Friday, October 17, 2008


Well apparently we're shaping out to be the next China. With our own "Great Firewall" in the works, created with the intent of "protecting the children" from the nasties on the internet, we will soon be reading only what the goverment decides is acceptable for us to read.

Doesn't sound like good news, and is another stupid idea put into implementation from our new friend Kevin Rudd, funded by our tax money of course. I'm no hippy, hear. But every idea that he has carried through on so far seems to be nanny state protectionist bullshit aimed at protecting people from themselves by reducing their individual freedoms.

A few that I have been privy to:
- His new FuelWatch scheme  and It's effect
- His new tax on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks to try and combat binge drinking
- Attempted 2am lockout for bars in Vic (Though this may have been just the state goverment)
- A similar scheme to FuelWatch, only monitoring grocery prices
- A forced rollout of high speed broadband using our tax money yet again, and which will make our current broadband subscription more expensive

For more reading on this topic, check out:
[Link] Slashdot: Nation-Wide Internet Censorship Proposed for Australia

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pinball Method

I have returned to Santiago today by bus and am now staying at the ¨Other Albergue¨. That is, the Albergue that I didn´t stay at last time I stayed in Santiago. Queue Pink Floyd´s ¨Welcome to the Machine¨, because this place certainly is suffering from a lack of love and personality as well as possessing a scope so large that it would give cartographers nightmares. I mean, this place doesn´t just have levels, it has levels divided into sovereign territories. Finding my bed was a somewhat lengthy experience which require me to cross a great distance before I finally located it in Zone B of Level 2, Bed Number 2061, Serial Number x1123483.

The fact that I´m back in Santiago though means that this is my last night in Spain, and tomorrow I´ll be flitting across to Merry Old England, which I have been told has been voted the culture capital of the UK. I´m not sure what they are judging Liverpool against though to come up with a bold claim like that. Do they mean cultured compared to Paris or Rome, or did they deem it ¨cultured¨ by an English standard, which to be fair, isn´t something I go as far as to call culture at all?

We´ll see.

I arrived at my Albergue today after a short walk and a stop at a local Supermarket by something I call the Pinball Method. As I don´t actually speak enough Spanish to understand directions when given, and as most Spanish don´t actually speak English, I usually find my way from place to place by asking someone where my destination is, getting them to point me in the right direction, keep saying ¨Sie, Sie¨ until they finish giving me the directions and asking another person once I reach either an intersection, or a reasonable amount of time has passed. This usually works Ok as long as the place I´m after is fairly unique, and I know the name of it. I have discovered in the past that this method does fall through if you´re asking for something fairly general, like a Supermarket in a large city, as it can happen that each person will direct you to a different Supermarket. Hilarity ensues.

As for my walk to Finisterra, it was quite pleasant. I met a whole bunch of people that I had lost along the way on my way, as well some completely new people. This gave me a good chance to catch up, say goodbyes and spend more time walking which I´m getting a bit sick of at this point.

The walk to Finisterra was much less crowded than the walk to Santiago, as Santiago tends to weed out the majority of the pilgrims. This meant that the Albergues were much smaller, less crowded and it was much more peaceful on the road. I´ve also been told that it is only the ¨real¨ pilgrims that continue past Santiago. Considering I was planning to finish at Santiago, and only continued on to kill time for my filght I´m not sure I qualify. This does mean that after all that walking I now have two pieces of paper now from both Santiago and Finisterra to show for it. I believe the first certificate should hopefully shave 50 years of my purgatory, which is good news in any respect, though I´m hoping that this is transferable, as I think this that my grandmother would appreciate this a lot more than I would.

The end of the world is quite beautiful. If you´re wondering what I´m talking about here, the literal translation of Finisterra/Finsterra is ¨World´s End¨, which is somewhat fitting. After walking all the way past the lighthouse on the end of the cape, I watched the sun set over the sea with some other pilgrims and after, burnt my stick in what I´ve been told is the traditional pilgrim manner. One of the other pilgrims there also burnt a jacket they had that was falling apart, and another his diary as he felt it was a burden and no longer necessary. It was interesting to see what each person burnt, and what each person felt they no longer needed. It was quite amazing as well to see all that sea stretching in all directions, with no land in sight and watch the sun quietly slip below the horizon.

Considering I walked all the way to Finisterra, and including my backtracking down the camino, I have actually walked a little over 1000km total, which is a nice roundish number. The sandels I started walking with are definately showing the wear of walking this distance with only a few scraps of material remaining on the place where my feet rest, and the soles looking a bit worse for wear. I´ve fairly happy with them, as considering what they were required to do, they have definately gone above and beyond the call of duty for a pair of 20 euro sandels.

So, onwards to England then, and in a few days, back to Australia which is pretty exciting. A whole new adventure, and one that doesn´t necesarrily require me to settle down or stay in the country. Should be fun to see what happens.

I never actually met up with that guy that emailed me. Was too fatigued when I arrived the first time in Santiago to move much from my bed, and I arrived by bus too late tonight for me to think about doing anything that required actual effort without good reason. As I lost all but one of my t-shirts and as I am currently wearing a woman´s shirt that I found by the side of the road which is a few sizes too small, bright green and covered in butterflys to boot, it´s probably for the best. I´ve found a box of abandoned gear in this Albergue though, so I´m thinking of checking it out to see if they have any boy clothes in there that I can liberate.

Anyway, see you later. This is Andrew, signing off.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Banana Mornay

It seems to be either a feast of famine as far as this blog is concerned. It really is a combination of what time I have available, and my mood, and the intersection of both is what actually creates posts on this blog.

One thing that I haven´t liked about blogging while travelling has been the lack of time that I can give to anything that I have been posting, which has a lot of the time led me to post things to this blog without giving them much of a look over, spellcheck or similar. Most of my posts are half completed trains of thought without sufficent effort invested to make them fully coherent. This partly due to these damn timers sitting to my side, laughing as they tick down the minutes until the screen darkens and I am booted from the system with little to no warning.

But this is completely off topic from what I was hoping to cover today.

Since I have been travelling I´ve had a huge amount of free time, and I´ve been filling this time in a number of ways. One of these ways is cooking. Cooking never really interested me in the past, and always seemed to be a chore that you had to do, but no one really wanted to. At some point though I made the connection between cooking and fun and since that everything has been gravy. The really fun part though is in the experimentation.

Now making something according to a recipe never really appealed to me that much. However cooking as a learning exercise is something that I have really been enjoying while I´ve been out and about. I´ve been paying attention to what some of the experts I´ve been spending time with have been doing with their own dishes, and I have been experimenting on my own with different combinations of food. One such experiment was something I have named ¨Banana Mornay¨.

Out of any dish, I would have to say that Tuna Mornay would have to be my favourite. But due to problems finding milk at any of the small shops in Spain, and the fact that I´ve cut milk out of my diet and probably shouldn´t be drinking it in the first place had been holding me back from making this. I have though, found an acceptable substitute with banana.

What I basically did was dice 4 bananas, and boil them in water until soft, caramelized and mushy. You then mash the boiled bananas until you have some sort of weird banana soup, and boil out the excess water until you have something of a similar consistency to the sauce for Tuna Mornay (Which I believe is normally made of a combination of milk and grated cheese). Add your tuna to this mixture, as well as onion (Which I forgot to add to my own meal, and I believe would be necessary to balance the taste) and you have something that tastes suprisingly good and is nutritious to boot. I ate the following with pasta as well, but the meal can stand on it´s own if need be.

So, my night to cook should be interesting back home from now on, as long as the rest of the family doesn´t mind not knowing exactly what to expect. Nothing I have made so far has been inedible so everyone should be safe though (Just differing levels of tastiness, based on what works well, what is medicore and what just tastes a little wierd together).

I believe the reason the banana does work as a good substitute for milk in this dish, and does taste similar as you have the natural sugars of the fruit in place of the regular lactose of a regular Tuna Mornay.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What to do?

This I guess is a good example of one of the conondrums I´ve been throw while travelling. A puzzle involving other human beings with a somewhat obvious straightforward solution, but not one that I would prefer to take if possible.

While travelling I stopped for a night in an awesome Albergue (Pilgrim´s hostel)in a small town called Fonfria. There I met, and sort of struck up a repore with the youngish guy running the place (Young as in 30ish). Near the end of my stay there he offered me his place while in Santiago de Compostella (He lives there, and recently finished work at the Albergue).

Now this doesn´t seem so bad, however, I believe that I may have inadvertantly communicated some sort of interest in him that isn´t purely friendly via eye contact or similar. After leaving the Albergue I also ran into him while leaving town where he insisted that I call him once I get to Santiago and I have since also received a follow up email from him asking me to come around to his place when I arrive. As I didn´t really talk with him too much while I was there this is also quite a lot for someone I just met.

So, given this situation I have a few different options:
1. Proceed innocently assuming that there is nothing untoward in his offer and his intentions are purely friendly.
2. Ignore his email and not call him once I arrive to Santiago.
3. Tell him that I have other plans and can not meet up with him.
4. Tell him I have other plans, but offer to meet up with him in Santiago but not stay at his house.
5. Be straight forward with him, explaining my own sexual orientation and ask him whether he still wants to meet up with me considering I like girls and stuff.
6. Don´t think about things so damn much and just follow option 1.

You may think I´m also reading too much into things as well, and maybe I am. There is more to the situtation than I´ve bothered explaining though, including a bunch non-verbal communication that I was mindlessly throwing around, as well they way he was acting near the end of my stay (Which was decidingly non-casual). The blame really comes down to me in the end, digging this hole myself through being too friendly both verbally and non-verbally (I think I must confuse the hell out of people sometimes with the way I act and react).

Considering things I believe only option 1 or 4 are the only acceptable options, and hey, I could be completely misreading things. Whatever happens I would prefer to confront and deal with the situation rather than avoiding it (In fact, I would actually prefer to avoid the situation, however on a concious level I´d prefer to see what I can learn from it).

So I think I´ll end up contacting him in the end and see what happens. And at the end of the day isn´t the most important question, ¨Do I think I can take him if he starts to get handsy?¨, and the answer is ¨Yes. Yes I think I can¨.

The last paragraph isn´t something that I´m really too concerned about. Just seemed like a fairly amusing way to finish this post, as well as reveal my secret Plan B (Code named ¨Operation: Leg it!¨) in case things do go pear shaped (e.g. He happens to have a rather rather comprehensive axe and machette collection displayed in his living room. You know, more sharp objects than is completely reasonable for a single human being to own and store in one place).

I´m also the type of person that usually like to have some sort of exit plan, and to have all my eventualities covered in most situations, no matter how unlikely they are (This might also be the time to mention that I am prepared in case of a nuclear holocaust. So if you need a fallout bunker built on short notice using normal household materials, you know who to call).

Until next time. Peace and out.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Returning soon

It´s all confirmed now. I´ve booked flights and I fly out of Heathrow airport on the 14th of October and should at this stage, arrive back in Adelaide around lunch time on the 16th.

I´m currently around 37Km away from Santiago de Compostella though, so to drag out this trip until my actual flight I´m going to continue walking on past Santiago towards Finisterra on the Spanish coast. As long as I time things right I should arrive in Finisterra 2 days before my flight, have a day to look around the city, take a bus back to Santiago the next day after staying the night, have a day to relax in Santiago and then catch my plane the next day. This should also all be on the cheap using the refugios along the way (I hopefully wont have to restort to any youth hostels).

After arriving in the UK I will be staying with a friend for a day or two in Liverpool and catching a bus to London. After having a quick look around London city I´ll catch a train to the Heathrow airport where I will be taking my flight back to Australia. This is only this convulted as it is as the ticket home would be ridiculously expensive otherwise.

I have to say I haven´t been a very good tourist during my travels either. I will actually be bringing less back with me than I left with in the first place. No souvenirs, no t-shirts or the like. The large backpack I started with is gone, and all I have left now is the small day pack that was attached to front of it. All my things including my clothes now fit into a bag only slightly bigger than the one I took to my first day of kindergarten. One thing I will be bringing back though will be a small fluffy pink toy bunny rabbit which I have been carrying around on my walking stick for the last 100 odd kilometers. I´ve named him the ¨Magic bunny of free stuff¨, as since I´ve been carrying him people have been assuming I´m some poor hippy (Possibly partly due to my dress as well) and have been offering me money and food. My walking stick is now pretty colourful as well, as I´ve been covering it in pieces of string and shoelaces that I´ve found abandoned on the Camino (Mostly red and blue). Because of that it now looks more like something you would expect a witch doctor to be carrying rather than a pilgrim (Especially with the pink rabbit strapped to the top).

Anyway, I should see you all soon. Until next time then.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Story of the Mes

I used to think I was one me, but over time I´ve found I´m many Mes.

There´s a serious Me and a joyful Me. An emotive Me and an analytical Me. A Me that is detatched from everything and a Me that loves to get as close to life and pain as possible. Many, many Mes make up me, in all flavours and colours.

I have many Mes, but none of them are actually me. They are only bridges which the real me uses to access the outside world. The true me is something no one could ever know. The part that watches my Mes play. Spend enough time with my Mes though and you may get to know something about me.

Some people like certain Mes, and some people others. In the past I used to try to control my Mes, but now I just let whichever Me that chooses to surface to play in the world. My Mes are much happier with this situation and so am I.

You might think that having so many Mes would make life more difficult, but the opposite is the case. Each Me has it´s own strengths and weaknesses, and each has it´s own unique contribution to offer. Some times when people meet my quiet Me after seeing my talkative me they think that I´m sad or angry. They don´t seem to understand unless I explain it to them: Nothing is wrong, I´m just being Me.

As a closing note before I go, and before someone else takes over which would think the following a bit wishy washy, I want to say: ¨I love Me, each and every one of them¨.

Journey Update:
Currently in Pomferadda (Not sure if I spelt that correctly, but what the hey).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Life Fantastic

The universe that we live in is a pretty amazing place, with one of the most mind boggling things for me being the existance of life itself. It´s hard when looking around at the place we live in not to be blown away by the variety of life, and the different forms it takes.

The wonder of this all also comes from an a believed understanding of how stuff works. Now, as you´ve probably been taught in school, all stuff, all matter, consists of energy in various arrangements and combinations. Now the improbability of there existing a universe capable of supporting life aside, there are a few things that I find pretty amazing about life.

Number one, that out of the energy from which the universe grew, matter formed.
Fairly important, because as I see it, it had no real reason to form or change into anything, let alone anything solid. There exists a number of "laws" which made this formation of matter possible, but why and how these laws exist are a pretty big mystery to me (Unless any physics geeks out there can explain it to me).

That a habitat came to be that was capable of supporting life, and on that planet grew matter capable of reproducing itself.
Again fairly improbable, but a bit less amazing. Considering the sheer number of planets in the universe I guess there was bound to be one with all the right conditions needed to allow life to develop. Still, what is amazing if you´ve followed the progression so far, is that you have all this energy, some of which has coalesced into matter, and which due to the right conditions has developed the ability to reproduce itself.

That through random mutation this matter grew into more and more complicated forms.
This matter reproduced, it evolved, it grew more complicated. From a simple origins it started to develop numbers of competing variants, some of which with multiple cells. Many different forms of life developed, competed and filled their own niches.

That this increasingly complex reproducing matter. This life. Evolved to the stage where it was capable of perceiving it´s enviroment in a greater way.
Grown from a small seed, life is now able to perceive it´s enviroment. It´s able to see and touch and smell and taste. Matter, life, has matured greatly and moved an inconceivable distance from it´s simple origins.

That this matter became self aware and became capable of of exploring and investigating it´s own enviroment.
This is the truly amazing part, though if you follow the whole process not really amazing at all. Intelligence being a survival advantage, and organisms getting increasingly more and more intelligent, there finally arose something that was aware of itself as thinking, talking matter. Something capable of delving into the mysteries surrounding it´s origins and capable of changing their selves and their enviroment in a very large scale way. This is the stage we have reached at the moment. Self aware creatures living in a inconceivably large, amazing universe.

So when you look at a tree, what you are really seeing is a mass of energy, arranged in such a way that it consumes nutrients from the soil from which it sprouts, and energy from the sun. A form of life that has made a journey of millions of years to reach the point it has now, and should it be allowed to continue, a journey of millions of years more. Life is matter, given mobility, form and motive force. Life is matter which is able to perceive itself, to perceive other matter. Energy coallesed into form, form given senses. A rock that has grown eyes, able to look around it´s home and wonder at the beauty of it all.

I don´t know if there is a God, and advocates of religious doctrine seem to be quite against the idea of evolution as it competes with their own stories of creation. I however think, that if there is a God, then he is indeed a genius, for I can think of no method greater, no solution to the creation of life more elegant, than to allow life to evolve and develop itself. A system, where life grows to fill and suit it´s enviroment without requiring any design what so ever. Where these life forms adapt to suit any changes in the enviroment without requiring any maintenance or redesign what so ever. And lastly, should the organism prove worthy enough and not be eliminated due to changes in it´s enviroment, competition with other forms of life, or it´s own stupidity, eventually leave it´s limited enviroment to explore the greater universe and all the wonders that it may hold.

So when you take a look at anything, be it a tree, a rock, an animal or a person. Take a moment to realize what an amazing thing you are looking at, and wonder at the fact that you´re able to look at it at all.

On a bit of a side note I am now in CarriĆ³n de los Condes, 371km down the Camino de Santiago. For an idea of where I am now, and where I´m going you can check out, which shows some of the main cities that I will be passing through during the next few weeks. Be sure though, that I will be in no way keeping up with this schedule as I am way to lazy to complete the camino in the time or way indicated. I think I´m actually over a week behind what is indicated due to me slowing down, stopping and at one stage, walking 2 days backwards down the pilgrims route to get back to an interesting place I passed along the way.

Anyway, until next time, Chow.