Phil’s Camino

Tonight at the Gathering of Pilgrims, to round out the night, they showed a film to us about one man’s journey to complete the Camino. This man, Phil, was diagnosed with cancer and, per his doctors, will more than likely perish from this. I will admit that heart strings were pulled and tears were shed as I watched this short film. It was, simply, beautiful.

The film (which you can find here and on Facebook) was partly brought into fruition through the machinations of one of my fellow hospitaleras. It was actually shown at the SXSW festival earlier this year for you Austin types. My new acquaintance is the one on the far left; the director, who spoke about her film, is on the far right.

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Makin’ films and history

This film, Phil’s Camino, tells the very moving tale about a man destined to die yet is determined to finish his walk to Santiago. I really cannot express enough how beautiful this is to me. My mother had breast cancer (yet she beat the ever living shit out of it) so this film really hit home for me. Perhaps it was the wine, more than likely the heart strings being tugged, but this was the first film in a very long time to make me shed some saline. It is moving to watch his family and friends support his decision to walk, and very possibly die, on Camino.

Even in his finite time on the Earth, Phil seizes the day and strides forth, walking about the Camino as he fulfills his pledge even as cancer ravages his body. This documentary film showcases one of the many reasons people take to Camino and how that affects them and their loved ones back home. It is very well done, and the fact that the crew were in tow available for questioning made it even more endearing.

Through tears and broken voice, I hugged the director and her staff, thanking them for their incredible film and the potential impact it would have on future (and past) pilgrims. Yes, my mother survived the cancer, but what family isn’t touched by this horrendous decay? In Phil’s Camino, they brought life to death and made a memorable film for people to enjoy, or rather, take heed.

Go. Go forth and seize that day. Take to Camino, take to the road, and seize whatever day you’ve set aside for yourself. There is no time like the present, so it goes, and you never know when the Reaper comes. In that regard, go. Just go.

If you can spare a few bucks, please donate to this film and get the message out. It’s a worthy investment, a beautiful tale, and something worth spreading.

And So It Begins

After a final night of schmoozing and drinking with the family, I boarded my first plane at approximately 6AM to begin the next chapter in my wandering lifestyle. My heart was heavy for I was leaving a great many things behind me – the sort of things a man doesn’t want to let go of – but my journey had to begin with this first step.

Two flights and a train ride later, here I am in Illinois at the Our Lady of the Snows chapel, ready to begin some hospitalero training courtesy of the American Pilgrims on the Camino. Already I’ve met a smattering of delightful folks I’m eager to spend the week with – seems like plenty of stories to be heard and shared. It has been a hell of a day and I’m quite an exhausted monkey, but I felt the need to share my thoughts (and packing list) before I became too embroiled in the week’s upcoming events.

Without further ado, let us go over The Packing List.

11 pounds of things I probably don’t need

The bag pictured to the left holds all of my gear for the next few months (excluding the things I’ll be wearing day-to-day). It’s a nice bag, an REI model in the M/L range my brother was kind enough to let me borrow. The rain cover was a bit dull so I spruced it up with a positive message: To the ends of the Earth. Because, really, this bag is going places.

In all, I am carrying the following and justifying them thusly:

  • 2 Pairs of Clothing (Shirts, socks, pant/short combo, and drawers)
  • 1 Rain Coat (ponchos are too heavy and cumbersome; this pulls double duty in colder temperatures)
  • 1 Hippie Blanket (a silly sheet you find at Ren Faires you can fold into various articles of clothing; versatile, lightweight, and fits any occasion)
  • Hiking Boots and Jesus Sandals (walk hard, play hard)
  • 1 Hat and Bandanna (they go on my head)
  • 1 Microfiber Towel (lightweight, dries fast, doubles as an extra blanket)
  • 1 ASUS T100 2-in-1 Tablet (the better to blog with)
  • 1 Fujifilm XP80 Camera (to inundate you with photos; also impervious to much of Nature’s wrath)
  • 2 leather-bound journals (one to keep track of personal thoughts and reflections, the other to document Camino itself and her nuances)
  • Toiletries (duh)
  • 1 Fanny Pack (replete with cash, passports, paper, and exclusive Euro vibes)
  • 1 Canteen (you put water in it)

And that’s it. Everything, excluding the water, comes out to approximately 11 pounds. A good rule of thumb for long distance hiking is to carry about 10% of your weight max. Me being a fatass, that number would be closer to 17 pounds; however, my being a badass ensures this number is far lower and easier to carry. Trust me – you don’t need most things you think you might need when you’re out and about. As my brother said, “Ounces equal poundses.” You have to carry every last ounce so be mindful of that when packing.

After months of planning and prepping, hell, it is difficult to believe the day has finally arrived. Will some days suck? Absolutely. Will my fatbody protest in impotent rage? Of course. Will the experience be worth it? Damn right.

Now then, I am off to find some grub that isn’t coffee, shave my pathetic neckbeard, and hopefully get myself a nap. Until next time, comrades.

Oh and here’s the cutest picture you’ll see today:

Great Oma with her nephew.
Great Oma with her nephew.