Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Itinerary

My trip is on the threshold, yet with so many variables in front of me how much should I try to plan?  For convenience, I'll follow the Via de la Plata out of Santiago until I can break free of the world of giant yellow arrows and cold municipal pilgrim houses at Salamanca and begin the walk toward historic Toledo, passing through Avila with a nod to St Teresa.  Onward to the former Moorish capital of Cordova then to the crossing at Algeciras to Morocco, perhaps by the first week in November.

Crossing Morocco and Algeria should be fascinating and straightforward - how possibly can I lose my way if I keep the Mediterranean to my left at all times?  It will be interesting to see the coastal cities still under Spanish governance yet mingling with the remnants of French colonialism and 'home rule'... I'm expecting a nifty mingling of architecture and cuisine.  Although there will be plenty of Catholic enclaves in the larger cities throughout the region, I think it would be pretty cool to get to Annaba, formerly Hippo, to celebrate Christmas at the Monastery of St Augustine.

Onward, is the plan, toward Tunis, perhaps by January 3rd to check with the Libyan embassy about access to that country.  Hopes are high!!  If all goes well, I'd get to the border around January 23rd and to Tripoli just at the end of the month.  [If not, I'll find some way to sail around the 2,000 kilometers of shoreline to Egypt.]  With joy, I'm anticipating the Libyan land route through Sirte and to Benghazi in the early days of March.

Entering Egypt before the end of March would put me into Alexandria around April 10th (or so...) then down to Cairo to make arrangements for the desert journey to the very old and very historic and uber-whooey Monastery of St Anthony.  The local Coptic priest I met suggests a donkey and cart if I'm truly committed to hoofing it.  Many many days in the open desert with not so much as a Bedouin camel train anywhere in the vicinity.  The beast of burden will carry the necessary water and food for the both of us.  Since I am so committed, I've got to make a little time to study up on donkey husbandry... then somehow cross the Red Sea to the bottom half of the Sinai Peninsula to get to the Monastery of St Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai, overflowing with history.  Maybe it will be early May by then.

No time to linger, the desert will be getting hotter as the days get longer.  I'm not sure of the best way to get to Jerusalem, but I'm not going to overdo the details now.  I'm certain locals will best advise a lone pilgrim.  Perhaps I'll get to my final destination before the end of May.  ish.  The average daily high in late May in Jerusalem is 25°C (78°F) and it will be just at the end of the rainy season.  There's a lot of motivation for me to be out of the desert before the arid heat drives me to sit in the shade all day.


Margaret Meredith said...

As always I wish you the best for your journey. May you go in peace.

With fond memories of our meeting one frosty night in Santo Domingo de la Calzada in 2009.


Margaret Meredith

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Hard to believe this pilgrimage is about to happen.You're a genius at figuring out what you have to figure out and letting go of those things that are not in your control right now. Counting down the days with you.

Anonymous said...

I like your independent spirit in your walks, not using the popular pilgrim routes. Your walks are bold and beautiful.

A word on the Moroccan/Algerian border; it hasn't been open for many years. The only time that it was opened was once a couple of years ago to let the Gaza Aid convoy through, then closed again.

Before the uprising, Libya was difficult of access for travellers.Now, who knows?

Please double check this info, of course. And you will do this fine walk, I'm sure.

Ultreia, Suseia