Homer's Travels: May 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Seven Week Hiatus

I will not be posting to Homer's Travels while I'm walking the Camino.  I expect to be exhausted at the end of the day and the idea of finding a computer with internet in some small farm town along the Camino just doesn't sound appealing.  I considered posting updates on Facebook when I got the chance but the more I thought about it the less appealing it became.

I'm walking the Camino to experience a new country, a new culture, a new history, and I feel the need to be disconnected from my old world while I do this.  Hiking has always been a way for me to get away from the "world" and exchange the sounds of civilization with those of nature.  Getting away from the whole social network thing seems like a wise thing to do for the next seven weeks.

I won't be totally incommunicado as I will be sending emails to the Wife when I have the opportunity.  She will be spreading it around the family and friends.  My blog friends will have to wait a while before I get caught up on posting - think beginning of August.

The past couple of days have been filled with me being obsessed in planning for all contingencies.  Sometime Monday I realized that I just have to relax and stop making more plans - I'm all planned out.  Most of the plans I have are for things that will never happen and the things that will happen, whatever they turn out to be, will be impossible to plan for.  I just have to let it be.

So, I hope you all have a great seven weeks.  Wish me luck.

I have a plane to catch.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Book: Tamim Ansary's "Destiny Disrupted"

My last read before I leave the country for a while was Tamim Ansary's "Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World through Islamic Eyes."  It was kind of timely with me finishing the book during all the death of Osama bin Laden hoopla.

I chose this book because I realized I knew very little about the Muslim world and their history.  With 9/11, Afghanistan  Iraq, and all the other Middle East turmoil of the last ten years, shame on me for not reading up on it sooner.  Ansary, born in Afghanistan and living in the United States, wanted to write a history of the world that was not interpreted through a western perspective.  I have to admit that most of my history is very Euro-American-centric and this book broadened my views.  He wrote in an imminently accessible and even-handed way which came across as fair and balanced (Not Faux news fair and balanced but actually fair and balanced).

Ansary's style is what I would call laid back and not stuck in academic language.  The book reads more like a novel than a history book.  It almost sounds like your sitting in his living room and he's telling you the story of the Muslim world.  It covers the history from the life of Mohammed up to 2009 when the book was published.  It felt though while not too in depth, if you know what I mean.  It didn't get bogged down my minutiae.

Highly recommended.  You may learn something.

One more thought.  Ansary is an Afghan living in Texas writing high school history books.  Do you think a Muslim would get that job today in Texas?  I wonder.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Camino de Santiago: Traveling Companions

A week or so back I went geocaching and I ended up picking up a geocoin ("Hazard - Perry County Tour III Geocoin").  This gave me an idea.

A few years back I bought four travel bug tags.  One was used for the "Polar Explorer" and another was used for the "Walking Sister".  (I mentioned these bugs before here and here.)  Sadly, both of these bugs have since vanished along with my first ("The Mind Wanders...").  One has been confirmed lost (The guy who lost it apologized) and the other two are in hands of people who don't respond to their email.

After picking up the geocoin, I decided to use the remaining two travel bug tags to make new bugs that I'll release in Spain.  Also, each time you buy a bug tag, you get a copy so I used the copy of the Walking Sister's tag to recreate it and it will also be released in Spain.  Along with the geocoin and the new, improved "Walking Sister", I will be taking "Dirty Red Plastic Monkey" and "Pilgrims Companion".  If you've been reading Homer's Travels for a long time you may remember the Dirty Red Plastic Monkey from this post.  The Pilgrim's Companion is a small Lego Figure that I found on a beach near Ventura, California.

So I will be dropping three bugs and one geocoin in Spain.  I'll be loading nine geocaches in my GPS - six in Santiago de Campostela and three in Finisterre.  I will be putting the bugs in caches at the end on my Camino so that it is not an extra distraction during the Camino.  Hopefully the Europeans will be more generous with my travel bugs and not lose them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Camino De Santiago: T-7

I'm a week away from the start of my Camino adventure and I'm starting to freak out a bit.  It only happens in those quiet moments when I let my thoughts get away from me and run wild.  I'm sure it will only get worse and the days tick down.

Last week the Wife's school held a charity event called HawkWalk.  It's a five mile walk from the school to lake Zorinsky, around the lake, and back again.  She suggested I use this as a dry run for my full pack.  I packed my bag the night before filling it with all the stuff I'll be carrying across northern Spain.  The weight ended up higher than I'd calculated but less than I expected.  I calculated 19.1 lbs (8.66 kg) and ended up with 22.4 lbs (10.16 kg) which was better that the 25 lbs (11.34 kg) I expected.  I suspect the unexpected weight is from three things: (1) the empty backpack is heavier than I expected (I used the specs, I should have actually weighed it); (2) The toiletries and sundry items weigh more that I expected (I have quite a few of these sundries - earplugs, safety pins, nail clippers, and so much more.  The good thing is most of these are consumables that will diminish in weight as they are used); and (3) the extra bag (a duffle bag to pack my backpack and stuff for making checking the bag easier).

The extra bag is something I expected I may need but kept forgetting to add to the packing list.  A backpack is not exactly made to be checked baggage.  The various straps and cords would easily catch on things resulting and a mangled bag by the time it reached its destination.  To fix this I will be putting my backpack, along with most of my stuff, in a small duffle bag that we bought for our Peru trip.  The bag, fully loaded, fits tightly in the duffle.  I will probably take stuff out of the backpack to make it easier on the homeland security guys when the go through my bag and repack once I get to Spain.  My camera, GPS, and a few other items will be in a smaller, disposable bag that I will carry on.

The HawkWalk went well.  The pack did feel a lot heavier than I expected but I got used to it after a short while.  I felt a little self-conscious while I was doing the walk.  I was the only one carrying a full pack and wearing a Tilley hat.  Some of the students asked the Wife the next day who that Indiana Jones looking guy was.  I'm not sure if I should take this as a compliment or not.  I doubt they thought I was cool.  More likely ... weird.

I won't feel so strange in Spain as I expect to be walking with a lot of people looking just like me.  Heck, we may be a whole herd of Indiana Joneses.  Stinky, smelly, dirty, achy, and probably bitchy, Indiana Joneses.