Wednesday, July 6, 2011

If not now, then when?

Despite my efforts to resist the call of the path, I can't help but let my thoughts wander toward the pilgrim trail.

'There are still some miles in my legs,' I told myself not long past arriving in Rome after three months on the trail from Canterbury, 'so I should make another pilgrimage.'

'There's no harm in doing just one more long walk,' I convinced myself after I reached Santiago de Compostela fresh from the three-month journey from Germany.

'Of course a great foot pilgrimage can be done in America, too,' I insisted to myself after arriving in the Peloponnesian springtime following the long and exciting winter walk from Kyiv, 'so I should do one.'

And lately, the thought 'if not now, then when,' has persistently toiled on my mind since I've returned to Denver from my walk to Mexico City even after two months on the Ultima Thule.

Anyone thinking that 'Winter Pilgrim' is already making necessary preparations for a new epic winter walk would be right. I can't seem to help it! I'm called to the pilgrim life and suited for it.


'A little revolution every now and then is a good thing,' said Thomas Jefferson in reference to Shay's Rebellion in New England not long after the birth of America.

Yeah, so isn't the Arab Spring timely for me? Even the possibility that a pilgrim might travel on a US passport across North Africa is enough for me to attempt it. Prior to the rebellions, I wouldn't have thought it possible. I'm now experienced walking across a desert alone and experienced passing through a Muslim culture while on pilgrimage. Timing is everything.

Santiago de Compostela to Jerusalem by way of North Africa.

Mega-epic, if it could be actually be done in the winter 2011-2012.

I'm fixed on beginning in September. At my now-well-established rate of 1,000 kilometers per month, perhaps it will take me until April or May or June...ish. How foresightful those Romans were for creating a network of old Roman Roads the entire distance!

There are layers upon layers of history to be trod upon, of particular interest to a geek like me is the opportunity to visit the Moorish intellectual centers of Toledo and Cordova in Spain; crossing over at the Pillars of Hercules to Morocco; traversing the Atlas Mountains along the coast of Algeria; then there's the Barbary Coast and the remnants of Carthage, Tunisia; okay, a few questions about crossing into expansive Libya need to be resolved by about February when it will be important to me; then Egypt and a short stroll along the Dead Sea to the final destination before the desert gets too hot.

Wow! I'm bubbling with excitement at the thought of it.

With the diversity of this route, only Santiago de Compostela is a place I've visited before. Start with the familiar, then every step is a new one... what will be around the next rock?

I've already gotten the Arabic alphabet under my belt, and of course, the phrase, 'Hi, I'm a pilgrim.'

Much more to follow!

If not now, then when? and afterwards maybe I'll get a normal life again.


ksam said...

"normal" ... Why? Just so you know, you make my heart sing with possibilites..thank you so much for blogging about it all!

Anonymous said...

Immediately pulled out the atlas to look over your plans. Eager to follow your every step - again! شكرا --- that's "thank you" in Arabic --- for sharing your experiences with us!
Agnes in Denver

Compostelle 2008 said...

Wow, I am green with envy! Looking forward to another pilgrimage even it is only virtual for me!

Michèle (Ottawa, ON) Canada

Hilde, Shetland said...

Excited about your excitement! Will pray you through your walk whenever you decide to do it, looking forward to keeping up with you on your blog
blissins from Hilde in Shetland

Margaret Meredith said...

Keep on planning and your dream will soon become reality! Ultreia!

The Solitary Walker said...

Absolutely awe-struck at your ambition. Oh, wow..!

The Solitary Walker said...

PS No, you'll never get a 'normal' life, Ann. Not even afterwards!

peter said...

Wow! I've heard of people walking to Jerusalem from Santiago by cutting through France, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan but you're taking the direct route.

Eastern Libya and western Egypt may be problematic unless you acquire an animal to carry water for you. Probably not a good idea to attempt that stretch alone on foot.