Dale around the world

After graduating in 2007 with a CCPA major and French minor, Dale moved to London to intern in Parliament and experience more international perspective. Each year he strives to visit two international festivals and tackle at least one major adventure. In 2007 he attended Carnivale in Venice and will attend Fiesta de San Fermin (running of the bulls) in Pamplona. For adventure, he chose trekking the West Highland Way (100 miles) in Scotland and the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage (500 miles) in Spain. He plans to continue education and dreams of achieving a Ph.D. from a top university for leadership which would allow him to work in international leadership development.

Finisterre

Cross

Through thick mist and fog, we came to Finisterre, the most western point of Europe; deep blasts of foghorn which warned seafarers of the Costa da Morte shook our chests and echoed through the dense soup of moisture all around us. Far below, the Atlantic searched its way through jagged rocks and licked at the slope of the old world. Night or day, we couldn’t tell through the fog, truly we were staring into nothingness, occasionally lit by the passing of the lighthouse’s majestic beam.

Lighthouse

Two short but powerful horn blasts would follow a 40 second pause, allowing us time to descend to the water below in echoed resonance. Attention! The sounds said. They were precise warnings of the storied cliffs known by men of Columbus’s fraternity.

Sunset

Quickly and carefully we scooped up the fabled water and ceremoniously bathed ourselves on the rocks. This bathing for a millennium has laid clean the tired souls of lonely pilgrims. Shortly after the bath, pilgrims burned their traveling garb and watched the sunset on the distant horizon. The next morning they would awake a new person… full of the light of life and the Lord.

Dale sitting

As we walked away from the lighthouse, I sensed that perhaps something small had changed in my world. Is something finished?

I’ve been forced to answer many times the “reasons” for which I ran with the bulls, walked the Camino, moved to London, learned French, etc. Usually I shrug, give some nonchalant answer which signals to the interrogator my intents have all been without reason and full of stubborn poetry and romantic innovation… saying, “why not?” or “I want to live” or “I value my youth very highly” or “I want to test myself” or “I can’t stand to be boring” or “I want my grandchildren to hear good stories” or something else witty and inarguable. All these reasons are true. But like a multiple choice exam, there is always a best answer.

My best guess is the most uninspiring… “why not?”

When you know it is possible to do these things, why would you choose not to try? I was asked if I was afraid to die or be hurt… and I honestly can say yes, I was afraid; but was I afraid to try living? I’m not… never will be… never want to be. In fact, I’d be disappointed in myself if I had not lived a life full of risk, challenge, adventurizing, laughter, gusto and luminance.

Dale with the sky behind

My light is on,
look and you will see.
Don’t ask yourself how to be like me.
Be yourself, find your switch,
set yourself all kinds of free.

Signing off… Dale

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Camino de Santiago is much like any other journey

After sleeping on it, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Camino de Santiago is much like any other journey. That is, the destination is only necessary as a point to affix your eyes and set in motion your soul… but the journey to reach that point is the reason itself for walking.

I think it’s best explained as an oreo cookie. The part in the middle is always the richest, the two ends are sweet ways to get the middle to your taste buds… but we eat them to get to the middle.

The smell of pilgrim still grips my clothes and body, we wonder if we get to keep that familiar funk. Is that how we bring home the Camino? I shaved my playoff beard which has now been replaced with the smoothest, cleanest man face I’ve seen in the mirror for months. I’m not sure I’ll miss walking each day, but I do feel like an episode of my life has faded to black. All I know is that my feet need to feel good so I can run with the bulls on Friday morning … wish me luck.

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The finish line

Arrived in Santiago. After a few grande cervezas, we have settled into
our pension with completed compostelles. Upon reaching the Catedral, we
simply sat in the looming presence of the Apostol de Santiago. No rush,
nowhere to be, nowhere to walk, we just soaked in the finish and spent
the night recapping stories of good, bad and ugly times.

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The finish line

Arrived in Santiago. After a few grande cervezas, we have settled into our pension with completed compostelles. Upon reaching the Catedral, we simply sat in the looming presence of the Apostol de Santiago. No rush, nowhere to be, nowhere to walk, we just soaked in the finish and spent the night recapping stories of good, bad and ugly times.

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We’re two or three days from Santiago

We’re two or three days from Santiago, approx 65 kms. The bittersweet ending is near. Our time with Markus and the girls will be surely finished. That fact is always hard to swallow for me.

This close to the end, there are droves of vacation newbie pilgrims out for a 3- to 5-day hike through cow-smelling Galicia. We race these newbies to towns in hopes of catching beds at the donativo albergues. These people think it??s okay to wake up at 5 am, pack the bag van and then walk loudly until noon. We generally have to restrain Markus from … how do we say?… having a cow when we see the group of annoying not-tired Spanish churchies sitting in flip flops outside the only donativo albergue at 1:30 pm.

Do people in Spain not have noses? It smells SO BAD in Galicia. Last night, the intermingling of cow feces and pilgrim socks led the hospitaleros to walk the bunk room vehemently spraying deodorizer… which made the 120 bedroom smell like roses (covered in steaming carcasses of long-dead beasts of burden, spoiled milk that you just opened for a quick whiff, a hundred 20-year-old funky mattresses still soaked with ape sweat and toenail clippings … that, plus crap).

Kai develops loyalty to such strange inanimate objects. Today he asked if he should keep his smelly hat or not. “It smells so bad, but it??s like a monument.” Then there was the sitting bag he wanted to keep til Santiago, then the fanta bottle, then there??s the yellowed wife beater which he is saving to wear as he walks into the Catedral. His favorite is “little guy,” a perfectly circular blister which forms each day on his left foot and disappears as he sleeps. We??ve all become a bit attached to the little guy.

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Two or three days from Santiago

We’re two or three days from Santiago, approx 65 kms. The bittersweet ending is near. Our time with Markus and the girls will be surely finished. That fact is always hard to swallow for me.

This close to the end, there are droves of vacation newbie pilgrims out for a 3- to 5-day hike through cow-smelling Galicia. We race these newbies to towns in hopes of catching beds at the donativo albergues. These people think it”s okay to wake up at 5 am, pack the bag van and then walk loudly until noon. We generally have to restrain Markus from … how do we say?… having a cow when we see the group of annoying not-tired Spanish churchies sitting in flip flops outside the only donativo albergue at 1:30 pm.

Building
Dale

Do people in Spain not have noses? It smells SO BAD in Galicia. Last night, the intermingling of cow feces and pilgrim socks led the hospitaleros to walk the bunk room vehemently spraying deodorizer… which made the 120 bedroom smell like roses (covered in steaming carcasses of long-dead beasts of burden, spoiled milk that you just opened for a quick whiff, a hundred 20-year-old funky mattresses still soaked with ape sweat and toenail clippings … that, plus crap).

Kai develops loyalty to such strange inanimate objects. Today he asked if he should keep his smelly hat or not. “It smells so bad, but it’s like a monument.” Then there was the sitting bag he wanted to keep til Santiago, then the fanta bottle, then there’s the yellowed wife beater which he is saving to wear as he walks into the Catedral. His favorite is “little guy,” a perfectly circular blister which forms each day on his left foot and disappears as he sleeps. We’ve all become a bit attached to the little guy.

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