I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling

I’ll bet you thought I forgot about this whole 50 books thing. No, it’s just that once again, my intentions are much more noble than reality. I have also been rather poor at reporting on the books I’ve read this year, but most of the time, I assume I’m the only one who really cares about all this, anyway.

#11 is I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling, translated by Shelley Frisch. This one landed on my doorstep the other week as the latest in a slow trickle of review books coming in from Library Journal. (You can search for my recent reviews, if you’re so inclined.) A little uncertain about it at first, I quickly found myself lost in the story and read it cover to cover in one sitting.

Kerkeling is a German comedy performer of some renown. Not being up on my European comedians (aside from nearly memorizing all of Eddie Izzard’s routines on YouTube), I hadn’t heard of the fellow before this book. After failing to track down any recording of a performance in English or with subtitles, I gave up. Considering that my German linguistic skills are virtually nil, I’m not surprised I hadn’t heard of him before. (If you are interested, Amazon has a short interview with him in English.)

The book is essentially the diary he wrote while hiking the Camino de Santiago in 2001. It’s not strictly a recording of events and people from the pilgrimage, but the stories he tells about his background and prior experiences add import to the things that happen to him on the trail. By the end of the story, I felt as though Kerkeling was a long-lost friend with whom I had recently reunited over a cup of coffee. In many ways, this book reminded me of Kelly Winters’ Walking Home, and that is a good thing.

KY to WA – day two

In the morning, I awoke refreshed, although I would have enjoyed sleeping a few more hours.

In the morning, I awoke refreshed, although I would have enjoyed sleeping a few more hours. This past week’s work of packing, errands, and trip preparation has left me with little time for sleep, and the lack was starting to catch up with me. My body reminds me regularly that I am getting older and am not as resilient as I was in high school and college. Our friends had prepared a satisfying breakfast, which concluded with pictures of their trip to see their daughter and son-in-law in Germany earlier this month. Their daughter is my age, and we grew up together like sisters, only I always got along with her much better than my biological sister (who also liked Cara better than me, so we’re even). Reluctantly, we got back in the car and continued on west towards Cheyenne, our final destination for day two.

Around noon, we decided to stop for lunch, and pulled into an Applebee’s. As we were finishing our meal, Dad overheard the man in the next table say something about, “Would the Eastern Kentuckian stand up.” I thought he had mis-heard the man, since I hadn’t heard him say it. We listened to them a bit more, and I could hear the man saying something about a thing on a car and I realized he must have noticed my front plate which has Eastern Kentucky University written on it. I went over and asked him, and it turns out that he used to teach at Morehead University! He is retired now and was with his wife on a trip to Colorado. Who would have thought that we would be sitting in a western Kansas Applebee’s next to someone who used to live in Morehead?

The rest of western Kansas was uneventful. We stopped at the welcome area just inside of Colorado to stretch our legs, use the facilities, and I located the first geocache of the trip. We passed up three on day one because we were already running late for our twelve hour drive, so it was nice to finally be able to stop and hunt for one.

Kiya had recommended we stop in Ft. Collins for dinner, but we were so close to Cheyenne and our motel room for the night that we just kept on going. This proved to be a good thing. After we checked in and unloaded the car, we went out on the town to find dinner and discovered both the wonderful Chinese/Sushi restaurant where we dined that evening and the quaint caf