Onimac 2012 – Preparation

The Camino de Santiago represents many things to different people, for some it is a religious pilgrimage, for others a challenging activity holiday. The route to Santiago de Compostela consists of a network of long distance paths, and rustic inns and hostals that allow the traveller to savour the sights and hospitality of northern Spain. Whatever one’s motivation for travelling along the camino de Santiago, the journey is a chance for people to bond with friends and family in their pursuit a common goal, or for the solo traveller to make new friends on the road.

There are several routes to Santiago. The most popular Camino Francés runs east-west from from the French Pyrenees. The Camino de la Plata runs north from Seville, through Extremadura. The Camino de Levante leads North West from the Mediterranean coast at Valencia.

Routes to Santiago

I had done a couple of weekend cycle-camping trips over the years, but this was to be my first multi-day tour. My plan was to head out from home on Wednesday morning, pick up the Camino de Levante nearby and follow the little yellow arrows towards Santiago. My training had been non-existant, but figured that I would soon find my rhythm.

As I collected my kit together I checked the weather forecast and noticed that the week ahead was going to be dominated by north-westerly winds . I was going to be cycling into a cold, wet head-wind all the way to Galicia.

With less than 24 hours go until my planned departure, I decided to flip my route. Instead of fighting into a wind, to cycle up to Santiago, why not get a bus up to Santiago and cycle home?

Onimac 2012

Back in 2012 I undertook my first multi-day cycle tour. I cycled home from Santiago de Compostela, initially heading east along the route of Camino Francés from Santiago to Astorga, and then making my way south through Castilla Leon towards Avila and Toledo.
I will be publishing my account of the trip over the next few days. I hope you enjoy them.

Delusions of Fascism?

Do the ever-present warnings from the left that Trump is a fascist sound like the paranoid delusions of the Republicans who have spent the last 8 years describing Obama as a communist?

Only time will tell.

Barack Obama has not attempted to bring about a socialist workers’ revolution during his eight years in office. Obamacare was his Big Socialist Policy and it is a compromised husk of his original vision for socialised healthcare. He has been powerless to make progress towards controlling guns but hawkish in his use of drones and surveillance. His personal views are probably to the left of what the US system of government has allowed him to be as president. Those shrill right-wing voices in 2008 warning of a socialist revolution were basing their fears on campaign rhetoric, on Obama’s youthful idealogy, and the pronouncements of his more extreme supporters.

Obama has been thwarted by Congress and the vested interests that control US Politics. He was never going to try to implement the plans of his most strident supporters, and perhaps we should give Trump the same benefit of the doubt Rather than hold him to fulfilling the fantasies of his more crazed supporters, should we not wait judge him on his actions? Let’s see how his administration deals with the molasses of DCs bureacracy. Perhaps he will mellow into the centre-ground, show the pragmatism of the deal-making businessman, rather than the immovable demagogue.

Trump’s and appointments so far do not point towards a massive lurch to the centre. He is an unpleasant right-wing populist who has surrounded himself with thoroughly unpleasant group comprising of white supremacists, oligarchs and ultra-orthodox conservatives. He is clearly on a path towards an administration of populist fascism. His rhetoric gives succour to thugs and terrorists whilst maintaining a veneer or plausible deniablity. Trump does not yet have an Brownshirted militia, but there are probably many who would volunteer and he has done nothing to disuade them yet.

The best we can hope for is that his initial appointments are the quid pro quos of the election cycle. Repaying his campaign supporters with a few months in post and before firing the more embarrasing advisors in favour of the Washington insiders he will need offer deals to keep Congress sweet. And so his swamp shall overflow.

I have no optimism for the Trump Presidency, the best we can hope for is that in four years time we can look back with relief that he was not as bad as he could have been. In the meantime, if he acts as a fascist we need to fight and oppose him. Until then we should avoid crying wolf over every dumb tweet he publishes.  We should maintain a dignity that his supporters failed to show in their opposition to Obama.  

If and when Trump enacts a policy that is undoubtedly fascistic, we should hold him and his supporters to account.  But until then we should avoid over-stating, misrepresenting or sinking to his level.

Welcome to Güirísimo

Why try and define something that is already well described by Wikipedia:

Güiri is a colloquial Spanish name used in Spain applied to foreigners"

And wiktionary

“Added to adjectives to form the absolute superlative.”

I am a by my nature, my appearance and by my decision to live as an immigrant to Spain, a guiri. From my pale skin and lanky limbs to my propensity to sweat I am a guiri.

Unlike the archetypal guiri, who clings to Spain’s coastal enclaves and keeps Spanish culture at arm´s length, I am bilingual, integrated into Spanish society, and live in a non-descript village on the plains of Castille, within commuting distance of Madrid.

This is a place to tell my story, to vent my frustrations and to share those explorations.