JabbaPapa (Julian) has been a contributor to this blog pretty much right from the start.
I have enormous respect for him. Highly educated and world wise, he has a fierce intellect. As a pilgrim, he’s the “real deal.”
He lives in Monaco, and found Christianity, or at least it found him, in very tumultuous circumstances just outside of Astorga on one very arduous pilgrimage some twenty years ago.
He’s the kind of bloke I could sit and talk to for hours.
He’s done several Caminos – his first in 1993, his second in 1994, his third in 2005, and he did a pilgrimage to Rome in 2000. When he first walked the Camino in 1993 – 21 years ago – it must have been vastly different to what it is today.
He’s had problems with his knees, but he’s been undergoing physiotherapy and will soon be heading off on another pilgrimage which he estimates will take him 1700kms – from Lourdes to Santiago and back to St. Jean Pied de Port; or at least as far as his knees will carry him.
I asked him if he’d like to post on this blog – before, during and after his pilgrimage. This is for purely selfish reasons, because I’ll be fascinated to follow his journey, and to get his unique perspective on what he sees, what he thinks, and what he experiences.
Here now is a post which he’s just sent through… and as with all guest posts, I don’t edit other than to fix typos and format – I put up guest posts as they’re presented to me. I’m delighted to host the first of many (hopefully) of Julian’s post here…
GUEST POST: JULIAN LORD –
Bill has kindly offered me the use of some space on his blog so that I can write up some stuff about my forthcoming pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, as he thinks that these sorts of details and stories and thoughts will be of interest to others ; though I can’t promise updates on a daily basis — I’ll see how things go when I’m actually on-Camino.
I have been thinking though that it’s best to start early, and I was also growing increasingly uncomfortable with taking up so much space on Bill’s own blog posts concerning his own very different affairs.
Many of Bill’s regulars know me already, but others in his readership may not, so I’d better start with some presentation of myself :
My name is Julian Lord, and I’m going to walk from Lourdes to Santiago — I will also TRY and walk from Santiago to Saint Jean Pied de Port. That’s the important stuff !! 🙂
Otherwise, I’m also a long-term English expat living on the French Riviera, just above Monaco (where I grew up), and I have been on several pilgrimages — three times so far to Santiago, and once to Rome.
I’m one of those so-called “true pilgrims” LOL, though I think I prefer the term “purist”, as there’s a negative conotation in there beside the positive, so that people can make of me what they will.
The two major pilgrimages I’ve done so far have both been to Compostela — from Paris in 1994, ultra-fast at 44 days and nearly 40 KM/day average ; from Monaco in 2005 and part of the way back from Santiago, 2400 KM total, which was the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage from home that I wouldn’t ever want to repeat … not even now that the Peregrino bug is back in my system with its full virulence !!!
I live basically a stone’s throw away from an Ancient pilgrim’s Way leading to both Compostela and Rome, and La Turbie, just uphill, is the convergence point of three Roman roads, as well as the natural border between Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul —
Day one up there in 2005 was the toughest climb of that whole Camino, because by the time I reached SJPP I had over 1000 KM in the legs … we do see many pilgrims going to Rome around here, though there are still more of them that are making their way to Compostela.
I am a convert to Catholicism from Agnosticism, having converted on the Camino in 1994 following supernatural experiences ; I have a first class Master’s Degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne, earned as a mature student ; I’m struggling with arthrosis, similar to Bill’s, but also with some nasty chronic depression and long-term unemployment.
The plan for my coming pilgrimage is to start from Lourdes, most likely on 11th August, then to follow a fairly unusual route — that I’m hoping will keep my knees happy and functional … 🙂
From Lourdes, I’ll be avoiding the beautiful but uselessly difficult GR route (which I’ve walked already), and instead walk more easily in the valleys towards Oloron, and from there on up to the Somport.
I’ll decide whether to take the tunnel or make the 8 KM climb up to the Pass when I get there, following what my PGS will tell me. From there on, fairly straightforwardly to Puente La Reina, then on to Burgos, Leon and Astorga along the Camino Francès.
I will leave the Francès at Astorga, and take the more northerly alternate route to Ponferrada, around the mountains rather than over them — I live on a mountain, and so have daily reminders that walking in them is a bad idea for me.
Then from Ponferrada, I’ll follow the Camiño de Invierno to Santiago — thus avoiding not just the mountains at O Cebreiro, but also the mad press of the crowds from Sarría onwards …
After that, I will attempt the walk back to France — along the Francès, to Saint Jean Pied de Port — I will possibly go via O Cebreiro on the way back, as the ascension is much easier on the Galicia side, but such details of the attempted return journey will be decided in Santiago itself.
Howsoever far I am able to walk on the return journey, I will try and walk for at least two months, then see how far I’ll be able to make it, and leave such decisions as these to my PGS when I get there …
The return trip from Santiago to SJPP is however something I’ve been wanting to do since 1993 — yes, ideally, one walks from home to home via Compostela ; but that’d be 4000 KM, would take something like 8 months, and the walk to Jerusalem would be shorter !!!
My knees will be as much my enemy as Bill has found in his — I have been having physiotherapy sessions for the past couple of months, that have been extremely helpful — thank heavens — and my left knee is starting to feel virtually normal again.
The right knee is back to its usual degree of pain, rather than twice as bad — and my doctor will be giving me a round of injections starting this week, which should be very helpful.
Our friend Steve gave Bill some excellent advice some months ago on the blog, to get a second brace for a knee that doesn’t need one — he said that just one knee brace causes imbalance in your walking, and creates problems later for your legs, joints, and feet.
I’ve not yet done much walking with both braces, but MY, was he 100% right, and MY, does it improve hiking balance !!!