New York City

My plane touched down at New York’s JFK airport on Thursday evening. In the terminal I stopped to strap my sleeping bag to the top of my pack for better weight distribution before moving on to the carousel to grab my suitcase full of pre-trip clothing, which I’ll leave here when I fly to Madrid.

I waited at the subway platform. Nearby a large family of very orthodox Jews stood. Father and sons had shaved heads except for the curls hanging from their temples. The family was entirely dressed in black. One of the daughters dutifully carried her father’s hat box; the hat on his head was like a giant fur halo in black. They spoke only Hebrew.

Another couple standing nearby spoke Italian, and another Portuguese. One girl I talked to briefly spoke hesitant English in a French accent. The diversity was a welcome reminder of where I was, and a precursor to where I will be soon.

I boarded the Manhattan-bound A Train. Continue reading

Home

For me, although the road to Santiago begins in St. Jean Pied de Port, my camino begins here in the house where I grew up. I landed in Fort Lauderdale airport, momentarily surprised by the warmth and humidity of the South Florida night as I stepped off of the plane and onto the jetway. My parents were waiting for me at the terminal’s exit. The full moon was bright in the sky as we drove home.

My parents have been supportive of my plan to walk, as they’ve been supportive of me all my life. That’s not to say that they completely understand why I want to go (how would they if I don’t?) — my mom wonders aloud how they managed to raise a son who thinks walking 500 miles qualifies as a good time! My aunt takes credit (or blame?) because she once ran away from her home in New York on a Greyhound bus to Florida.

It was late when I arrived, but for me it felt three hours earlier. So after they went to sleep I stayed up to watch the full lunar eclipse. In Earth’s shadow the moon swirled red and black in the sky next to a teensy tiny supermassive blue giant star, while Mars glowed brightly off to the right. What a tease, no?

The next day included more preparation. The undersheet, sleeping bag, pillowcase, and frame pack needed a coat of permethrin to guard against bedbugs. I sprayed the sleeping bag’s compression sack with water sealant, because I’ve gone to sleep in a rain-soaked sleeping bag before and left it a scathing Yelp review. Continue reading