and receive kindness. You listen to stories and share your own. You have the opportunity for stillness.

It is a gift for which I am extremely grateful.

The Adventures Begin

Greetings from Burgos, a lovely city on the meseta, Spain’s high northern plain. 

Our adventures began before we even left home. By ‘we’ I mean me and Janice, my old college roommate who agreed to join me for the first two weeks of this trip to Spain.  We had wanted to start our walk in Logrono, but found that it was completo, totally full.  So we have a Burgos rest day even before we begin, then take the local bus back to Logrono, where we did find a room for tonight.

Speaking of buses, we had an adventure there, too.  We had bought our tickets ahead of time, with plenty of time allowed to get through customs and pick up our bags.  However, we didn’t allow enough time for Jan’s plane’s 2-hour flight delay.  The bus company clerk sent us to Madrid main bus terminal, where we got new tickets with credit given for our old ones.  Plus we met another pilgrim who had been on that plane and was also going to Burgos.  The small world of pereginos. 😀

Now we’re off for some cafe con leche.  Hasta pronto!

Photos from top: the Arco de Santa Maria; Burgos cathedral; the altar of Iglesia San Nicolas.

Today’s walk

Was another Manresa to Sunset excursion, and back again.

Each walk seems to have a theme, and today it was jellyfish.  This is one of the larger ones I encountered, shown with the nifty rock I found.  Does it count as exercise bonus points that I found said rock at the furthest point of my walk, and hauled it all the way back again?
I think it does.

Testing, testing….

Have I mentioned that I’m returning to Spain next month? I’ll be there for almost six weeks, walking on the Camino Frances for some of that time (the same route I walked in 2006), and spending the other part of that time serving as a volunteer hospitaliera at Monasterio San Anton, a pilgrim hostel built into the ruins of an abandoned monastery. I am very excited!

Right now I’m going through long ‘to do’ lists, one of which is set up my blog to let me post from my phone. Here it is: my first phone posting.

Let me share some images from the training walks I’ve been doing.

Last week I ambled along the coastal bluffs at Wilder Ranch State Park. It’s hard to see, but that’s a whale out in the bay. I saw three different pods swim by.
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Later on the fog cleared, letting the coast shine in all its glory.
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Later that week I took a long Beach Walk, from Manresa to Sunset and back again. A sign! I found two (mostly) intact scallop shells, which I took as a sign that yes, I should be going to Spain.
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Yesterday I took a nice loop hike in the backcountry at Wilder.
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Don’t worry — I’ll be spending minimal time on my devices. I plan on being totally in the present, not lost in the interwebs. But I know people back home like to see a picture or two, and have some idea of where I am.

Headshot/Mugshot

Headshot/Mugshot #1

My “Headshot/Mugshot” series is an exercise in presentation and perception.

There have been three sources of inspiration leading to this series. The first, social and mainstream media have focused lately on how young men of color are portrayed in the news. Who is represented with a mugshot? Who is represented with a headshot? Questions of racial and class privilege are raised.

The second, a paper presented at a neuro-aesthetics conference I attended suggested that we as humans are quicker to perceive difference than similarity when presented with a face that is morphed between two individuals. What makes somebody ‘different’?

The third is the Dadaist game of Exquisite Corpse, where different artists each draw different sections of a body and then combine them.

Headshot/Mugshot #2

For these portraits, I’ve deliberately made the backgrounds colors that are not in the spectrum of human skin tones. I’ve also deliberately homed in on the facial features, not giving any social or gender cues such as hair or clothing. And in some of the portraits, all of the features belong to the same person; in others, they are mixed up.

When you look at these portraits, do any of the faces look scary? Do any of them look friendly? Why do you think that is?

When you look at these portraits, do you try to assign any racial or ethnic identity to them? Why do you think that is?

When you look at these portraits, do you try to assign a gender identity? Why do you think that is?

Headshot/Mugshot #3

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