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Greetings All,

After much trial and error trying to get these photos up on the blog, I think they’re good to go. Hope you enjoy them!

Be Well,

Jake

 

Where it all began. The albergue in St. Jean Pied de Port.

  Some gear drying out after a downpour.

Some of our gear drying after a downpour.

Two historic castles, sitting in a farm field outside Pamplona.

  

  An impending storm over more Spanish farmland.

Me and some pilgrim friends at an albergue.

  

     One of the many breathtaking cathedrals along the Road.

More walking-mates, in a church/albergue.

  

A poor photo of the end of the pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostela

The walk to the Atlantic from Santiago.

  

The end of a 32-day journey, at Cape Finisterre, Spain.

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Greetings All,

After 32 days of travel across Northern Spain on foot, I arrived at Cape Finisterre, so named because of its root words, finis and terra, which indicate that this spot is the end of the earth. And, as the Western-most point on the European continent, it was long thought to be just that. A fitting place to end a month-long westwardly walk.

Now, though, I write to you all from the comfort of my Living Room, a luxury all Camino-goers must be without in the cramped albergues–hostels provided exclusively for pilgrims. Don’t get me wrong, those albergues aren’t half bad, and some of them are quite nice. But it’s hard to get any personal space when you are in a giant bedroom full of bunkbeds which are soon to cradle snoring old Germans who, while charming during waking hours, are quite a pain at night. I’ve never heard snores like those, not even from my freshman roommate.

One of the many lessons to garner from the Camino is to appreciate the luxuries, the blessings, and the privileges of our everyday lives, such as a room to ourselves. Or having running water whenever I want it. Or being able to choose from many different types of cuisine, as opposed to picking either baguette and butter, or baguette and cheese. Or having wardrobe of clothes, as opposed to having only Dirty Hiking Outfit and Dirty Town Outfit. Or even the opportunity to force myself to abandon the luxuries, blessings, and privileges of my everyday life.

But, being back in New York, back to my more regular lifestyle, there are many parts of the Camino that I wish to bring back with me. Like the immediate camaraderie that all pilgrims feel on the Road, which is such a positive and connecting force. The sights in Spain were stunning at every turn. Finally, the change in pace, from a fun but fast Bates semester to a much simpler and slower drive, provided so many goods for me and other pilgrims. We all had the chance to think, the chance to re-evaluate, and the opportunity to rest our minds by doing something that required almost no thought whatsoever–just walk forward.

So now I am back. I’ve only been in for one day, so not only do I not know exactly what I’m up to, but I also don’t have any pictures back from the trip. I’ll work on that. Besides that, my To Do list for the summer holds: get ready for the return to Bates (i.e. start reading for thesis), set up stuff for the Deansmen (the oldest all-male a cappella group on campus–have I mentioned them before?), and begin preparing for the First Year Seminar I am co-teaching. How many weeks of summer left?

Be Well,

Jake

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Greetings All,

El Camino de Santiago brings a brand new meaning to the concept of a ¨road trip¨for me. As I mentioned in my last post, I´m right now traveling across the entirety of Northern Spain on foot along the ancient pilgrimage road that leads to Santiago de Compostela. The city holds the remains of Santiago, or Saint James, one of the disciples. So, for this next post, I bring you a view of my journey across Spain. It´s not exactly a slice of life at Bates, but it certainly is a slice of life thanks to Bates, since the money for this trip came entirely from the Phillips Fellowship that I received from Bates.

As I said, the Camino is historically a Catholic trail, but in the 17 days that I´ve been walking I have found mostly other seekers somewhat like myself, who do not identify as Catholic, or even as Christian, but who walk the Camino for other reasons. Interestingly, most people who I´ve spoken with–and they come from all over the world–are at major junctures in their lives, and are walking to create space in their heads, so that they can make a more informed decision about their next step. Not completely unlike one of my goals for this trip. For example, one of my friends on the road, a young South Korean, is literally 3 weeks out of his mandatory 2-year stint in the South Korean army, and is getting his first real taste of freedom in many months here in Spain. He´s not sure about how to continue at school, and is hoping to figure out a few things here.

There are so many characters on the Road, some of them totally loony, but I´m consistently amazed by everyone I meet. This older French guy was nice enough to give me half a bottle of wine after he had had his fill. Another time, these two chatty Spanish ladies (I speak no Spanish, by the way), were talking a mile a minute while informing me that the hostel I thought was up ahead did not exist, and so called their friend with a car and gave me a little lift to the next town, and then toured me around its sights! Awesome.

After 500 km of walking, I´ve seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life, without question. The landscape here is bursting with history, unlike anything we have back in the U.S. There are old ruins from times long since passed all over the place, just lying about in fields or in old neighborhoods alongside computer stores and laundromats. The cathedrals are so impressive, be it because of their delicately and intricately carved exteriors, their ornate interior worship nooks, or at the other end of the scale because of their spartan character. You don´t have to be Christian to be moved. And, of course, the Spanish countryside is beyond description, so I won´t really try here. I´ve been taking pictures, but I forgot a legit camera, so I´ve been using disposables. If any of the photos end up being worth it, I will post them when I return to the states.

I´ve got 300 km to go on this journey, and no more time for internet in this hostel, so I must be off. Until next time!

Be Well,

Jake

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Greetings All,

Well, it’s all over now. After a pretty packed Short Term, semester, year, I am back at home sitting on my real bed writing to you all. It feels really good. My mother and I made the 5-hr drive back to Katonah, NY in pretty good time, and when I got back I said Hi to my family, napped for 5 hours, ate dinner, and went to bed. Gotta recharge the batteries.

Short Term wrapped up very nicely. As I mentioned, I was working really hard on my two plays. Well, Gilgamesh, the one outside of Bates, was a huge hit! I’ll throw some photo’s in at the bottom of this post. But what I’m a bit more proud of is my one-man show that I did as an Independent Study class over Short Term. I worked with a friend and a professor to create a working script, rehearse it, block it, light it, dress it, the whole deal, and then put it up in Black Box Theater on campus. And you know what? People really liked it! A very rewarding experience all around, and I got class credit for it. Nice.

Now, though, I’m not doing much of anything. This is, of course, the calm before the storm, the respite before my next big adventure. You see, in the beginning of Second Semester, right after I got back from abroad, I decided to apply for a grant, the Phillips Fellowship, through Bates. My plan: to walk el Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage trail that traverses northern Spain. My goal: to understand why a traditionally Catholic pilgrimage has begun to attract pilgrims who don’t identify as Catholics, or even as a particular religion (like myself), yet still walk it.

I am super stoked about this trip, and it is right around the corner. My flight out of the country leaves on the 29th of May (real soon), so right now I’m resting and preparing my body and my gear for a big journey. But the kicker of it all is that this grant I received from Bates covers the whole trip! Really nice.

Be Well,

Jake

P.S. Here are some photos of Gilgamesh, as promised:

 

This is me as Enkidu, the wild man of the steppe, and that’s Gilgamesh and I battling.

 

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