Published: October 26th 2007
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Just a smileJust a smileJust a smile

Thanks for reading!
Okay, so first I want to say thank you to all my friends from around the world who called or wrote to ask if I was safe from the fires here in San Diego. Thankfully I am and I could help people who were not.

Secondly, I am enetering this essay contest. It has to be "a 300-word essay on a travel experience that moved you, excited you or changed you." Obviously, I chose the Camino. Will you please read this and tell me if you think it is any good. Writing is not a particular strong point, but the prize is an assignment with National Geographic Traveler to Mongolia for a 10 day trip to see for the centuries old Naadam Festival, the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians out on the Steepes. Then you get to write an article about the trip for the magazine! Dont spare anything, the stakes are high so let me know what you honestly think. Right now the essay is exactly 300 words. Oh and a special thanks to Dominick from Germany for the last line!
this isonly a first draft so please tell me what you think.

This summer I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, known in English as the Way of Saint James. People would ask me why I wanted to walk 800 kilometers across Spain. I have no idea was the only answer I could give. Now I know that the journey without reflects the journey within.
The traditional starting point is the French village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port at the base of the Pyrenees eight kilometers from the Spanish border. I did not set out on a spiritual journey, but I ended up being on one. Perhaps that is the magic of the Camino. I started eagerly, my backpack full of useful items like extra socks and nutritional bars. I was going to conquer the Pyrenees and finish the Camino in record time. About three hours later I was giving away my nutrition bars, leaving socks at way markers, and thinking about what else I could leave behind. The mountain had taught me humility, and it was not even noon yet.
The Camino is a mirror that reflects the way you live. What I saw was someone who rushed ahead, never listened, and was too full of pride to ask for help. So I slowed my pace, and looked around me. The mountains taught me about strength and peace. The empty vistas of the mesas revealed the quiet beauty of solitude. The people I met shared their love and I opened my own heart. I discovered the person I really am and that person is better than I imagined. By the time I reached Santiago, I knew it was only the beginning, not the end. Each day is a continuation of my Camino and I walk it with the strength, peace, and love I found. The Camino is life, and life is the Camino.


26th October 2007

Beautiful !
Hi Ginger, I'm glad to hear from you ! I'm so swamped with homework from school, that I'd gladly go back to the Camino right away :-) I read your text and it made me remember some of the lessons that I learned along the way. I really liked the way you worded your experience, specially in middle to the end. Since you asked, if I was ever to change anything, maybe it would be the first paragraph and the first line of the second one. I think those don't reflect the up beat and full power Ginger energy ;-) Anyway, good luck with the contest and take care ! Hélio (Montréal)
27th October 2007

hey ginger. I always like reflections on travel. my friend suzy put together a really great zine about her travels that I think you would really like. its about learning and dealing with priviledge and reflections on the personal reasons why she travels. sorry I am not much of an editor, but your essay made me think of this phrase from the zapatista communities about change and time. its real simple. "preguntando caminamos" or walking we ask questions. okay cuidate un chingo
27th October 2007

Fantastic recall
hey ginger, nice to hear from you and glad to hear you are safe from the fires. Your text on the Camino was right on--since you only have 300 words very limited. Most people I talk to have never heard of the Camino, then I mention that people have been doing this pilgrimage for over 1000 years and it is quite an ordeal, they are a little curious. You survived mtns, wind, cold, and many dicey dorm envirornments. I wish good luck with your contest and your studies. I was in Mongolia for Naadam '97, was there a month and it was too short. keep in touch, and make sure you get your BM tickets early. Your Bud, Cinnamon
2nd November 2007

good luck amigo
Hi Ginger, well done. I especially like the last paragraph. Nice to see comments from other camino travellers too. Looking forward to seeing you in 2008, Hope you win girlfriend! Lara
3rd December 2007

Hiya Ginger! What an inspiring read - and that is 100% honest. It really sums up the experience and considering you only have 300 words I think you have done it succinctly!! hope you ave a fabulous holiday season and are taking good care of your special soul!

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