Posts from the ‘Off-Grid’ Category
Our eyes open to four pairs of walking boots, eight pairs of black thermal legs topped by shorts.
Too many people, too close, too early. Windmills thrum in my head. I plunk my face back down into dew.
” It’s the B..r…a…Z….i….l…l…e….ñ…o…..s ” says Mark.
I raise my upper body inside my sleeping bag and waterproof layer, cobra like. Four Brazillians beam down at us like grinning gods.
“Bellezzzza” say the Gods.
We smile as widely as we are able at 6 am and utter the magic words”Buen Camino” and the Brazilians tramp off into the rising mist.
“Lets get up quick, before the next wave”says Mark.
And so it is that as a new pilgrim enters our domain we are up and dressed and eating a fine breakfast of cereal bars and figs.
“Oh man. This IS BEAUTIFUL” exclaims an American male. “NATUR- RAL PEEPO” he coos.
The pilgrim moves off the track and onto our campspot.
“I’m Kelly….. It’s good to meeeet yoouuuu…. what’s yoourrr naaaame”? he extends his hand towards me.
“Anna” I say.
” I looooove you uuu….Aaanna” he purrs.
“Oh God!” I think “he’s going to hug me”. And he does. Oh NO!! It’s Mark ‘s turn to get hugged. Not sure he’s into stranger hugs.
“What’s youuurrrrr naaaaame?” asks Kelly
“Mark” says Mark.
“I looooove yoouuu Maaaarrrrrkk !”
” I love youuu Kelly!” says Mark.
Kelly gestures towards our camping gear laid out by the wayside.
“I looooove yourrrrrr Caaaamino sssstyyyyle” he says “Yoouuuur such beeeeeauuuutifullllll peeeeeoople.”
The windmills whir and slim, tanned, clean cut Kelly tells us he is from Hawaii and began his Camino in Saint Tropez, France. He tells us how he has ditched most of his gear including his music, tent and other essentials. How he is travelling light, sleeping out under the stars wrapped in a shower curtain.
“What d’you do back home” we ask, intrigued.
” I do this for a living?” he says “Don’t we have a choice”?
And off Kelly trots into his neat little future.
“Preacher man” says Mark
“Millionaire?” says me.
At lunchtime we see Kelly sitting yogi like before a statue of The Virgin, his world laid out in the sunshine to dry on a stone bench.
In the old world Camino town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada we wash a bag of cherries in a cool “fuente” and just around the corner we spot Kelly on the terrace of a busy pilgrim bar.
Kelly opens his arms wide “Helooooo Natuuuuural peeeeople” he says standing to hug us in turn.
“How are you doing”? says Mark.
“Oh I’m resting today” says Kelly” I’m gonna hangout in this cafe’s all day with PILGRIMS”
” You okay Kelly? I ask.
“Everything! hurts ” says Kelly his eyes swivelling towards buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles, feet.
” Yeah best to rest up here then ” we say “Hasta luego Kelly, have fun”
“Buen Camino Natural people” says Kelly.
(This is a one of series of pilgrim stories by Anna about her experiences with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).
We arrive at The Bodega de Irache on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim trail in Northern Spain hot and parched. The iron gates of the fabled “Fuente de Vino” are closed and a dishevelled pilgrim and his dog are occupying the space behind them.
“Come in and have a drink! I am Bin Laden and this is my dog Cana”.
We accept the invitation and push open the gate to enter the domain of the Bodega webcam. The dog “Cana” licks our hands and “Bin Laden” whose real name is Pedro offers to take our photos. We pose, while first water then wine runs into our thirsty mouths and washes over our hands. What a crazy good tasting and generous tap!
“Felisa has her own stamp” says the guide book. Like other Pilgrims on The Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail we are collecting Camino stamps at hostels, bars and churches as proof of our journey. When we arrive at Santiago our full passport will swapped for a certificate.
“You are famous” we say as we approach a wayside stall on the track that leads into Logroño.
We ask Felisa for her photo and she poses smiling behind her stall.As well as her own stamp La señora Felisa offers sugar depleted pilgrims fresh figs, if the season and the weather are right.
“These days the weather has gone mad,¨ she says. It´s too wet and the figs rot on the trees or it´s too hot and dry.¨
¨It never used to be like this in my mothers time¨she adds.
Her mother, who is the real Felisa¨… the celebrated Señora Felisa of the figs, water and love is reputed to have spent her daylight hours attending to weary pilgrims, offering them ¨Higos Agua and Amor” in the service of God and humanity. Sadly her daughter tells us that La Señora Felisa has passed away and the responsibility falls on her, Felisa’s daughter to offer hospitality to Pilgrims outside the family home in memory of her mother.
Paulino’s home-made wayside shade-shack has everything we need to make us happy. Our needs are few; water, shade, a snack and a place to rest. We fill our bottles and sip pure coolness before picking up a stone to crack open walnuts of hospitality.
“Thankyou Paulino… your good health!” In our mind’s eye we see Paulino in his veg garden waving a hoe.
“Buen Camino” we think we hear him say.
Many thousands of pilgrims drink from Paulino’s Well on their way to Santiago de Compostella, so if all of them leave him gratitude, the pool will overflow.
(This story is the second in a series of stories Anna is writing about pilgrims she and Mark met on The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).
Roxanne and Lisa
“Hello big dog¨.
A gentle giant pads into our field of vision as we enjoy a perfect afternoon on the lakeside at Logroño. And two German girls with monster rucksacks shout out a cheery “Hola”.
“How’s your dog like the Camino”? we ask them.”Roxy’s not used to long walks” replies the tall one in Spanish.
“Her feet feet are a bit sore, so we’re taking it really slow “. Mmm… its not so easy to do the Camino with a dog then?”
“Camino hostels won’t take Roxy so we sleep outdoors under a kind of a shelter… its called A TARP?” she says TARP in English. We nod.
“Oh yes we know… a TARP.
“Great” we say”, but your pack must be heavy with all that dog food”!
“My parents wanted me to bring the dog,she’s mine. They weren’t happy for me to travel alone, so they told me I had to take Roxanne”.
“She’s a lovely dog” we reply as we pat Roxy’s wide head. Her eyes roll upwards to meet our touch.
“Buen Camino” we say by way of goodbye.
“Buen Camino” echo the girls as Roxy pulls them sharply towards cool lake water.
“Oh I wish we had Ghyllie here” says Mark.” I miss him sooo.”
We meet up with Roxanne and Lisa again on our way into Burgos. Roxy is pleased to see us.
“Where’s your friend”? we ask .”Friend?… Oh she was just someone I was walking with. She’s German and so is my mum so we chatted a while then we went our separate ways.
Roxanne is the kind of dog that protects sheep in Italy and she keeps us closely bunched together while we have a lively chat all the way from the city limits into the centre. What are her motivations for coming on the Camino, we wonder. Lisa has a happy home, she says, living in the country with her parents, dogs and horses. She helps her dad out with forestry, but…
“I am a dropper outer” she confides. “Really”? “We are genuinly surprised.
“I can’t stick anything, I start things, but I leave, I don’t know what I want to do and thats why I’m on the Camino”.
“Yeah” says Mark “You can forget everything else but the walk” for The Camino has this effect on him.
“No, it’s the exact opposite”, says Lisa.”Travelling on my own gives me time to think. My mind is full of home, my family, my problems. I’ve had lots of time to go back over my life and think about it. Its a real help”.
“But you haven’t dropped out of THE CAMINO,” we say.” Bet your parents didn’t think you’d stick it out”!
“Yeah they’re really surprised, they can’t believe it”.
“You see your a sticker outer now. You’ve changed” I say. Lisa tells us she wouldn’t have been here now had it not been for a stranger she’d met along the way.
“I left my car at Somport in the Pyreneesand began to walk but I hated it. After just a few days I wanted to leave, just stop. It was awful, but I met a German man, a pilgrim. He was very stern. He gave me a BIG telling off.
“Your life is too easy,” he said ” You’re a really spoilt kid, when the going gets tough you just drop out. It’s disgraceful. Life’s not like that, you’ve got to put up with discomfort and persevere. Stop making a big fuss, pull yourself together and get on with it. People don’t want to hear your moaning.” “So I gave it another go.” Lisa smiles and we laugh together.
“I have that man to thank. It was just what I needed. He was right and here I am”.
“You must be proud of yourself “we say and tell her how brilliantly she’s done. We feel as proud as parents. “You are an inspiration to my younger self!” I say.
Chupito and Marlene
We are eating lunch on a pleasant hill-side under pines when a girl appears with a donkey. Our eyes follow their slow progress down the hill.
“Why d’you reckon they’re going contra-flow? I ask Mark. “I dunno” Mark replies. ” She’s got dreads” I say.
“Yeah” says Mark.
“I’m going to say hello” I say as I leap to my feet sandwich in hand ” I’m going to find out her story”.
I dash along the hill-top barefoot. Great they’ve stopped on the track for a chat with some pilgrims. ” Wait” I shout . …. as the pilgrims hand her something and part. I call out to her in Spanish as I make my way down the prickly incline. “I want to say Hello”!
The girl is in her twenties, she has light leather sandals and a lime-green day pack. She looks a bit bewildered. I jump out onto the trail in front of her like a bandit.
“Can I say hello to your donkey”?
The donkey is one of those big dark brown ones with soft eyes and he’s laden with a traditional set of woven paniers, he is un-startled at my breathy approach. “Can I give your donkey a bite of my bocadillo”? Velvet lips are reaching gently for my sandwich.
“Here” says the girl and hands me a piece of the crispiest toastiest sun-dried bread flipped out from under the pommel of the saddlepack. “This is better for him”. I feed the toast to the grateful donkey.
“What’s his name ?” …. ” Is he a donkey or a mule?
” He’s Chupito and he’s a mule” says the girl.
She is patient and kind though, she says, they’ve met more than 600 people in the six weeks they’ve been travelling from Santiago and they all want to pet Chupito. She says she is Marlene, is French and No she doesn’t live on the Camino.
“This is just a” viaje- a trip!
She tells me how she bought Chupito in Andalusia.”He was “muy barato”she says repeating the words “muy barato”very cheap for emphasis. Poor Chupito, it turns out that the price was low because he was deranged. He’d had been badly treated and didn’t trust anyone.
“He was actually really dangerous when we set out” says Marlene. But we’ve been together all the time, we trust each other and he’s a very good mule now.”
“But… what will happen to Chupito at the end of your journey ?” I ask, concerned.
“He’s going to live at a monastery run by Buddhist nuns! The nuns are really kind and they’ll care for him in a meadow they have there. ”
We smile with relief at the happy ending of Chupito’s tale.
Marlene opens her palm to reveal three gold coins. LOOK I’ve got money. ” she says “I’m going into town for a COFFEE”!
The Camino Dreamcloud Vision
It’s late evening and our map shows a campspot between us and the autopista. An all-terrain vehicle is raising dust further down the trail.
¨I think they´re going to camp there. Let’s go to the next camp-spot.”
We watch as two men get out of the truck and mosey around the campspot. “What d’you think they are doing?”I ask Mark.
“I dunno” says Mark.
Soon they are back in the car and making a new trail of dust back up tthe hill towards the setting sun. They turn around at a huge stack of barley straw and once again descend the hll in our direction.
“What’s going on?” I say, as they drive our way.
As they pass us they stop and hang out of the window to apologise for raising such a dust storm with their comings and goings.
“Have you seen the boy and the girl? Says the tall dark-haired guy in American English. “No! ” Which Boy and which Girl”?
We are puzzled.
“The ones with a horse and a dog” they say.
“We haven’t seen any teenagers walking the Camino.”No” we say. ‘We haven’t seen them with a horse and a dog.”
Driver and passenger turn, so they can look back up the hill. Small figures are coming down the trail.
“They’ll be here soon. We’re their support vehicle” say the men”.We’ve been down to check out the camp-spot. It’s nice and quiet.”
“So…. who are THEY”? says Mark curious “What’s their story?”
“They are two teenagers with really severe behavioural difficulties. The idea is they have each rescued an animal from an animal sanctuary in Andalusia and walked with them along the Via de la Plata pilgrim trail to Santiago.We’re piloting a scheme to see if we can help kids with these kinds of problems. If it works then the government will roll it out. They’ve been walking for six weeks. There’s a social worker with them, they are camping along the route and we are carrying the gear, food and so on in the back-up vehicle”.
The back of their vehicle is full of stuff.
“So..um…where are they walking to”?
“Oh” says the driver who has a grey stubbly beard and sounds German.”They’re walking over the Pyrenees to Germany”.
It sounds as if he’s telling us that the children will be walking over the hill to the next village.
“They are walking to Germany”?We look at each other and back to them in disbelief.
“Yes, Germany, we hope they’ll be cured when they arrive.Oh excuse us, we’ve gotta go they mustn’t see us talking to you.” says the American. “Buen Camino”!
“Buen Camino” we reply.
The driver hits the accelerator and they are gone leaving a white puffy cloud shortly to be filled by a blonde girl on a snow white horse, a woman with a pack, a spotty boy with an inward looking gaze and a striking blue-eyed dog in a neckachief.
“Buen Camino” we say to them, but they inhabit another dimension and don’t hear us. As they pass by the pony breaks into trot and the girl shrieks clutching the mane. No bridle, no saddle, no collar, a holy-vision bathed in straw-coloured evening light. Our eyes fill with tears at the wondrous beauty of it all.
“I wonder how long it will be” says Mark “before they can begin to trust people again?”
Here is a little audio/visual glimpse of our piece, “If you’d like to….Taos Off-Grid” at The Paseo in Taos, New Mexico, for you to enjoy.
We hope you liked our novel Notes from The Paseo blog. To further delve into our recent experience at The Paseo we are exploring a new post format over at our News Feed at www.claireandanna.com. Check it out HERE.
Writing creatively together is a lot of fun!
A curious Paseo visitor approaches. “Are you part of The Paseo?” he asks.
“Yes! ” says Claire. “We’re number 19, would you like to have a listen?” She hands him the headphones.
It’s Friday, Sept. 26th in Taos, New Mexico, just a few minutes after 4pm and there is tangible excitement in the air.Volunteers are rushing around or expectantly waiting at the info window to help with enquiries. Something is happening in Taos that has never happened before; the first ever “Paseo” is beginning and Claire and Anna’s “If you’d like to….Taos Off-Grid“ is on the move!
The man puts on the headphones and inclines his head, listening, a finger poised ready to press a button when the inclination strikes. He smiles and settles in to listen for a while, enjoying the experience.
“If you’d like to let cactus fruit dribble down your chin, please press five. If you’d like to apagar las luces para siempre, please press six. If you’d like to inhabit the wilderness of your dreams, please press seven. If you’d like to….” The man presses 7 on the keypad to confirm his choice.
“You’ve gotta hear this! And it’s SOLAR POWERED!” he calls to his wife, who is gathering info at The Paseo info booth. Part pet, part machine, the”If you’d like to….” Unit has a private message for Claire.
“My new solar panels seem like they’re working well!” it says.
“Anything else?” says Claire, eager to hear more.
“I love being centre stage, people listening to me pressing my buttons. I live for moments like this, I’m thriving on the buzz.! And I like the way the roads are laid out here in Taos, I can relate to that. But am I all terrain enough for these wonky sidewalks? And what will happen if we take a dirt side-road?”
Claire is glad that no one else can hear the unit’s next utterance.
“That part is up to you, silly! You DO HAVE an imagination DON’T YOU!? I can’t be expected to do everything, can I?”
“Yeah, Its working!” Claire reassures the woman, “You see, in this piece low tech meets high tech and the high tech part is your imagination! The wooden buttons are there for you to physically register your choice, they don’t do anything to the options soundtrack. Your imagination is the thing that makes it ‘work’ and the most important part of the piece!”
A light comes on in the woman’s head and she smiles. “Oh I see,” She says. “Cool. Interesting idea!”
At this location, people are a little wary and are slow to interact, so Claire approaches passers by with an upbeat “Would you like a listen?”
Some do stop, but some hurry on their way. “No thanks,” they say.
Anna across the pond is lying awake in her cozy bed in Devon.”What’s happening at the Paseo? I wonder if it’s busy?”
“Time for a new location,” says Claire to the Unit, as the two of them make their way to the opposite end of The Paseo. By the time they reach the festival’s North end, The Paseo is in full swing.
“This is more like it!” says Claire. At the new site near #4 on the map, Axle Contemporary Gallery piece, “The Potato,” Claire and the mobile unit are literally “mobbed” by eager participants who all want to listen.
The Unit thrives on attention. Just as more people really begin arriving en mass, it whispers to Claire between listeners, “I love community! I want to start conversations and set imaginations whirring!”
Claire and the Unit are fascinated that each individual has a different experience of and reaction to their piece. Lots of folks chuckle and stare off into the distance while listening.
Now its the turn of a young child; she is enthusiastic to try it, but then says “It’s too fast! I can’t hear the options! Mama I want you to listen too… erkkk… yau…” She dissolves into tears and leaves questioning her parents about the piece.
Later a group of kids comes along and the supervising grown-up has to enforce a time limit for listening so that everyone gets a turn. “But I haven’t gotten to hear all the options yet!” protests one child when it’s the next kid’s turn.
There are so many people on the streets and not everyone gets to listen. “Hmm I wonder what that is over there?” says a man as his eyebrows lift. “What do you think people are listening to?” says another.
“I’m so glad we happened to find you! I really wanted to see your piece but didn’t know where to look for you!” exclaims a friend of Claire’s.
Claire laughs, “It is all about being in the right place at the right time. People just have to happen upon us. That is part of the experience the piece!”
“If you’d like to be Off-grid all the way please press….” says the Unit and then adds under its breath, “I certainly am!”
Watch the “If you’d like to…” Mobile Unit SPEAKING Video here.
“It’s 35 degrees Centigrade and the sky is black with thunder as we exit a bar in Villa Franca de Oca. We carry fresh “bocadillos” in our packs and hot mint tea and we’ll walk ’till dusk.
“I think we’re in for our first storm” I say.
” Maybe….” says Mark
Last night we had a wilderness experience off the beaten track; two sleepy sillouettes on a starry hilltop with a happy soundtrack of cowbells and frogs. And tonight we’ll sleep under a natural canopy in the Forest of “Oca” (Goose in Spanish).
” D’ya think we’re MAD? ” I say as we head off together, up a steep and stony path.
“Probably…” says Mark.
When we reach an interpretation panel by the wayside, we stop to have a look.
“Look” I say “There are Brown bears and ….. ” my eyes open wide and my eyebrows shoot up.
“Mmmm… ” says Mark
Back home in Devon my mum emailed me to say “Be careful of wolves on the forest tracks”
“What makes you think there are WOLVES? on the Camino? ” I tell her.
An almighty crack shatters the peace and tranquility of the Camino and the sky splinters into shards.
” A proper attack of aniseed balls” I say while the weather pummels our heads and necks as we run for the woods.
We cosy up under the tarp next to one massive deciduous oak.
“It’s almost fun” I say daring the storm.
We follow the trail upward and just as rain begins to fall, a perfect shelter pops up magically from the track. At the back of this welcome rain-shade is a lone pilgrim.
“I hope he doesn’t mind” says Mark as we head into dry-space.
“I’d do the Camino just for the VIEWS ?” says the sitting man bewitched by the panorama.
“I started out with my girlfriend” he tells us “but the Camino’s not for her”.
” Oh?” says Mark.
“Her pack was too heavy and she wasn’t enjoying it. She had to go back to work”
Our shelter companion for the duration of the rain is Paul Murphy.
” I’m an MEP” says Paul ,”for the Irish Socialist Party”. ” I’ve just lost my seat in Brussels so I’m out of a job in a week.”
We find we know nothing about members of the European parliament so Paul fills us in. “MEPs earn 90.000 Euro a year. ” he says. Now that’s a big incentive .
“As MEP’s we get 300 Euros per day every day we attend Parliament. Just for turning up”
” hmmm” says Mark.”Seems a lot”.
” But…..” says Paul “As a member of the Irish Socialist Party we pay ourselves the average national youth wage for Ireland.”
“The youth wage? I ask ” The YOUTH wage says Mark.
It’s still raining so Paul chats on. He’s signed in at a hostel for the night and has come out without his rain jacket . Luckily he has a lot of stories and is happy to share them with us. He is a persona non-grata in a couple of states. He was part of the flotilla taking supplies into Gaza, he was captured at gun point and ended up an Israeli jail, so he’s not very popular there.
“What was it liiiiike in Prison?” I ask my eyes popping.
“Oh” he says ” It was muuch better than the yacht.” ” I was so seasick, it was really horrible.”
We couldn’t have dreamed up a more humble and engaging pilgrim to be holed up with in the rain. And he has more stories.
“I helped broker a deal for striking miners in Kazakstahn” he tells us.
“You’re an activist” then?”
“Yes” says Paul “My party brokered an agreement between the government and the striking miners”
We smile expectant.
“But as soon as we left the country the miners were shot!”
We digest the news as rain drums on the roof above.
And before the rain ceases there is time to tell Paul about Claire and me about DREAMING PLACE and how we took Radio Dreaming back to play to Mary-Jane and other participants in Ireland in our Place-dreamer Pod and what a lot of effort went into the Kickstarter campaign.
” And did Mary-Jane get to hear Radio Dreaming at her homestead” says Paul.
” Yes she did!” in his mind’s eye an old lady is a-listening in the Pod, her eyes alight with dreams.
Our rainy meeting in the pop-up shelter on The Camino has conjoured up diverse visons. And now it’s time for Paul to head back down to his hostel for the night.
“What time are you up in the morning” he asks us as he gets up to go.
“Oh about 7.30 or 8.00 a.m”
Though the storm has moved away we decide to stay the night in the shelter. Its just too good to miss. So we eat our bocadillos, drink the lovely hot tea and lay our bags out for the night in this Camino dreaming place.
“D’you think the bins’ll lure in hungry wolves “I say.
“Yup says Mark.
Now he puts on his wooly hat.
“Buenas Noches” he says and he’s asleep.
In the morning we set off along a steaming trail into the big woods.
“Red riding hood would have been safe here ” I say, for the mystery of the wood is lost on the grit causeway the Camino has become.We gravitate to a pilgrim friendly ditch by the side of the Super-Camino where we walk in single file.
“I passed by for you at seven thirty ” says a voice from trail “but you’d already gone!”
“We had the Mother of all Storms in the night.” calls up Mark cheerily from inside the ditch.
This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.
Paul Murphy is AAA (Anti- Austerity – Alliance) Member of Parliament for Dublin South West. Paul’s website.
Find out about Paul’s popular AAA campaign to scrap water charges in Ireland .
For its new off-grid incarnation, we’ve added a new solar component to the unit (see the little tri-winged solar panels?) and we’ve been crafting a new set of off-grid, Taos-based options for participants to choose from as well. Here it is stretching its new solar wings….and getting a test run by Claire’s husband, Chris. (Big shout out to Chris, who was instrumental in building the unit, it’s rolling platform and making the recent solar modification! Thank you!)
We are so honored to have been invited to participate in THE PASEO! It is a festival dedicated to bringing the art of installation, performance and projection to the streets of Taos, New Mexico in conjunction with the Taos Fall Arts festival (now in its 40th year).
You can read all about it here: http://www.paseotaos.org/
We are number 19 on this interactive map, though we will actually be a “roving installation”: http://livetaos.com/paseo-map
If you live nearby, please come for a stroll on The Paseo this Friday, September 26, 4 – 10 pm! Claire and family will see you there! (Anna will be cheering them on from Devon.)
So too on “The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail” in Northern Spain, Mark and I encounter many inspiring and interesting people and Mark records their names on a hand-carved “tally stick” as a momento. I have added my own titles to their names to help me remember them.
Daniel the Courageous, Paulino of the Well, Serg the litter picker, Felisa of the Figs, Girl and boy with horse and dog. Mother and daughter Pila and Raquel, Irish politician Paul, Young Lisa and dog Roxanne, Eduardo Keeper of caves and his Wife.
(and what about the girl and her mule “Chupito”maybe the stick was too short, Mark?)
I’m eager to share stories of some of the pilgrims we have met and I’ll start with the story of Daniel the Courageous.
DANIEL THE COURAGEOUS.
Waves of barley break over the low-wild hills of Navarra to our left as a we catch up with another pilgrim. There is something about his lurching gait….that worries us.
“Oh my God,” says Mark. “Heart attack?” I reply. The man stumbles again. Mark is off…running to his aid. “Are you alright?” he has real concern in his voice. The man is calm “No es nadam, estoy bien,” he says.
“How can we help? ” Mark replies.
“Here.” He passes over our water bottle. “Have some water.” The man is clearly exhausted, dying perhaps, beads of sweat on his forehead.
“What to do?” We look at each other for inspiration.
“Estoy muy bien, muchas gracias” repeats the man quietly, slowly.
A fellow pilgrim is suffering, we won’t leave him to his fate here on the dusty track. Mark asks him again how we can help. He waves a tube of suntan lotion. “Gracias,” he says shaking his head. “Estoy muy bien.” “You should rest a bit in the shade, its too hot,” we say. The man looks at us sympathetically then extends his hand in friendship.
“Soy Daniel” he says quietly.
We want to hear more so we lean in towards him and watch his lips. “Tengo Parkinsons” says Daniel. We read his message loud and clear.
“PARKINSONS?” we gasp incredulous.
“But you are walking THE CAMINOOO and you have PARKINSONS ?”
Daniel is on a roll. “Voy a Burgos,” he says !! It turns out that Daniel is walking the whole Camino ,but like us he is doing it in stages.
“Oh my god.” “This is amazing “!! ” You are incredible” we say with English understatement. Meeting Daniel is awe – inspiring. We will NEVER complain AGAIN !!!
We wish him well shouting” Buen Camino” as we pace off towards the horizon. But soon the violent glare of the sun forces us to stop and we sit out the siesta hours in the shade of poplars.
AND …. after a while who should come down the lane but our friend DANIEL. If Santiago himself had just caught us up with us we would have been less surprised. We run out into the sunshine to greet him.
He smiles and begins to fumble in his bumbag. We watch his fingers struggle with the zip and search for a paper. He hands over his photocopied details in English, French and German. “I am Daniel. I have Parkinsons” says the English version. We fold the paper with his contact details and tuck it away in Mark’s pack. We want to join Daniel’s fan club.
“We’ll email when we get home ” we say. But Daniel is not finished. He tells us how his motor-biking companions bugged him to visit the doctor when he simply thought he was getting old. He got his diagnosis some years back and decided to do the Camino.
We wish Daniel well as he sets off again. The sun is still way too hot for us so we’ll catch him up later.The funny things is that we never do. Daniel is the tortoise and we are the hare.
This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.
Mark and I started our” Camino” experience at Pamplona bus station by a star shaped fort they have there. A grandfather became our first guide directing us towards a tree with a yellow arrow. The way may also be marked by a shell icon.
If you are uncertain or have ventured off the official route someone magically pops up to show you the way. On one of our frequent diversions, three generations of women were waiting for us outside their home to point us in the direction of the next “aldea”. They chatted with us as they walked us over the hill and around the corner to make sure we didn’t get lost, wished us “Buen Camimo”, planted kisses on our cheeks and were gone.
The John Brierley guide book to the way of St James has become a bible for English speakers and many follow the suggested stages, making particular hostels more busy than others. Also known as “The Camino Francés” this popular pilgrim route starts at St Jean Pied a Port in the northern Pyrenees, but you can start your pilgrimage anywhere, from a train or bus station in Spain or France or from your own doorstep. We met a man who has been on “The Camino” for 12 years and it has become his home. He has walked it 27 times. The pilgrim trail measures just 780k from St Jean to Santiago so it could easily take 4 -5 weeks.
We spent only ten days and nights on the Camino because this holiday was a simple ” go see” trip for us. We plan to do the full Camino (Frances) next year and will be allowing forty days and forty nights, leaving plenty of time for excursions and rest days. You will remember that Claire and I chose this biblical sounding time frame for our DREAMING PLACE project and it kind of suits this pilgrimage, don’t you think?
Most pilgrims we met came on their own and have many different sorts of motivation and stories. I’ll be telling you about some of them in subsequent blogs. Pilgrims of the Camino generally travel on foot, carrying their own packs and sleep and eat in hostels. Some do the journey on bikes and we met a man from Germany cycling contra -flow, whose pilgrimage had begun in Portugal, he’d already reached Santiago de Compostela and was going on to Lourdes.
There are a total of around 200.000 pilgrims per year which seems a lot, some use different routes but in any case you only meet a small proportion of these people, so don’t let numbers put you off. Our main challenge was the very powerful sun that shone nearly the whole time, so we split our day in two parts, resting up in the shade for a giant siesta each day and walking on into the evening. We really enjoyed the company of strangers and spent part of each day walking and talking with others, we were particularly grateful to them because we chose to stay by the wayside in bivvy bags we missed out on the famed communal meals, which are also great for sharing and exchange.
Many pilgrims show their status by hanging an outsize cockle shell from their back pack. We carried snail shell talismans to inspire us in the art of SLOW TRAVEL.
Though I was not officially “on project” and this trip wasn’t conceived as an art work. Our experience of the Camino was deep and rewarding and had elements of DREAMING PLACE. We even carried the Red and Silver DREAMING PLACE mat that Claire brought with her from New Mexico for our Dreaming in Ireland. As the Camino passes through homelands inhabited by foxes, genet, wild cats, European Bison, brown bears and wolves, we further protected our camp spot with drops of lavender hoping to deter any beasties small enough to enter our sleeping bags. We never woke up with a bison in our bags so it really does work.
As in our off-grid experience in Ireland we came to remember once again the importance of food, water, shelter and to feel again the kindness of strangers.
We walked and talked with “perigrinos” from France, Catalonia, Korea, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, America and Brazil in both the English and Spanish language. Our path took us through oak forests, barley fields, olive groves and industrial zones. We saw deer, quails, partridges, hops, barley and many wild flowers. We are in love with the Camino its flora, fauna, diversity and hospitality. So watch this space for anecdotes, stories, adventures and mabye even a song.
Recently Anna, who is now an Encounters Associate, worked with Usha from Torbay Development Agency and a guy called Ryan, who was on a “work placement,” to hang the “Aging Well” photo exhibition in Torbay Hospital gallery. The show is part of a creative participatory consultation that Encounters has been delivering in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay.
Across the pond in Questa, New Mexico, Claire recently also spent many collaborative hours on a LEAP project with Connie Long, Claire’s mother and also an instructor with SEED, as well as Mariquita Rael, the art teacher for the Questa Elementary and Intermediate School. Together they worked with 188 students doing hands-on science and art about seeds. Then Claire, Connie and artist, Anita McKeown installed the resulting art show for Earth Day, “Seeds: Time Capsules of Wilderness” at Questa’s OCHO Art & Event Space.
These days of “working together” to get a job done got us thinking about day to day collaboration. Collaboration is an important theme for us, since we’ve been working collaboratively (we would venture to say successfully!) since 2007. As artists, we collaborate in a variety of ways….Onsite with people, places, creatures and things, via the internet, even telepathically at times it seems…..and of course we collaborate and live interdependently with people, places, creatures in our daily lives. Ex. It’s hard to imagine gardening without earthworms as collaborators!
We’re interested in how collaboration relates to the “Off-Grid Ethos”. Are they interrelated? Does successful or authentic off-gridding require collaboration inherently like a bee hive?! Or is being completely self-sufficient and not needing to depend on anyone else at the heart of being off-grid?
First, what is collaboration? It’s a hard word to define because there are so many possible manifestations of the word, but here’s a definition from Wikipedia:
Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals.It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, — for example, an endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.
(That last sentence seems particularly related to our inquiry into the relationship between collaboration and off-gridding, doesn’t it?)
Second, what is the “off-grid ethos”? This is even harder to define, because as you can hear in our Off-Grid Radio Dreaming Episodes, almost everyone has their own definition and associations.
What are your thoughts and experiences on collaboration and off-gridding? or
How do you collaborate and what are your experiences of off-gridding.
Our Place-dreamer pod really is lovable and willing, billed as “Self-sufficiency and the Power of Dreams” our little micro-caravan draws the attention of many curious visitors at” Renewable Energy Market Place,” the biggest energy event in the South-West of England.
At the comfortable Encounters compound visitors are invited to join the great energy debate, sitting down to “tell a story” to another visitor and climbing into the cosy interior of the pod to immerse themselves in the rich collage of music, voice and sound that is “Radio Dreaming Off-grid.”
That Artists are invited to collaborate in such an event is a great innovation and a forward looking response to the challenges of the future. The upbeat Visual minutes company documents the conference with drawn image and text and The Art and Community hub generates a tangible thrum to enliven the wider energy debate. Matt Harvey, Regen South West resident poet, David Buckland of Cape Farewell and Ruth Ben-Tovim of Encounters are among the inspiring speakers of the day who share their particular energy and vision.
Anna (representing both ClaireandAnna and Encounters) will be taking the Place-Dreamer Pod out of its Compton den on Tuesday 8th April for the Renewable Energy Market Place at Westpoint Arena, Exeter, Devon.
We were invited to participate as an exhibitor in this renewable energy expo by Chloe Uden of Regen Southwest. Billed as “Self-sufficiency and the power of dreams” our interactive art installation presents “Radio Dreaming Off-grid Part 1 & 2”, which will be playing inside the Pod as well as our expanding collection of props to spark conversations around renewable energy and sustainable lifestyles.
Some of the props visitors might stumble upon in and around the pod will include our trusty Kelly Kettle and driftwood kindling, camping gas stove, solar panels facing south, and new props to spur conversation about clean, dirty and potential fuels, ie. bottle of bluegreen algae, seaweed, turf, wood, coal, plastic, hemp oil, dandelion head, plants, fermented foods.
If you’re in the Devon area, come and check out the Pod! More info on the event here. If you’re out of range, have no fear, we’ll be doing a follow-up post rich with images for all you eager readers wanting a report on our experience.
During our first trip to the Geopark, we met with friends, Wayne and Louise Hardman, for a paddle on the lake, tea and cookies on an island and lunch at Crom Castle. It was a lovely afternoon full of interesting conversation, but our ears really perked up when we started talking with Louise about her weaving.
Lots of us are dreaming of growing edible fungi at home. Not the magic kind but the gourmet kind (though there is a bit of magic in the process of growing shitakes!) These Shitake mushrooms have been grown by homesteaders Rob Doyle and Mairead Higgins in the Leitrim hills of Ireland. Oh they are lucky!!! Shitake mushrooms have health giving-properties. We we want to grow mushrooms too.
1. Gratitude: As it is the season of “Thanksgiving” in the U.S., we would like to express our gratitude to everyone and everything (people, places, creatures and things) that have contributed to, participated in and supported DREAMING PLACE and Radio Dreaming. (Of course our thanks includes you, our readers too!)
2. Episodes: We are very pleased (and grateful) to finally be able to announce that the complete series of Radio Dreaming Episodes (including the two NEW, long awaited Off-Grid Episodes) are now available for one and all to listen to, both on radio stations and here on our site. We would love for Radio Dreaming to play on your local radio station, so if you don’t yet see your local radio station on our broadcast schedule, please let us know and we will do our best to get the series on your local station.
3. Article: Now that the Radio Dreaming Series is complete, it is making it’s way onto the airwaves and also into “the local papers.” Check out this article recently published in the ‘Tempo’ section of the Taos News. (A larger, legible view of the article is available here.)
Inspired by the technological challenges of our journey into the wilds of Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Ireland and Northern Irlealnd for DREAMING PLACE, we returned to the island of Ireland early this summer for a new and entirely different experience. This time we carried with us folding solar panels, a kelly kettle and an important question.
What’s does it mean to be off-grid ?
Its always enlightening to travel with a question, it offers a slant, a fresh perspective and gives much inspiration. As we travel invitations flood in from people eager to share their off=grid lifestyles and ideas with us so we came back with a bundle of recordings for a final episode of Radio Dreaming.
We are excited to announce that Radio Dreaming Off-grid part 1 and Radio Dreaming Off-grid part 2 is almost ready and will be coming soon.
What is it like to travel the length and breadth of Ireland in a home-built wagon?
Listen here to find out! (Note: headphones or earbuds are best for online audio!):
We are home after a month long launch journey to the homeplace of Radio Dreaming.
Inhabiting their Geopark dream has been fun, engaging and rewarding. Novel encounters with audience participants have included honey bees, Jehova Witnesses and an upturned boat.
Though we were rained on quite a bit, our big thank you to the people, places, creatures and things of Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark has left us with an inspiring afterglow.
And its definitely been worth the effort and all the hassles with funding. Our solar panels worked a treat and it has is been a fabulous way to celebrate Cultural Heritage, Geology and the Arts.
Today, 15th May we are at Green Lake on the outskirts of Cavan Town for the official opening of Green Lake from 7-9pm.
Today we are out and about. Sure it will be another enjoyable and busy day. Perhaps today the crows will be listening in as they climb the thermals on the crag and the swans may be listening from the lough.
We have been asking people at the Geopark for their definitions of Off- Gridding for our final Radio Dreaming Episode. Here are some initial responses from Louise, Judy and Marylin, who we spoke to at a Place-Dreamer Pod Tour home visit.
Today we are out and about in the Geopark, making impromptu stops at beauty spots, lakes and forests. We’ll be serving tea to passers by and inviting them to step aboard!
Today we are out and about in the Geopark. (Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark). We’ll be playing Radio Dreaming Broadcast to whoever is willing to listen!
We have been looking forward to re-visiting the cliffs of Magho, for its panoramic views across 5 counties, from Donegal bay to County Tyrone and Fermanagh. Our first morning off was experienced in Fermanagh time slowly and luxuriously after our busy rush of appointments and visits.
Yesterday we visited Rob Doyle and Mairead at their off-grid cottage. After an amazing breakfast in their cosy home we had a tour of their homestead and its off-grid features, including a wind turbine, a water turbine, shitake mushroom plantation, sustainable woodland for coppicing, fantastic homebuilt stove heating system, a veg patch, chickens.
This week we started off the Radio Dreaming Pod Tour in Cavan town outside the Courthouse, town centre carpark and Bullock Art Centre.
Many of you stopped by on the way out of court to work or the library to admire the pod, climb aboard the pod for a listen or to respond to some of our Place-dreamer props. We heard some wonderful and inspiring stories about boglands,wild food, and hair rinses. And some of you stopped by for tea with us. Up on the hill traveler children came out to look at our wee caravan and ask for CDs of our episodes for their grannys and grandads. After an interview with local Cavan TV, we were invited on to a boat rally. Tea and sandwiches and many stories later later we finished up at Sally’s house to rescue a drowned boat from the lake!
Radio Dreaming Pod Tour: Marble Arch Caves Geopark, Éire/Northern Ireland
25 April – 17 May 2013 Claire Coté (New Mexico) and Anna Keleher (Devon)
Part listening booth, part Place-Dreamer tool-kit, Anna and Claire’s roving off-grid installation features voices of Marble Arch Caves Geopark. A 5-part radio adventure, Radio Dreaming whisks you over-ground and underground in search of edible landscapes, wild dreams and myths of the land. Visitors to the Pod are invited to share a pot of tea, step aboard to listen or simply to dream.
Catch the pod at MAC visitor Centre 5th May 10am-5pm, Enniskillen Castle Museum courtyard, Mon 6th May 10am-5pm, Green Lake opening 15th May, 7-9pm Cavan town or look out for the Place-Dreamer Pod as it tours to off-grid locations in Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim through 17th or May.
Visit www.dreamingplace.eu/pod for info and venue updates.
We gave a little background about Ignatius Maguire in our recent post, “Transformation of Materials: Part 1, It Starts with Choice”. In this post, we move into the knowledge and Action that makes our choices real.
When we visited Ignatius’ farm he took the time to describe and demonstrate to us the whole process of “bringing in the hay”, a very relevant example of transforming a renewable material into something used by farmers all over the world to feed their animals.
Ignatius makes scything look easy. When we try it, it takes us a whilte to get into the rhythm and when we do, we feel the muscles that we would need to do the job all day long.
He also shows us how he “shakes his hay” and forms it into rucks. Anna tries her hand at shaking hay:
After he forms the hay into neat rucks set to dry, Ignatius creates rope ties to hold the hay rucks in place and prevent them from blowing away in the wind. He spins hay from the base of the pile into rope, using a special tool, sort of like a crank-spindle made from the handle of a bucket:
We try spinning as well – it’s like magic and we feel sort of like Rumplestiltskin spinning our very own gold:
Ignatius chooses to process his hay in this way and enjoys it. He holds a wealth of knowledge that he keeps alive through daily use. He is fit and healthy and has an incredibly close relationship with his family’s land because of this choice. It is no doubt a lot of hard work, but Ignatius’ relationship to his land, seems to us to be one clear example of “Dreaming Place.”
Recently we’ve been thinking about transforming renewable materials around us into things that we use in our lives and how that process is an important element in our Place -Dreamer Toolkit. We have discussed this idea in previous posts about string HERE and hidden technologies HERE.
Because we are fascinated by these simple, but ingenious technologies and processes, we’ve been revisiting our unique time with Ignatius Maguire on his family farm. Including his grandchildren, his family has been on the land for eight generations.
He gave us an extensive tour of the grounds and the traditional, human-powered technologies and farm practices that he chooses to use to keep it all going. He is unlike most of his farming neighbors who have opted for more modern methods to harvest hay, plant potatoes and grow grain. Like that of Margaret Gallagher (see our post about her HERE), his dream for his life is shaped and colored differently than most.
Here, he describes his simple reasons for his chosen life-style:
Ignatius is a good reminder that we all have choices about what lives we want to lead, what technologies we want to use in our lives and for some of us, what processes, tools and technologies we choose to use to transform raw materials into things we can use in our lives.
Look for the second half of this post, coming soon – “Transformation of Materials: Part 2, Knowledge and Action” featuring more of Ignatius describing the traditional practices that he uses on his farm.
Great news! Our Pod is really coming together. We’ve just had an update from Nigel of Diddyvans Teardrop Trailers. His mate, Rob, has been over to help him put on the Pod’s aluminium “skin”. The wood-burner has been roaring, but even so the freezing weather has meant the varnish has taken an age to dry.
We just love that our off-grid Place-Dreamer Pod will be energy self-sufficient. We’re so looking forward to road testing it. The comfy listening suite inside will be powered by two leisure batteries stowed under the “Pod’s kitchen” hatch. The batteries will be charged by two portable solar panels and on grey days (for which Ireland is famous of course!) through a special plug fitted along with the tow-bar to draw surplus energy from the battery of our towing van, keeping the Pod batteries topped up as we drive from venue to venue.
What d’you think of it so far?
Help us launch our tour by contributing to our Kickstarter Campaign here!
Exploring methods of slow travel and off-gridding are important elements of our Place-Dreamer toolkit. During our DREAMING PLACE residency at Marble Arch Caves, we were fortunate to happen across a couple of experienced slow travel and off-gridding experts on “The Puzzler” – Andy, Sally and Catkin Rawnsley, who we already introduced to you on our blog here and here. (You can learn even more about them and their slow travels here.)
“The Puzzler” is a bespoke narrowboat outfitted beautifully, as pictured below, for comfortable living and traveling on waterways. With plans on the horizon for our own Dreaming Place bespoke travel vehicle (more to come on that soon!), we are re-examining our interviews with Andy and Sally with great interest.
Using space creatively and effectively is one of the most important (and most fun!) aspects of kitting out a mobile vehicle such as The Puzzler. We asked Sally and Andy what their favorite piece of kit was and this is what they told us this:
As they showed us how each step of their little staircare holds a handy storage compartment. Genius!