Project Camino: Part 3- Music

If there’s one thing I like about the walking, it’s the music. Climbing to the summit of that mountain can be made so much better, in my eyes, with the correct music track. Maybe some epic orchestral movement, or some amazing electric guitar, or Justin Bieber…if that’s what you’re in to.

I like being able to lose myself, be that through my thoughts, my writing or my music. I don’t follow one particular person religiously, but when a specific track comes on, and I like it, I’ll stick to it. Play it millions of times until my brain finally takes a step back and tells me of the mistake I’m making, and that I can no longer listen to it because it is ‘ruined’. Walking the Camino was an opportunity for me to explore this escapism through music, discovering exactly what I like, and if it’s possible to like other things with more subjection to it.

On the other hand, other people seem to cope better without any background music, just their thoughts. This I can understand, it makes it easier to contemplate whatever it is you’re meant to be contemplating. My dad, for instance, rarely listened to music but still came away with more or less the same experience I did.
The other fallback, I found, was the pressure to pick ‘good music’. I never understood why, because someone hadn’t heard of who I was listening to, it was bad. There are a million different types of music, and billions of tracks, but because you haven’t heard of this particular one, it’s bad. Music is a very personal preference, doubly so in this environment. It becomes more of an extension of yourself, of your thoughts, permitting you to connect to yourself, and your environment, with greater ease, depending on your presence of music or no music.

In my opinion, I find that music serves to intensify a specific emotion that you’re experiencing. Amplifying your thoughts with greater clarity. This can be why many people have different favourite songs dependent on ‘what mood they’re in’. The anger and rage you feel becomes clearer with that heavy metal track, or why, when you’re in a romantic setting, the perfect romantic ballad can help ‘woo’ your date. This is why it is so easy to connect with those special lyrics, because they perfectly sum up all of you’re emotions and thoughts when listening to it.

Lyrics become embedded into memory, stuffing themselves into the cracks of your mind, never forgotten, a snapshot of your current state whilst listening to the perfect song.

-Elliot

Project Camino: Part 2- Confidence.

It takes a lot of confidence to try new things. I’m not saying that before I wasn’t confident, because I was. I wasn’t afraid to talk to people or try something new, however there is a difference in getting that weird sounding plate of food from wagamamas and walking 260km through Spain.
On my travels, it was hard, especially at the start, to walk up to other walkers to engage in conversation. This is a bit of a problem when you’re on your own for two weeks with nothing to do.

I have met some incredible people as I let my confidence grow. For me, it takes time, it takes time for everyone to adapt, yet they are all on the same walk as you are. Confidence takes time. You need time to grow but, once you realise that it doesn’t matter, it’s easy.
One of the many purposes of the trip was to allow myself to try new things. Jumping off of bridges into rivers, eating octopus tentacles, a cheeky splash of wine and even going to church. For me, that’s big.

Starting at Astorga, I was immediately nervous, not sure where we were starting that night, wether or not we could have a bed, what we would be eating, wether it would rain, if my bag was too light, how was my stomach? In the end, I decided none of that mattered.
It doesn’t matter, in all honesty. I was prepared for it, but I was still choosing to make myself anxious. Why would I choose to make myself feel bad? Ultimately, I am in charge of how I feel and I am the only person in control with my emotions. Why waste my time bumming myself out.

A wise man told me something along the way that has stuck with me, as a kind of mantra.

The only thing that is important is you being happy.

I was fortunate enough to understand that along the way. Why would I waste my time caring what other people think? If I want to try something, yet somebody doesn’t want me to, should I let that influence my decision in anyway. Granted if it was jumping out of a plane without a parachute I may reconsider, but everyday things. Talking to people, learning about new things and experience amazing things. Seeing great sights and sounds ultimately made me realise the importance of being happy. If I wasn’t happy, why would I do it.

Confidence is, for me, an interesting issue. You can’t pick up a bag of confidence at your local supermarket (a cheap bottle of whiskey that does the same thing maybe). It’s purely mental. I view it the same way as I view fear. It is a mental subject that is entirely self inflicted that limits ones ability. If I’m not confident in myself, I may perform at a lower level. So why? Surely if I am in charge of my own emotions and mental state I can simply decide, we can all simply decide, to simply stop and be confident. Confidence is purely subjective, once you realise that, you will soon not care about it any more.

Elliot out.

Project Camino: Part I of V

PART ONE: ORIGINS

All stories have origins. Wether or not they happen in a particularly epic manner or not is a different manner. For me, the start of my 260km trek through Spain didn’t start with a vision in a burning bush, or a visit from the ghost of Christmas past, or a paranormal entity crawling out of my TV, but walking out of a cinema, 99p Chicken Mayo burger in hand.

“I’m just saying, sometimes it’s better to not know where you’re going. When was the last time you went on an actual adventure?”
This was the kind of thing we usually talked about, my dad and I, when out together. His mundane collection of maps annoyed me. My mundane approach of adventure and wandering blindly annoyed him. What was planned there and then may, or may not have been to put these theories to the test. My Dad, who had remained silent now offered his thoughts. “Have you ever heard of the Camino?”

Well, me being a sixteen year old obviously hadn’t. I knew about the burger, and munched on it silently. What was a Camino? It sounded like a species of Piranha.
I did have the guts to Google it when we got home. “WHAT! THAT’S A WALK, A LONG ONE!”. I hadn’t really known much about how long walks usually were, as the average duration for me was fifteen minutes down to the local Tesco to get a jumbo chocolate croissant in the morning (85p, in case you’re wondering, i’d recommend).
260km would be our distance, restricted by time.
That and my fitness.
Oh, and the sleeping arrangements.

I didn’t know this at the time, but hostels are not that comfortable. I was given a description, but nothing could prepare me for the living conditions. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for any of it. The walking, early hours, coffee, massive sandwiches, annoying birds and snoring women. All of which I experienced. But I did try to prepare.

Climbing Mt Snowdon, the numerous hikes, early starts and aching all played their part in my year long training so I would simply be able to finish. I do live in England though, so I don’t have the heat. Scorched earth beating down on you without any shade for hours as your lips dry and water depletes. You wage a constant war with the equilibrium of energy and sleep.

But I like a challenge. I like seeing what I can actually do, how far I can push myself.

After all, how bad could it be?

-Elliot

AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE WEEK UPDATE.

Wow, what can I say really!
Thanks for all the support that everybody has been giving this event, i’m super excited to be organising it and can’t wait for it to start.
Now, I just need to organise it all…
Here’s what’s going to happen, i’m going to give out my email address and anyone who wants to participate should drop me an email ASAP, allowing me to gauge what areas are left that are not written about, therefore not covered. Ideally, here’s what areas I would like to see:

-Australia
-Europe
-North America
-Canada
-South America
-Russia
-China
-India
-Either Antarctica or the Arctic.

As you can see these are quite broad, so please email me regarding where you would like to write about, wether or not you have been there is up to you. Try and keep it unusual, somewhere you think sums up that particular culture, or country, or continent. Please note that you do not have to email me your article straight away! This only just to notify me of where you will be writing about!

The event will start (hopefully) on Monday 20th July so get your emails in!!!

Also, we need as much publicity as possible. This involves reblogging, notifying any suitable connections you have, and generally getting the word out!

Thank you all again for your support, this should be a great event!

heres my email address: ejdawes@talktalk.net

I look forward to hearing from you!

-Elliot

Drifting above the rainforest: Ziplining in Monteverde

For me, Monteverde (located in the centre of Costa Rica) is, and will always be, one of the most immersive and beautiful places in South America. It’s good food, fantastic hotel resorts (donut breakfast!), and an adrenaline pumping experience.

I didn’t know that morning, during the donut breakfast buffet previously mentioned, that I would be suspended 160 ft above the rainforest canopy. You could imagine my surprise, therefore, when I encountered one of said zip lines, balanced precariously on the edge of a mountain. A structure of cheap steel and wood. I mean come on! Really!

I was harnessed and ready to go, my heart about to pump out of my chest and make a break for it, running away going “see you later sucker!”. Thankfully it didn’t, so I still had to do it.
Usually I’m an adventurous guy, someone who’ll try new things. Not then. Then I wanted to get away, to not do it. I didn’t though, I reinforced, reassured and reenergised myself, this became incredibly important when I was the first person to be clipped to the line.

Imagine, for a second, you’re in my shoes. A size 9 1/2, probably some sort of office shoes- anyway, you’re basically dangling there, and then you go forward through a hoe in the trees and there’s the floor…a long way down.
I’m not scared of heights. Falling from them, however, is something I don’t really plan on doing, nor do in the future, so I immediately pulled on the brakes. That’s important, that bit, that reflex I had no control over. You’ll need to remember that for later on.

The first three or four weren’t bad, an introduction to get you’re body used to basically flying through the air attached to a piece of string. Something we surprisingly aren’t supposed to do-Who invented Ziplining? I mean, what were they doing?
Then you got confident, the adrenaline kicks in and you’re ready to go, skipping from track to track. I was on the 9th, 10th, 11- wait. Wait what was that?
Halfway through the penultimate track I saw the next one, and a (fair to say) obese lady simply stopping at the centre of it. Left hanging there overlooking what I was told at the end of the course by a smiling staff member the highest, longest and fastest track.
Haha, silly woman, thinking that was a good idea. Hahaha-wait. I’m next! Oh lord how do I get out of- oh okay I’m guessing I’m being clipped in now.

Well, see where this is going?

I was clipped in and stupidly peered over the edge. It was a long way down. I could picture myself falling down, arriving at the bottom with a sickening crunch. As I set off, accelerating at an alarming pace, that panic came back to me, the reflex came back as well and I applied the brakes. I applied the brakes! Why in all that is holy would I apply the brakes. Now I was stuck there, the wind whipping around me as I rocked from side to side, the cable creaking. I had to pull myself along, which I did. Putting one hand in front of the other as I tried to escape the black void beneath me. I was higher up than the tallest trees, which swayed back and forth. After five minut-five minutes! After five minutes of this I picked up speed and accelerated again, going once more as fast as usual. I was going very fast, so fast in fact that when I put the brakes on at the end, sparks flew out. I was left there on the precipice, breathing at an alarming rate (although this could be mainly due to the exercise I had had to do.) and at the end of the course.

Although my accident was a scary ordeal, I would recommend anyone visiting Monteverde to check out their Ziplining service as it is well worth the money. The staff are incredibly friendly and the café at the end allows some time to unwind!

Monteverde Ziplining

-Elliot