BootsnAll Travel Network

an adventure for 2014

It was Easter 2013 that we I had a crazy idea.
PapaBear had gone off to camp with the older kids and had a face-to-face encounter with God and came home expecting MamaBear (me) to suggest we adopt a dozen babies from Africa. I rather suspect he would have been up for the challenge. But with half the family away I had had time to think and had hatched my own plan, albeit a much simpler one.
You’ve got to know that we adopted into our family two little kids from Togo last year – that is to say, we sponsor them, but our biological kids talk about them as much as each other, so they are family now. And even before we’d done that, we’d talked with our GP one day. We had visited him with a broken toe or something and came away with broken hearts. He had just returned from his latest trip to Africa and talked passionately about what he believes is the single biggest problem in Africa – the long treks women make to collect (often impure) water. He reckoned if you could give access to clean water, you could change their lives completely. Of course, we already knew that, but it took his compassionate account to compel me to action. I asked the kids to consider what we could do to help the situation. I asked God to lead our thoughts.
I came across “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – may I encourage you to read this one? It is a life-changing book. It’s almost certain that if you have access to that book, you are living in a position of privilege, and for me, it made me want to use my position to bless others.
As a family we read aloud Katie Davis’ “Kisses from Katie” and our hearts swelled more for the people of Africa.
Some Christmas money went towards digging a well. We welcomed Komi and Dagan into our family. But we could still do more.
I discovered charity: water. I spent Easter reading every page on their website and my idea took shape.

“What if I went back to the Camino and walked 1,000km to raise money for a water project in Africa?” I suggested to PapaBear.
I needed him to know this was a Serious Suggestion:

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And over the next few months the dream grew. We decided the younger boys (who will be 11 and 13 when we go) would be invited. They didn’t hesitate.They were in.
Then the little girls (the youngest will turn 8 soon after leaving NZ, the other will be 10) wondered aloud why they couldn’t go.
Too far, too hard.
“But we walked last year – and I did it with a broken arm and I never complained,’ Tgirl pointed out.
Can you argue with that? Would you even want to?

So we started looking at routes. How to make 1,000km along various camino paths. All roads lead to Rome, but we were going to Santiago, and there are a lot of roads that go there too. We’ve ended up with the following proposal.

Lboy13 and Mboy11 will accompany me to Madrid at the end of April. We’ll take a bus to Pamplona and walk through the Pyrenees to Bayonne in France on the Camino Baztan. 110km Done.
Then we’ll head down to Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, which is a semi-official-ish starting point for the main Camino route, the Camino Frances. That will be 67km on the Voie de la Nive (and no, I don’t speak French apart from baguette and merci, but my linguistic detective work tells me the Nive is the name of a river and “voie” is probably “path” – googletranslate provides confirmation. And I have a map and compass, so we’ll be right. Besides, it’s only a hand span on the map)
When we leave Saint Jean for our second take at the Pyrenees, PapaBear will leave Auckland with the two younger girls. If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in Pamplona on the same day, and we’ll have done another 70km. The girls will have missed the hardest stretch with compulsory longer stages. (by the way, you can zoom in on the map and scroll around if you really want to)

PapaBear has two weeks with us and we’ll blitz along as far as we can, trying to find the balance between enjoying our time together and covering some decent distances. Then he’ll hop on a train bound for Madrid airport (and ultimately, home), and the rest of us will walk due west towards Santiago. But we won’t keep going that way. We have already walked the last 300km of that route, and so when we get to Leon, we’ll sidestep northwards through the mountains on the Camino del Salvador. When that finishes, we’ll continue on the Camino Primitivo……and a good way along that route we will hit the 1,000km mark. Hopefully we will still have time up our sleeves – if not, we’ll take a bus, but if we do, we’ll go the extra mile…..we’ll zip off the official route and make our own way down to Melide where we have wonderful memories from our last trip. The rest of the family has charged us with buying a particular variety of biscuit from a particular bakery there. We’re not objecting. From there it’s just a few days to Santiago, the totally official end-point of all the Caminos.

Why 1,000km? It makes the maths easy! If you sponsor one cent per kilometer, it will cost $10. If you sponsor ten cents it will be $100. What could be easier?
But we’re not actually asking you for any money…..not yet!
For now, would you be able to take a look at Would you snoop around and see if this is a charity you might find yourself willing to make a contribution to when we walk? We’ll be putting up a campaign, but not until next year. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out the website and see the fantastic work they are doing.
Will you take this journey with us? (we’ll blog weekly until departure and then daily if possible when we’re away)

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5 responses to “an adventure for 2014”

  1. Yvette says:

    I knew I kept you guys on my RSS feed “just in case” for a reason- cause you guys are awesome! 🙂

    I’d definitely pitch in as it’s the least I could do for so many years of following your adventures for free (I also like you love “Half the Sky”- I also read his NYT columns regularly and know he just came off of book leave, but no word on what the next book will be yet). And if you want to add a Dutch jaunt to round off the trip you’re more than welcome here. 😉

    Btw just a suggestion if you want to increase exposure (and sounds like you do want to), I know it’s not your thing but consider starting a Facebook page for the project (or hey, get a technically savvy offspring to do it!). You really don’t have to do more than cross-post posts from here as you write them if you don’t want to, but they’re just really good for keeping potentially interested people in the loop who might otherwise stumble across a post and not think about the project beyond a cursory “that’s interesting!” and move on. Just a thought.

    All the best!

  2. rayres says:

    Thanks for your support Yvette. You’re right, exposure is not our thing, but exposure for the cause is necessary. I’m dithering about your suggestion for a facebook page. Here’s my reasoning (tell me what you think). Closer to the time we will put up a project on the charity:water website – the means by which people can donate. (their projects only “last” three months and then they are “finished” – I would really like to double the time – three months before we go and three months while we are walking, but it is sounding like this is a no-go for technical reasons) – In the meantime we were going to post once a week before we leave, then do a concerted fundraising effort in the final two months when the charity:water campaign would be up and running, and for the first month on the road (maybe it would gather some momentum as we posted on the blog ever day…????)
    But you just might be right. Yes, maybe a dedicated FB page. I’ll chat with the troops. They’ll be tickled pink that someone is taking the time to comment!
    As for a Dutch jaunt, I’d love to. But we leave from Madrid, so I don’t see it on the cards. Thanks for the offer though!

  3. WOW you are something else Rach – what an amazing thing to do for you and the kids – I will follow with great interest and of course contribute when the time comes….wow is all I can say

  4. Grandpa Joe says:

    Got to say I am really impressed with the mods to the maps. Very user-friendly. What an awesome thing is Technology – and a pretty awesome blog-writer to use it! Loved to have been planning to go with you – but the years are catching up!

  5. rayres says:

    You just wait till you see the detailed ones I’ve done showing probable and possible overnight stops…

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