I leave Santiago in just a few days. I am ready. These 6 months in Spain have been rich. I leave with my heart as full as my book of drawings. As I take Cheri to my favourite spots around the city and say goodbye to the new friends I’ve made, I want to take it all in. I want to let all of the flavor and textures of these experiences marinate and mix together and seep deep into my memory. The memory of our trip to Finisterre is the freshest on my mind as Cheri and I just returned to Santiago just yesterday. It was such a treat to walk to the ‘end of the world’ for the second time and to share the journey with a new pilgrim. It is always fun to see a treasured experience through someone else’s eyes and it was especially potent to see it through Cheri’s. She is one of my friends that has cultivated the ability to be fully present to an experience, no matter the circumstances.
When we set out last Friday I had just learned that Cheri was walking for the very first time with a backpack. With this new bit of information, I decided to divide our walk into five days rather than the typical four, or even three, so that we could both enjoy our time on the Camino. For anyone, even the experienced hiker, the first few days of a Camino can be a brutal awakening to the impact of long distance walking. This was no exception. Cheri persisted, however, and finished the 87 kilometers to Finisterre despite aching, throbbing feet, a swollen and angry ankle and scorching August temperatures that made 15 kilometers seem like 30. I had never hiked in such intense heat either, and over the course of the first three days, it began to take its toll. The last two days, thankfully, brought cool breezes, thick morning fog and a welcome wet dew that clung to our hair and eyelashes as we walked through lush green forests steeped in pungent eucalyptus scents. We talked about life and God and what the next stretches of our own personal Caminos might look like. We sang songs and invented new ones and laughed until we cried over the silliest of things. We found fellowship with beautiful Italians and joyful Germans and we experienced the kindness of strangers again and again. Cheri got to taste the sweetness of the Camino for the first time and I got to revel in the blessing of experiencing it once more.
After our time in Finisterre, I had two days set aside to do an interview and some research for an article I am writing and illustrating. This article came about as a result of my trip to Barcelona this past June. When I visited Barcelona, I had two main goals in mind: one was to see Pentatonix live (which was FANTASTIC!) and the other was to connect with an amazing food photographer named Becky Lawton. Becky is a friend and business associate of the man that hosted me in Barcelona. Robin graciously introduced us over email, and during my stay I was able to visit her beautiful light infused studio nestled in the heart of Barcelona. We sipped Lady Grey in the spacious, bright kitchen and talked about…well…food. I was able to pick her brain regarding the business world of food and in my case, specifically food illustration. Becky is originally from the UK but has lived in Barcelona for fifteen years. She has a huge network of connections as a result of her many years in the business and is also the founder of a Spanish foodie website called Delicooks that she established in 2009.
Delicooks “offers solutions for creating recipes, books and websites as well as blog delicacies. It also has other professional services such as food photography, catering business advice, editorial production as well as cookery courses and corporate design.” Through our email correspondence I had proposed writing an article for Delicooks to gain some exposure for my food illustrations. I love painting and documenting my travels, but I especially enjoy drawing food. I feel that it has definite commercial appeal and possibilities as I start to try to carve out my niche in the vast world of illustration. Becky loved the idea and after checking out my portfolio, she agreed to meet with me. Over our second cup of tea, she offered to interview me for their site as well as feature my yet to be written article. The interview would be released at the same time as the article and would help direct visitors to my work. Becky gave me complete freedom to write about anything Spanish food related that I wanted. What fun! I began to ponder what I wanted to write and draw…
During my time exhibiting at the Parador, I would occasionally have coffee with Julio, the director of the hotel, and I remembered that his family owned a restaurant in Sardiñeiro, a small town just outside of Finisterre. This isn’t just any Spanish restaurant, but is, in fact, the oldest restaurant in the entire region of Galicia! After questioning Julio, I learned that Casa Lestón is actually turning 100 years old in 2017 and the family has begun to plan how to celebrate such a momentous occasion. What a fabulous story and subject for my article! I began to brainstorm how I could spend some time at Casa Lestón…
As a result, after walking 87 kilometres to Finisterre, Cheri and I found ourselves wined and dined in the tiny pueblo of Sardiñeiro. We were treated to a lovely hotel room attached to the restaurant and in between eating and interviewing, were able to sun ourselves on the irresistible beach just across the road. I drew my view of the coastline as I sat on the sand overlooking the bay. My shade of turquoise paint does not do justice to the actual colour of the water at all. It was dazzling.
As I write this blog I am anxious to get started on my article! I will be sure to post a link to an English version when my work goes live on the Delicooks site. Until my next post, I hope you have the chance to share an intimate experience with a dear friend, invent a silly song, eat some delicious food and perhaps see the deepest shade of cerulean blue that you have ever laid eyes on.