Skip to content

Archive for

Hola! A Little Taste of Spanish

One of the exciting things I decided to do this year to help me prepare for my trip overseas to France and Spain in 2014 was to learn two new languages – Spanish and French.

After our trip to Hong Kong to visit one of our daughters who is currently living there and dancing at Hong Disneyland, I realised the value of taking some time to learn the language of the country I intend visiting for a number of reasons. Whilst you can survive without the necessity to learn the native language, the locals love and respect you for at least having a go at attempting to communicate with them using the language of their country.

We saw for ourselves the positive difference it made, watching our daughter, who at the time had not been living in Hong Kong but a few short months, communicate in basic Cantonese with taxi drivers, shop keepers and sellers at the markets to name but a few instances. The change of expression on the locals’ faces was impressive. Their expressions changed from the usual glazed over-not that interested look of having to deal with another foreigner to one of delight when familiar words and phrases were uttered. Some actually did a double take to look at our daughter more closely. And the smiles…for here was a beautiful young blonde-headed foreigner who had taken the trouble to try to communicate on their terms. Colleagues of our daughter fromDisney had kindly offered to teach her Cantonese when dressing her for her performances. So, whilst she had no formal lessons, she was still able to learn enough to make her life in Hong Kong a whole lot more easier and it no doubt helped her to assimilate in her new cultural experience.

Next year when I travel to Europe and visit France (briefly) and Spain (for a significant number of weeks), I want to try to speak conversationally with other pilgrims and locals, as well as anyone else I happen across. I’ve never felt the need to learn another language before this, but once I made the decision, it changed my perspective on things. I initially felt daunted and overwhelmed with the thought of learning not one, but two languages at my age, but after having had six weeks of lessons (so far) I am excited and it’s fun. I am also meeting many other like-minded people who are intending to travel and I listen with interest to the many others who have stories to share of the travels they have already undertaken.

I’m so glad that I decided to give it a go. I have three weeks left of a nine week course – Level 1 and I have enough basic understanding of things to practice with while I wait till later on in the year to tackle Level 2. My plan then will include a refresher course before heading off to Spain next year. During the time from now until I leave I will try to find other Spanish speakers to practice with. Other good tips are to watch Spanish movies and listen to what is being said while watching subtitles, listening to music, language CDs and Spanish news, etc. Recently I watched a Spanish cooking show and recognised my first word, other than the basic greetings. The word was poquito meaning little and has since become my favourite word so far.

For homework after Lesson 5, we were asked to write a short presentation using espanol about ourselves. Here is what I wrote:

Hola amigos,

Mi hombre es Debbie. Soy australians. Yo vivo en Chandler, Brisbane.

Estoy aprendiendo espanol porgue tengo la intencion de caminar en solitaire como peregrino en 2014 a lo largo de la ruta del camino Frances de St Jean Pied de Port hasta Finisterre, los extremes de la tierra.

Disfruto de las class de espanol y aprendo todo lo que puedo sobre el pais de Espana, su cultura, su gente y sobre todo la comida.

Estoy muy emocionada y espero el ago que viene

Saludos cordiales


I have posted a link to Youtube to show a couple having a conversation in Spanish. He is mucho better and further along than I am…but watching this I can definitely pick out words and phrases that I have learnt.

Click on the link and see how much you know…

A friend of mine who speaks fluent French is helping me with some conversational French and I am meant to be trying to learn French at the same time as I learn Spanish, which sounds all well and good, however, it is proving to be a little challenging time wise. Learning Spanish is not fast for me and I have to stop and look up words and phrases most of the time. As time  progresses, my speed and comprehension will develop. One thing I can’t afford to do and that’s beat myself up about it. I need to work at my own pace and the rest will follow.

So until next time, amigos…

Buen Camino

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining…Even Best Plans Sometimes Need Tweaking

Brisbane has copped its fair share of rain lately, along with the rest of the East coast of Australia. We’ve experienced some exciting storm season situations along with more flooding. Unfortunately, it seems this is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. Long periods of serious rain has been known to create cabin fever in even the most patient of folks and I’m no exception to this rule.

There was a time in my past when we lived on a property an hour away from Rockhampton and we were situated in a dry belt. We’d watch the storms build all around us and then pass us by. As a family we made a pact that if it would just rain for us we would never again complain about the amount of rain that fell. I’ve always been mindful of that comment. I put it down in the never say never category as quite frankly, I’d like to have more control over when and how it rains.

The recent rain has disrupted the way I train. I don’t mind walking in the rain but I try to avoid downpours, which is what we’ve been experiencing. This has necessitated the way in which I train and I’ve had to become creative; well, for me, at any rate. This is saying a lot because  I am happiest just to walk for fitness. Until I was diagnosed with plantar faseiitis quite recently,  I never did much else except walk, for I am a walker and a happy one at that. I know there are many different ways to get fit, but I’ve just never been concerned with any of them.

However, that has changed now.

There is another saying that seems to fit in with my rainy days theme and it goes like this: It never rains but it pours! Whilst this saying was triggered by the rain initially, I make reference to it based on a few health issues that have cropped up recently.

After I got back from Sydney I finally succumbed to and paid a visit to the doctor to suss out my right knee. Over the years my knee has always been a little sensitive and flares up for a while but generally settles quite quickly. In the past, when it flared up I’d feel some pain, but I’d usually just persevere and I’d never been inclined to check out what the problem is. I can remember these flare ups as far back as when I was 18 and riding horses. I’ve just lived with it and the thought never occurred me to ask a doctor. But while I was in Sydney walking around, I think I may have jarred my knee and the result has been a more than normal painful and slightly swollen knee. When combined with my Plantar Faseiitis, both on my right leg, well I must admit, I felt a little out of sorts and had to take another enforced break. Some X-rays confirmed  mild osteo-arthritis; just great! But, I guess it is to be expected from the normal wear and tear on the body.

I am managing the Plantar Faseiitis with stretching exercises given to me by my sports podiatrist and don’t have to go back to see him till June or July. Now I am working with a physiotherapist to sort out my knee issues. I am currently learning and executing exercises that will strengthen my knee and hopefully take the current stress off it. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with these conditions over the past couple of months, but it is all character building, I’m sure.  I have ‘rest’ days when I feel I need them. I try to listen to my body, however, there are days when my knee aches and I won’t/can’t give in to it and I try hard to push through the pain and continue on walking or exercising. Generally mind over matter can be a powerful thing for me, but I’m not advocating this to others. It really is a matter of figuring out what works for me and how much I can put up with.

I combine my walking (between 7 – 13 kilometres per day) with a 20 kilometre cycle (stationary exercise bike) workout, weights for knees and upper body, stretches for total body, sit ups and physio exercises. This can sometimes take a large chunk of time, so I play around with the combinations. It all seems to be working and I notice that I can climb stairs quite well now and in my job at QPAC, when I hold open the large glass doors and greet our guests, I can generally do this with ease now. When I first started I felt awkward and it was hard to hold the doors open. So, I believe I am seeing and feeling improvements in myself.

My repertoire of exercises and fitness program has grown from simply walking. My goal of walking 1000 kilometres along the Camino Way has had more far-reaching benefits than just getting fit for the walk. I am making some lifestyle changes that will make a permanent and positive difference to my life. I’ve cut out adding sugar to my coffee or cereal, I strictly limit my intake of alcohol and try to eat fresh, unprocessed meals in small quantities. And, it is working. I am getting fitter, more toned and slimmer.

Colleagues and friends have begun to notice the difference and often express their compliments. This is very encouraging to someone who is trying very hard to improve physical fitness levels and train for a significant journey. I really do appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement.

I always try to look on the bright side of life – even when the chips are down. The rain and the injuries, whilst I wish I didn’t have to suffer through them, I am thankful for them because they have pushed me to look for different ways to do things and I am much better off for it. Every cloud does have a silver lining – it seems…


Contemplation in the early hours of the morning – 5:20am…the road is wet and quiet. I start my walk in the dark some twenty minutes before this photo was taken. The lights are still glowing. Soon the sun will peek through the trees and the lights will disappear.


And as if one cue…the sun makes its appearance. Oh what a beautiful morning…oh what a beautiful day…I’ve got a wonderful feeling…everything’s going my way.

%d bloggers like this: