Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 129 Arrived in Rome!

...and not much time on the computer at the moment, but just to say I've gotten here on a glorious sunny day after dawdling just a tad in gorgeous Umbria and other parts of the Italian interior - all those medieval hilltop villages that didn't make any guidebooks because they're too difficult to reach and cannot accommodate cars or busses - well, I passed through dozens of them following quiet old roads as much as possible, crossing olive groves with families out pruning and picnicking... a start contrast to when I arrived for Easter on my first long walk: 2 weeks of cold pouring rain then...

...more soon
thanks everyone who helped and encouraged me during these last four and a half months.

     .....this pilgrimage is over, sad but inevitable, but I anticipate spending my 'off-season' helping and guiding other pilgrims wherever they may want to go, and when the weather cools in autumn, I'll surely start off again... where to - eh?  I think I'll visit our friends to the north and walk from Denver to the Basilica of Ste Anne de Beaupré in Quebec, Canada's impressive pilgrim destination.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 119 I have crossed the Rubicon (sort of) !

The Rubicon, it turns out, no longer exists... at least the river that Julius Caesar famously crossed to set the collapse of the Roman Republic in motion.  Wikipedia says is believed to have been somewhere between the low coastal towns of Ravenna and Rimini on the Adriatic, and since I'm now in the marshes in between, I'm close enough.  The impact may not be so important to change the tide of world events, but to me, it means I'm very close to my destination.  I plan to be in Rome by the end of the month, and can't imagine that I'll need to venture into any more places my angels may fear to tread.

After fighting the wind to get out of Croatia, I'm head down below my visor to block the sun and rain showers.  How fitting it was, my first full day in Italy, seeking help to find a place to sleep and receiving it from a kind trio from a parochial school with the names Claudio, Augusta, and Lucius - hard to get more Roman names than those.  From Trieste along the coast, I've been walking along the Via Annia... the many canals of the River Po, and the many Venetian cities - Chioggia in particular was a pleasant surprise... except for some days of relatively warm rain, it's been such easy walking that I've upped my average distance back to a daily marathon.

Ravenna, a city I've never visited before, was the center of the empire for a few centuries up until the time of the final collapse, and interestingly, a center of the Arian Church for the short while it was in vogue.  Mosaics are the main remnant, impressive at that... I could spend several days as a tourist in such an interesting little city, but I'm a pilgrim now, not a tourist, so onward I go, coming up to 4,000 kilometers with an additional 400 or so to go.

   Shout out to Father Jim at the Santuario de Chimayò in New Mexico - thanks for the encouraging comments and thanks for warmly receiving foot pilgrims to Chimayò...walking isn't always as easy as it seems.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day 108 Bonus Time!

Croatia is in the EU, but not, as it turns out, in Schengenland, so I have 16 more days to play on my 90-day clock...yeah!  But... I still must make it to Rome by the end of the month, so no time to waste - marathons every day and I can make it.

Here's a shout-out to the kids at Dr Antuna Barca high school - I was asked by the religion teacher to speak to her classes this morning on the subject of pilgrimage.  I was impressed with the interest the students took, their courtesy, and their proficiency in English.  Go team!

The Croatian coast is interesting in its variability - for a few days, I walked through lush Mediterranean glory...olive groves, orange trees, lavender and rosemary; then more arid terrain with fig trees and plum cactus, ancient stone walls poetically draped on the north side with moss and ivy and bleached white on the south-facing side with small lizards darting between the wide mortarless spaces between rocks... then ,with little warning except a caution from a Benedictine nun that I would have a blustery day, the fierce Bura wind attacked with fury in a remarkably unpopulated and barren part of the coast - stronger and more persistent than the ceaseless wind of Kansas last winter.  For four days - the first day unsympathetically accompanied by biting rain and snow - the wind blew at more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph), far more than that required to blow this little pilgrim right off her feet.  The danger was heightened by the steep drop to the crashing sea without even a guardrail.  After more than 3,000 kilometers of walking, new muscles got such a workout that I was sore all over again.  The roads were closed to traffic; I was rather alone.  Never a dull pilgrim moment.

Next will be Trieste and the familiarity of Italia - and good coffee.