Fog City Boy #1

Fog City Boy on the Camino Portugués

San Francisco, California – March 18, 2014

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will return to it follow my progress on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Portugués)!

I depart San Francisco on Friday, March 28th. I will fly to London and then on to Lisbon. The total travel time will be about 34 hours. I have a room reserved in a small pension in Lisbon, near the river and in the historic district. I will spend three nights and two days there, recovering from jet lag (aka transmeridian travel). And then on March 32nd (I have been cautioned not to tell people I am starting a 400 mile hike on April 1st), I’ll be off.

The Camino is a pilgrimage that many thousands of people from all over the world have made. There are many routes with waymarkers in stone, or simply painted yellow arrows, starting in different locations, but all ending in exactly the same place: The plaza in front of the Cathedral de Santiago in Santiago, Spain.

Most peregrinos (pilgrims) walk the Camino Francés, usually starting in St. Jean Pied de Port in southwest France, as did our daughter, Elizabeth, in May, 2010. That route is 500 miles. She did it in 35 days. I am planning to do my 400 mile pilgrimage in 45 days, more or less. (Elizabeth is somewhat younger than I.) I will stay in the albergues (pilgrim hostels) where they are available and in inexpensive lodging when not. I’m packing two changes of clothes (one on my back, the other in the pack), three sets of underwear, four pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes (one to walk in and one to walk about in after arriving at the day’s destination) and assorted other impedimenta – all of which will be useful, but all of which weigh something. I will do my laundry nightly in a sink wherever I am staying – usually washing with shampoo. It will dry overnight. My pack and contents will weigh no more than 17 pounds – 10 percent of my body weight.

Peregrinos undertake the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) for differing reasons. Many do so for religious reasons. The Camino de Santiago is often thought to be the most important pilgrimage in the Roman Catholic communion. Others undertake it for other spiritual reasons. And many do it for the sightseeing it offers.

My motivations are a mixture of the latter two reasons. I enjoyed riding my motorcycle through Spain and Portugal some 48 years ago and wanted to go back and see more of those countries again. But there are other reasons, reasons that are related to an athletic, physical, and spiritual journey I have experienced over the last seven plus years. Without too much elaboration, suffice it to say that upon returning to my native San Francisco from Washington, D.C. in 2004, I discovered that I had gained an uncomfortable number of pounds and I decided to do something about it. I got into a program that was quite holistic, involving strenuous but enjoyable exercise based on an athletic training model, combined with nutritional counseling and behavior modification counseling.

I am pleased to report that in 11 months I lost over 10 percent of my bodyweight (net of increased musculature) and have kept it off. But there is another aspect to the program as I and others experienced it. There was a philosophical element, indeed a spiritual element, with which our trainer imbued us. And that spiritual element will be an important part of my Camino.

Our trainer’s name was Jim. He’s not with us here on earth now. But there is good reason to believe that he is in heaven – training the angels and the cherubs to ride celestial double centuries and row 2Ks and marathon rows on the erg – the indoor rowing machine. (My friend Bob would dispute the latter report. He believes that ergs only exist in the other place, where they were invented to train the boatmen who rowed the unfortunates across the River Styx. But no matter.) Jim will be with me on my Camino.

You can learn more about the Camino de Santiago by searching on that name on your search engine of choice. You will get many thousands of hits. Martin Sheen made a very good movie about the Camino called “The Way.” I commend it to you. A good and funny book about the Camino is “I’m Off Then” by Hape Kerkeling. Also, there is a recent and good documentary showing in theatres from time to time called “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.”

As I write this, I am 10 days from getting on the big bird and heading off to the Camino. I’ll post again on March 28th before I head to SFO. Hope to see you here! If you wish, you can toggle on and my posts will be sent directly to your email when I click on “publish.”

With that, I’m off.

Knute Michael

Fog City Boy showing off his backpack stance!

Fog City Boy on the Camino Primativo