December 31, 2005

End of Year (2005) Letter

December 12, 2005

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas! Burak and I are doing great here in Durham, North Carolina, and we hope that this letter finds your family just the same. These days we all live in different places, and it can be hard to stay in touch. So why don’t we give you a little review of this year to keep you up to date with all of our activities in 2005 in our “Fourth Annual Christmas Letter”? (Really official title, right? That’s actually pretty much all you learn in law or business school – giving official-sounding names to concepts that you already intuitively know!!)

I was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar this past academic year (August ’04 - July ’05) studying European and Middle Eastern studies in Barcelona, Spain. The purpose of the scholarship is to build goodwill and better understanding around the world. Basically, I had a full-time job talking to people about the US (economy, politics, culture, etc.) and writing about my observations living in Europe. I got a taste of my ideal job in life, and I loved every minute of it.

I took the LSAT and applied to law schools from Spain. When Burak and returned to the US after 14 months abroad, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing in North Carolina. Just one day before UNC Law’s first-year orientation, I went into the office and asked about my wait list situation. Within about 30 minutes after I caught the Dean, he looked over my file and gave me some of the happiest news in my life: I was in at Carolina Law! I have been in law school for the last three months and am finishing my first semester’s exams this week.

While in Barcelona (BCN) this last year, Burak was an academic counselor at an American school. He not only got to do what he was good at, but he was able to speak English the whole time at work. His co-workers became a pseudo-family for us last year as we lived abroad. Most of his co-workers had taught in the American school system in other countries and moving to new places was just the routine for them.

Burak was accepted to Duke MBA last December (2004), so we knew almost from that day on that we were moving to North Carolina. The school had a great welcome system where he was instantly connected to his future classmates via an email listserv through which he soon invited people to visit us in BCN and was given information on where to live in Durham. With all that great assistance, Burak was able to secure an apartment for us in NC from BCN without ever stepping foot in it.

This year was filled with many unforgettable events:

In the month of January, we stayed with my Belgian host family for a couple of weeks. I was able to show Burak all the places I went to on exchange (‘99-’00) and introduce him to all the key people in my life that year: my host counselor, my other Belgian family, Rotarians, and Belgian friends. We ate a lot of good food and returned back to BCN for school and work. I remember that being a hard month for me because I thought that I was going to hear from the law schools that month, but no, I had to wait a lot longer. But hey, it all works out in the end.

In February, we went to Paris for Valentine’s weekend and stayed with a friend from Austin. It was Burak’s first time in Paris so we did all the essential tourist necessities. We even got together with other friends we knew from DC and Texas who all happened to be living in Paris.

Soon after we returned home, Burak got extremely sick around the same time he learned his father was dying of cancer. We were blessed that Istanbul is just a three-hour flight from BCN so Burak had visited his family just a few months prior to learning his father was extremely ill. Naci (Burak’s father) died after we returned from Paris. Burak’s work was very accommodating and even paid for his trip to Turkey for a week to be with his family. We have surely missed Naci. I was blessed with the two months at my in-laws’ beach house in 2004 where I got to know them closely for the first time. My father-in-law did a lot of great things for his family and for everyone around him.

In March, the weather got better, so our travel schedule got fuller just like those of our guests. That first weekend I went to Rome for the first time and met up with a San Antonio friend, Brent, who had never been to Europe before. He and his other Texas friends were glad to have a seasoned traveler on hand. I met up with a Rotary Scholar, Elizabeth, whom I met in Berlin. She showed us around, and we had a blast. The next weekend, Brent visited us in BCN for a day, Elizabeth saw BCN for her first time, and we also hosted two Belgian (they were Americans living in Belgium!) exchange students. Then for Easter, that is a week-long or more of vacation in most European countries, Burak and I took a train to Toulouse, France to visit a French friend. We visited cute little medieval villages, Bordeaux, and various vineyards. Two other friends from Paris wanted in on the fun so they came to Toulouse, and we all met up since we all knew each other from Texas. We heard Mass in French for Easter in one of Toulouse’s gorgeous cathedrals. We ate a lot of really good French food. I even had time to speak to a Rotary club there with my rusty French.

In April, we hosted a lot of people! My Belgian host brother and his girlfriend stayed for a week, then Burak’s host brother from Hungary stayed for ten days. During some of that time, I saw the Alhambra in Granada and went to La Feria de Abril in Seville where the town dresses up in Flamenco dresses and old-fashion suits and parties until the early morning for a week. In Seville, I stayed with a Rotary Scholar, Christanne, and she introduced me to her Rotary club. My club from BCN actually met up with me for the festival in Sevilla, and I almost missed my plane because I came home just a few hours before my flight! Europe was beginning to feel like a small playground for me!!

One of the things I am most proud of from my year happened in late April. Christanne and I walked the last 120 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago. During that time, I learned a lot about myself, met interesting people, stopped in the same small café Jenna Bush stopped by while she was on the Camino, almost got run over by cows and learned how toilet paper and hot showers are necessary luxuries! If anyone wants to know more, just email me. I plan to do it again in life.

In May, we had more guests and I spoke to the District 2210 Rotary Conference in Segovia. My Belgian friend I met 10 years ago in Texas stayed with us in BCN with his fiancée. My brother started his month-long stay in our apartment. Burak and I were chaperones to his high school’s prom. I not only was honored to speak to 400 or so Rotarians in Spain, but I actually cried in front of them during my speech when I realized I had to leave. I am sure that they won’t forget me! My sister visited me for a week. David, Emily, and I had a great time in BCN and Madrid. I think I saw Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow in Madrid walking down the street. And my dear best friend from college, Ann, visited me for a few days while she took a trip around Spain.

June was crazy. I had almost single-handedly organized a conference for Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) the first weekend, and the following week was the Benefit Dinner for the Martinez Foundation that was my Ambassadorial Scholar project. We were running a hostel (our apartment) with a revolving door and some days we didn’t even know who was staying with us. J Within one week, I turned 24; Burak finished his academic year at school; we celebrated our 3-year anniversary; and we went out for the biggest beach party of the year where the whole coast stays up until dawn. That weekend, we took my brother and some friends, including some of Burak’s future classmates we had just met, to Costa Brava for some sun and windsurfing. The month ended with a three-day trip to Mallorca Island where we drove along the coast and swam in the clear waters.

In July, we were in six countries. Burak, David, and I went to Morocco the first weekend after a few hours in Seville, lodging in windy Tarifa, and taking a boat over for a day to Morocco. It was a lot like Turkey. The next weekend, all three of us went to the Basque region of Spain for the running of the bulls in Pamplona and a trip to the beach in San Sebastian. I think the ‘running’ is a little overrated. We made the most out of it: sleeping in the car, avoiding the crazy people and David even slapped a bull’s butt while running. Burak and I moved out of our place, moved our stuff to a friend’s apartment, and started our three-week European trip before returning to the US.

We started off in Amsterdam, Netherlands where we visited with a Rotary Scholar. I saw Mariah Carey on the canal and Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague. It was great being back when the weather was better. We flew to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit a friend for a couple of days. I felt really stupid when I realized that Hans Christian Andersen, a Dane, wrote all those famous stories we know as kids. Disney was inspired to make Disneyland after visiting Tivoli, a large amusement park in downtown Copenhagen. Did you know that a Dane created the ‘Lego?’ We then went to Stockholm, Sweden for a few days and stayed with a friend. The weather was horrible for late July. We went to a theme park, ate some interesting food, I spoke to a Rotary club, and learned about Swedish culture. Soon we were off to Berlin, Germany for a couple of days. We stayed with a friend in East Berlin. I took Burak around the town to all the favorites; we visited Check Point Charlie; Burak has a mouse pad now with the famous “You are leaving the American sector…” quote. We later flew to Bavaria, where we stayed in Munich with another old friend from Texas. I had been there five years before. We saw the famous German castle that Disney copied, Neuschwanstein, unsuccessfully looked for naked people in the local park, and later sat in a beer hall with one-liter (one-quart) mugs singing in German (J) and drinking with the locals. It was like a scene from one of those Chevy Chase travel movies.

August is always a month of changes, usually because school always starts in August. From Munich we took a train to Budapest, Hungary. Besides the Czech Republic five years ago, this was the second place to make me feel completely lost and clueless for not speaking their language. We stayed with Burak’s Hungarian friend who was an exchange student to El Paso with Burak. We learned about the Soviet Union’s impact on the country by visiting the House of Terror, ate great food, had a private tour at a local vineyard, and enjoyed the scenery. We flew back to BCN and collected our things for our return trip to the US after 14 months abroad.

It felt weird to be back: speaking English to everyone, understanding what people were saying and knowing that they could understand what you were saying, having to add the tax to the price advertised, getting decent customer service, being served large portions of food, and the smell and touch of green, cotton dollars. The list goes on. We were picked up in Baltimore, Maryland and hosted by a Texan friend whom I met in Belgium and her fiancé. They helped us find a car that we bought the very next day in the US. We collected our things in DC and drove to our next destination: Durham, North Carolina!

To sum up the rest, we moved in, got settled, Burak went to two weeks of orientation, and I looked for (and found!) jobs before learning that I was accepted to Carolina Law. I started a Mary Kay business days before I learned that I was in law school and have been active with it ever since. Burak and I started graduate school on the very same day. We live seven minutes from his school and twelve minutes from my school. The ability and necessity to drive everywhere and to actually be there quickly was a huge culture shock for us after not owning a car for more than a year and using the metro to get around.

September was filled with adjusting. We were quickly thrown into school after returning to the country. Every weekend I was buying items to complete our place since we had sold or given almost everything away before we left for Spain. We were learning how to balance school, our personal life, and outside interests while settling into our new place, city, state, and country.

In October, Burak turned 28, and we both had our much-needed Fall Breaks. I spent mine in Austin and San Antonio visiting family, going to a Mary Kay summit, speaking to my Rotary club, emptying our Austin storage, and seeing friends. Burak stayed at home and enjoyed a nice break and did a lot of homework!

In November, we realized that exams were right around the corner and loved the idea of a Thanksgiving break! I ran a 5K Turkey Trot on an unfamiliar path that wasn’t marked and was quite hilly. Even though it hurt, it was fun getting back into my running routine that was cut short by all the travel and changes. Later, we hosted my brother, David, for a long weekend for Thanksgiving where we co-hosted a dinner for eighteen people, mostly international students.

Now in December, I have spent the last week holed up in my house studying for law exams with one more left before I fly off for three weeks of break. Luckily, we are both students and have exams around the same time. We understand what the other is going through and can give each other advice and support. We toggle between studying and taking a mental break. Needless to say, the cordless headphones for the TV have been one of our best investments for our modest apartment: when one of us is studying, the other can still watch the TV or DVDs! My little sister, Emily, turns 21 today. I look forward to seeing a lot of my family soon.

Burak and I haven’t had much free time outside school; we sort of look at the early time in our school as the most important time when we learn all the fundamentals, so delay of gratification says “school first.” I can sum up my non-academic projects as speaking to Rotary clubs and conferences about my experiences abroad with Rotary, growing my Mary Kay business by holding parties and facials, helping out the Martinez Foundation in Barcelona, and trying to keep up with friends all over the world via email, my website and blog, ohh and spending time with Burak J

In Burak’s free time, he enjoys watching the TV shows on DVDs, Sopranos and Stargate, and working out at the gym. He actually studies a lot so I don’t see him doing much more than these activities.

That sums up most of our year. As for our families, they are all doing well. My sister, Emily (21), is in college in Dallas. Burak’s sister, Burcu (21), studies economics in Australia. David (22), my brother, studies at Milligan College in Tennessee. My parents are doing well in San Antonio and growing their business. Burak’s mom is doing well; she stays sometimes with Burak’s cousin at the beach house and sometimes with her parents in their city.

For the holidays, Burak and I are blessed with school break schedules:
I have three weeks off and will spend all of them on the road visiting family. From December 16 – 24, I will be in the Kansas City, Missouri area. From December 24 – January 1, I will be in El Paso visiting the Powers. From January 1 – 6, I will be in San Antonio visiting my family and friends in Austin and San Antonio. I return to North Carolina on the 6th and go straight to a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar conference in Burlington for the weekend. Burak has five weeks off. He will be in El Paso the same time I will and plans to spend the rest of the time relaxing and working on job interview preparation and his strategy consulting case preparation.

We are extremely grateful for all our blessings. As I sit back and reread our letter, I really can’t believe how we were able to do it all. We hope and pray for the best for you and your family. Thanks for your impact in our lives. Keep in touch. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years!



Dunkin' Brands sold for $2.43 billion

Dunkin' Brands sold for $2.43 billion

I always wondered why there were so many DD in Europe. Now I understand. And the famous 'Time to make the donuts' guy just recently died too.

December 14, 2005

Europe for two, under $1,200

A game you can win
By J.M. Hirsch
The Associated Press

Tuesday, December 13, 2005; Posted: 11:39 a.m. EST (16:39 GMT)
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Europe. For two. Five days, four nights. Total cost: as little as possible.

First of all, there is a thing called couch surfing? Isn't more like couch crashing? Anyway, talk to me about that, I had 32 guest in my Barcelona apartment most of them from Feb to June.

Second, I did a 3 week trip to 5 countries and only stayed in a hostel 3 nights of that time by staying with friends. I would be a little skeptical of staying with an absolute stranger for free as a solo woman traveler...but then again probably Europe would be the safest for that venture.

Third but not the least important, if anyone needs a travel writer, please, I would love to do it!! I have lived in 5 countries (3 of them for a year or more!) and have traveled to 20 plus countries. Anyway, I am in law school now but could do it during my breaks! :) Seriously!

Fourth, if anyone wants suggestions on how to travel through Europe for cheap, just let me know. I have been to most of all the main cities and several beaten paths as well. All on a student budget!

Ok, enough of my last law exam of my semester procrastination technique, I must return to Torts!!

Peace, Ruby

Die at your own risk, mayor proposes

Proposal: Residents should mind 'health in order not to die'

BIRITIBA MIRIM, Brazil (AP) -- There's no more room to bury the dead, they can't be cremated and laws forbid a new cemetery. So the mayor of this Brazilian farm town has proposed a solution: outlaw death.

Wish it was that easy!! People amaze me!

December 13, 2005

Popular toys of the last 100 years

'Must-have' items from decades past

I had a cabbage patch in the 80's and played Candy Land with my grandpa. It must have been one of his favorites! Where is Barbie in the list?

December 10, 2005

No babies? Italy blames its 'mamma's boys'

As it praises a mother who raised 11, the Vatican frets over low birth rate

By Stephen Weeke
Rome bureau chief
NBC News
Updated: 9:56 a.m. ET Nov. 14, 2005

Think this is sort of pathetic. I think the economy has a lot to do with the trend of postponing moving out of the parents house, getting married, having kids, etc. Europe-wide. I saw this living in Belgium and Spain a year each in this last 5 years.

December 8, 2005

The year of the Engagement and other rants on the subject

First Paris and Paris and now Nicole and her DJ, come on now! We know that basically these two came to fame for just being ditzy, rich girls, and connected, but these unsuccessful engagements were just great ways to continue the media frenzy, catapolt them in the spot light so they sell hand bags, jewelry, books, movies, tv shows, etc.

You know what? I am really getting tired of what America or America's media allows to be our Hollywood monarchy. This is just getting to be ridiculous.

Actors think that can sing, singers think they can act, models think they can act, actors took the jobs away from the models, and if you are in the spotlight you can write a children's book, design a hand bag, and receive tons of money (like you don't already have it) in free gifts from companies using you to advertise it.

When will this insanity stop? But that is another subject I could write about.

The only thing I can say, is lucky they were just unsuccessful engagements rather than unsuccessful marriages. But come on ladies, I know you might have flirted with the idea of getting settled and growing up, but marriage and engagement isn't a game and you shouldn't use it for fame.

Nicole Richie, Fiance Call Off Engagement

December 5, 2005

Law Exam Studying:Day 4 of completely unbothered studying.

Friday I studied 4 hours, Sat 7hrs , and Sun 7.5 hrs. Today should be 7.5 or more. Tomorrow is the first law exam of my life. The prof says we get a higher grade if we hand write instead of using our laptops which I have also bought the exam software just for these exams. I hope my hand doesn't cramp up for the 3 hours of writing tomorrow.

She is giving us 30 extra minutes to draft an outline for our answer. Hope that helps.

Well I am off to studies. Will work on Christmas letters and cards after the 10th (my closed book exam).

Ciao, rubes

Homeowners outsource holiday decorating

More hiring contractors to spruce up Christmas displays

December 1, 2005

My last day of my first semester of law school

Can't believe a semester of classes is over already. Maybe with age and more commitments, time flies faster.

I have exams on the 6th, 10th, and 15th of this new month. My sister turns 21 next week. I have spent the last 40 min reading news, gossip, and various articles on World AIDS Day. At least I wont have to be rushing my coffee down but I only now have 15 min to take a shower and dry my hair, dont think that is goign to happen.

Well I better try....

‘Woe is us’ — bad grammar permeates language

Fortune 500 companies spend $3 billion annually teaching basic English

November 26, 2005

Early Bird shopping - Black (and Blue) Friday

Wow! I never noticed or maybe ever cared about this shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The ads caught my eye on Tday and I thought, is it worth waking at 4:30am to hit the Walmart, Hecht's, etc. Early Bird sales?

So around midnight I decided against it. I woke up at 1030am, put some clothes on and ran to Walmart. I had fun trying to find the early bird brochure b/c they were all gone and then trying to find the items advertised in the chaos. I ended up with a crock pot 4q. and Pop Culture Dvd 2. I saved money on both and wanted them anyway.

Then I had a set of pearls on reserve for me at the mall but had this weird thing telling me to go to Kohl's. It was just across the hiway from Walmart. You might think of me as nuts, but I walked in, saw the brochure and saw a set of fresh water cultured pearl for $59.99 regularly $200! I bought it on the spot b/c I had already decided what I wanted in pearls the previous day at the mall. Then I ran around and realized the early bird special ended at 1pm. I quickly gathered a set of 6 games in one for Burak, a table cloth and place mats, gloves, and ribbons, and hit the register by 12:56am. I haven't figured out how much I saved, but I sure did spend a lot this week.

My cell phone (with a camera feature and everything) fell in the toilet and didn't come back to life on Wednesday. So that was $150 right there. I also bought a cool laptop backpack for $64 (with tax) so that I don't get made fun of by my law school friends and husband for using my Jansport from high school that it ripping apart.

Total including the Thanksigiving dinner stuff I bought earlier this week: around $500. Ouch, I am done for the holidays! But it was fun taking part of the crazy American capatlist experience known as Early Bird shopping on Black Friday (the day the stores hope to get out of the red)! I think I will do it again but be more organized and maybe take a team with me (with cell phones or walkie talkies.) :)

Law School Exams Dec 6-15, 2005

My law school exams are coming soon. I have just 1.5 weeks until my first one. I have been very stressed recently and wake up with droppy eyelids (a sign of stress in my body). Anyway, too much information, but I guess I am just saying I wont be in the loop - emailing or posting or hanging out - for the next 3 weeks when this is all over. The grade from each 3 to 4 hour exam determines my grade for the semester.

Ok, I am off to work!
Signing off, ruby

I love hosting parties and making my house cosy!

I think I have really learned something about myself for sure. I love entertaining at my place and cooking up various themed parties. I also like making my house cosy.

On Thanksgiving, my husband and I co-hosted a 15 person Thanksgiving with international students and various people from all over the US who attend Duke MBA and needed a place to go for Thanksgiving.

But the main reason I wanted to make my post was to note these two sites that I like:
a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

Can you believe Rachel Ray has her own magazine!? As of few of my friends have mentioned, we think Rachel Ray is out to take over Martha (and then the world)!

And what is up with this Tyra show, is she trying to get ready to take over Oprah!?

I am having fun returning to the US and taking up the pop culture. :)

November 22, 2005

Mulled Wine, Eggnog, Glogg Recipes

All about mulled wine, egg nog, groog
I had hot wine in Belgium, Poland, and Germany. They also have it in France and Sweden. It is sort of like hot Sangria.

November 2, 2005

Pakistan rape victim speaks in US

November 1, 2005

So now there is comment spam?

I love this. I had to change a feature on my blog so that a person leaving a comment had to type in the word that they saw and prevent me from receiving comment spam from random people sending mass messages to blogs. What is next?

I think when someone talks too much, I am just going to call it comment spam. It just sounds better than mouth diaherra (sp) or whatever people call it.

Anyway, I was awoken for the 2nd day in a row between 7:46am and 7:48am in the morning (yesterday it was a text message from someone and today my husband called to say he might have lost his wallet!!!) when I still had an hour or so left of sleep.

I guess I should go take a shower, read more Torts, make more coffee (already had 4 cups), and go to school.

Wife arrested after calling her husband ‘lazy’

In Belgium, Walloon husband accuses Flemish wife of racism

When I read the headline I figured (excuse my not being politically correct) it was from somewhere in the Middle East or maybe an oppressive Asian country. No, it is from none other than Belgium, where I spent one good year of my life!! :)

To read the article click here

Ok, I just read it. Yeah, it doesn't surprise me a Flemish person would say that having seen the divide between the two groups of people. I lived with the Walloons in the south of Belgium. It isn't just a language difference between the two, it has a lot to do with culture (which is usually very tied to language)and finances. The Flemish side, in the north, is richer.

But it seems, as a law student, just to be a dispute between a couple. Anyway, this just proves what I learned once more when I visited at Christmas, they ain't getting along them two, the Flemings and the Wallons.

October 30, 2005

Balancing law school and Mary Kay, making new goals

I just got back from that trip to TX where I not only saw my family but I went to a Mary Kay summit. I got really excited about my Mary Kay business but then I came back home and realized I had a lot of reading to do.

My first goal going into it was to break even and see what I thought about it along the way. I am almost even, thanks to my 30 facials in 30 days challenge. That is also why I haven't had enough time to read. I had a meeting this last Monday for a couple of hours then a party on Wednesday night for 3 hours! Today I have a facial as well and have to make a large order.

Anyway, I think that was I was going to write in my past post was that after you reach your goals it is sometimes like reaching the top of a hill but then seeing a taller mountain near by and thinking, 'Darn, I reached my goals and now what?' as you see that there are other mountains to climb.

Sort of along with that thought, I seem to be saying ' you have to choose your battles' a lot more frequently these days. I think that is so true.

I was pissed off when I was in high school that I was human, 'why?' you might ask. I wished I could be super woman and not need to sleep and be able to do anything I wanted regardless of time constraints. Now, without being too cynical, I just realize I have to be realistic. I need to just choose 3 or 4 things and do them well instead of letting people down. I didn’t realize this in high school.

But back to goals, so I got into law school, where do I go from here? I am almost in the black with Mary Kay after just 2 months, so where now?

Law school - I think it is very important to reread your interest statement that you wrote to get into school and also write something down before you start that says why you went there in the first place. You get a little confused and overwhelmed once you get into it.

My current goals with law: Graduate, take the TX and/or whatever Bar that I need to practice in DC. Work for the US Govt for a few years, preferably on the Hill, then go back to Austin to settle down for a little bit (ie have kids, buy a house and dog). Then go back to DC. :)

My current goals with Mary Kay: Continue to break even, meet the consistency challenge for 6 months, get some team members, and have fun.

Goals are really important. It only happens every other year or so that I have to evaluate my short-term and/or long-term goals. Each time can be a little depressing or maybe it is just the growing pains of having left that comfortable place, reaching what you had worked on forever! (I have wanted to go to law school since I was 15), and stretching your paradigm to the next level. That stuff hurts. It makes you question why you are where you are in the first place. In the end, I think that is best. That way you don't wake up at 50 or 60 wondering why you are where you are. You get to have a self-evaluation every year or two so you stay on the right path.

Well, obviously I have a lot on my mind and I am procrastinating from my law reading. I love to read Torts first because those cases are interesting (when people sue others for negligence, etc.)

October 27, 2005

What to do once you reach your goals?

You celebrate and make more!

You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(16% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

October 26, 2005

Trip to good ol San Anton - Fall Break

I just returned from a 5-day trip to Austin and San Antonio. It was jam packed with activities with just enough unstructured time to see friends and family.

I flew into Austin and was picked up by a friend I met in Barcelona. She is a real estate agent in Austin now and went to UT. We had lunch and caught up. Then she dropped me off at my Rotary Club's hotel for my speech.

I spoke to the South Austin Rotary club and thanked them for sponsoring me as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Spain. It was a success and my mom and aunt were there to welcome me to Texas.

That afternoon, I hired a locksmith to drill thru the lock on my 5 by 5 storage unit Burak and I had had for 3 years. Aunt Anita, mom, and I emptied the storage and drove down to San Antonio.

Thursday was a free day and I spent it with family. My uncle Mark, missionary in Mexico, happened to be passing through that very same day so I got to see him too. I bought baby clothes for my cousin's 3-month old so he could give it to his granddaughter.

Friday and Saturday I went to a Mary Kay Summit. I saw the lady who gave my very first MK makeup party at my 15 or 16th Birthday. I learned how to do my eyeshadow from her. :) She and her daughter are both/still in MK. It was a great experience and very inspiring.

Sunday I went to my former church to visit old friends. I went to lunch with my parents then went through more boxes.

Monday AM I fly back to NC and my friend picked me up. I am still trying to catch up on my sleep and reading.

I now need a break from my fall break!!!

October 16, 2005

Reading, Reading, Reading

Law school involves a lot of reading. Then you are learning all these new things. Your head goes crazy thinking and internalizing the new info. I have to give myself at least one full day off or else I go crazy. I really believe those ppl who said you must work out in law school to relieve the stress. Also it is a great non-mental activity.

August 25, 2005

First Day of Orientation - Aug 25

I am so excited/anxious that I dont know what to do. I have been trained to wake up early. I get out of bed around 530 and I dont have to be at school until 800am. I try to catch up on emails. I have so many emails in my inbox.

I am going to make so many first impressions today. Oh my goodness...I am thinking what to wear. This will probably be my very last 'First Day of School' in my life...but who knows.

July 25, 2005

Cool Culture testing website

Eat wisely to reduce breast cancer risk

Following a smart diet strategy could cut likelihood of disease
By Karen Collins, R.D.
Special to
Updated: 9:14 a.m. ET July 22, 2005

July 23, 2005

An ode to my exchange year in Belgium from my dear friend Gomo

May 5, 2005
This time has moved so far forward some memories just feel too far gone. I found a box of old letters from you guys, more particularly those you wrote to me on my departure.

I guess one real thing about my life is the depth of my bond with the few incredible souls I've been blessed to befriend here on this earth. Some things one can't explain and for the most parts some things I wish I could embrace forever with the same degree of warmth and closeness...but as this journey moves on, things get relegated behind the scenes as others more pertinent close in..memories are lost in the motion of things...People I once had right next to me become abstract souls existing only in my dreams, my memories or the objects we exchanged.

This is how I found each one of you and for as long as I live, I will love you dearly missing with each passing moment your presence in my life:

Ruby: I don't know many people who have set a target, focused on it and actually hit the mark on point. I don't know many philosophers who can cook and play just as well as they philosophise. Your warmth toward me and our endless "deep" conversations, our exchange on issues of life and the heart...nothing can compare with that!

---my response on July 23, 2005

Thank you for your kind words. I have to say we must have all been put in Verviers for a reason. I haven't found the same mix of a fun, deep, and adventurous crew all in one place in the past 5 years since Belgium.

I remember being very deep and philosophical that year and I know I am at the core that way. I loved our conversations. I find that that part of me doesn't come out easily unless I find like minded ppl. As I am about to finish 13 months abroad within the next 2 weeks, I am sort of searching for that deep, introspective side I experienced as an 18 year old in Belgium. I hope that comes back and something sparks it inside me. I hope that the underlying truth about adults mentioned in the Little Prince is not what I am experiencing.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for keeping in touch with us all. And as I try to contemplate my most recent year abroad, I will try to reflect once again on the year that affected me the most in Belgium.

Stockholm, Sweden

Raining and cold and it is late July!! Ugh. We arrived by bus after an 8 hour ride from Copenhagen. We went promptly to our friends house and just crashed. We slept in a comfortable bed for a few hours and have just watched tv all day. Our hostess has internet, tv in many languages, free laundry services, and well is super nice so we are very comfortable. We are thinking of actually leaving her place for the seeing Stockholm tomorrow. But, maybe we will just stay inside another day.

We saw a really unique clothing dryer and the laundry facilities of her place had two different ironing machines for sheets and large scale ironing. We went to the grocery store and were amazed by several new products. We took a lot of photos.

Now we are just watching Chicago on DVD and eating popcorn. How American? Monday I am going to speak to the only English-speaking Rotary Club in Stockholm, RC Stockholm International. After Monday, I will have spoken in seven countries in three languages.

Night, night, rubes :)

July 21, 2005


Did you know Legos are Danish? Lego means Play Well. Also Hans Christen Anderson wrote the Mermaid, the ugly Duckling, and the Emperor with no clothes, etc. Also, Walt Disney got the idea for Disneyland from Tivoli, an amusement park in the center of Copenhagen.

We had a short 1.5 days here but had a great time with Lene and her fiance, Lasse.

We are off tonight for an 8 hour bus ride to Stockholm where we will stay with a friend we met in Barcelona almost a year ago.

Signing out, rubes

July 19, 2005

Amsterdam so far....mariah carey and the hague

Quick note: We stayed the first night with a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar living in Amsterdam from El Paso, Texas. She introduced us to her friends and showed us around.

Saturday we went to a hookah bar, a couple of great resturants, and got kicked out of a bar at 1am when they closed. That is sooo early compared to Spanish time!

Sunday we went on a canal tour of the houses then I spotted Mariah Carey and our tourguides ran after her. We went to an Australian rest. and had half price cocktails at happy hour. It was my first pina colada in ages.

Monday, Larae (the scholar), and I went to the Hague just an hour from Amsterdam to the International Criminal Tribunal of the Former Yugoslavia to see Slobadan Milosevic. He was there and he looked so relaxed. We stayed for a couple of hours and fun listening to a general answer the lawyer's questions. There a ton of translators from Serbian to English and also the two languages into French, etc. We went home and made an Italian dinner for her friends and Burak joined in on the fun.

Tuesday, I went with Larae to her club, the Rotary Club of Amsterdam. It is the oldest club in Holland. I spoke briefly in English and then they went back to Dutch. They had bread, meat slices, cheese, and croquettes. They served milk and coffee. I was having culture shock. After all my Rotary mtgs in Spain, I excepted wine to be served a least. Milk for lunch!

Tonight we are going to do some last minute Amsterdam stuff and we are off Wed am for Copenhagen to stay with a friend for a night.

Sorry I wish I could write more. Oh yeah they have an animal ambulance and pudding in a milk container called 'Vla!'

July 15, 2005

Powers European Excursion - coming to a town near you!

Burak and I are about to leave Spain after having lived here for the last 11 months. Before we leave Europe, we are going to run around for a few weeks to various cities. Here is the list just in case you are there, we can stay with you, we can go out for dinner or a drink and catch up and/or you have any advice for our voyage.

July 16 - 20 - Amsterdam/Rotterdam/Hague
July 20 - 21 - Copenhagen (we are going to visit a Danish friend)
July 21 - 26 - Stockholm (staying with a Swedish friend)
July 26 - 27 - Berlin
July 27 - ? - Munich ( Have two German friends there…might be able to stay with them)
July 29 - 31 - find our way to Hungary
August 1 - 6 - Budapest and surrounding areas (Staying with an old friend of Burak's)
August 6 - 9 - Barcelona ( staying with a friend b/c we moved out of our place)
August 9 -10 - Washington, D.C. ( pick up our stuff!)
August 11 ------- ? Durham, NC (going settle down for.... a couple of years :) )


July 14, 2005

London bombs spur Congress to rethink visas

Under waiver program, jihadists from U.K., other nations can enter U.S.
By Tom Curry
National affairs writer
Updated: 7:49 p.m. ET July 13, 2005

July 13, 2005

Pamplona - Running of the Bulls 2005

I thought it was really dirty, too many drunk people, and the only thing that made it different from a regular 24/7 party was there were bulls...Anyway, that is just my opinion.

More to come..

June 30, 2005

Manuela Martinez Foundation - Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Project

As a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar living in Barcelona, Spain for a year, I was searching for a service project to give back to my new community and fulfill one of my duties as a scholar. Only a few months after arrival, I was contacted by my scholarship coordinator about the Wulf family needing economical housing for their one week visit to a special doctor in Barcelona, Dr. Martinez founder of the Manuela Martinez Foundation ( The Ronald McDonald House, where the family usually stayed, was full at the last minute and couldn’t accommodate them. They were arriving from North Carolina in just a few days. A hotel wasn’t an easy solution because of its high cost for the visiting family of three for a week and also that they needed a kitchen available to prepare special food for the patient. I quickly went to the first Rotary meeting I could and luckily found an assistant governor of the district. He emailed my request for housing to all the clubs in the Barcelona area and within a day I had located a Rotarian’s apartment for the family.

The Foundation was created for the research, diagnosis and treatment of children with peroxisomal disorders and other lipid diseases. After speaking with the Wulf family, a trustee of the Foundation, and various others, I learned that Dr. Martinez is the only doctor in the world successful in treating this rare disease and that is why she has patients flying in with their families from all over the world. Dr. Martinez doesn’t charge for her services and has been working for the Foundation for a few years without a salary because there is little money and awareness for the rare disease and she is so passionate about her work and helping her patients.

From that point on, I have continued to find housing for patient families, developed a relationship with the Wulf family and Dr. Martinez, organized a benefit dinner for the Foundation, and spoke about the Foundation at all my scholar presentations. I have helped raise more than 800 euros for the Foundation just from Rotarians and Rotary clubs in Barcelona. I have also raised much needed awareness for the relatively young Foundation and given hope to Dr. Martinez and her patients. I am currently preparing a brief summary of my work this last year and suggestions and contact information for the three future scholars to Barcelona so that they can continue this worthy project. My work with the Foundation, I believe, has made the largest difference in people’s lives during my Ambassadorial Scholar year.

June 30, 2005

June 17, 2005

Waitlisted to 3 Law schools in the US for Fall 05

Dear readers,

This is sort of a weird idea but I guess I just wanted to get it out there.

I am currently waitlisted to Duke Law, UNC Law, and on the shortened waitlist to Northwestern. If anyone knows of ways to get off the waitlist and get admitted, please let me know.

Ruby :)

June 16, 2005

May Update: Speeches, prom, and a fairy tale castle

June 16, 2005
Dearest Friends, Family, and Rotarians,

My Rotary Scholar year is nearing its end. I am just in the ‘closing up shop’ phase where I am saying my goodbyes, sending out the pictures people requested, selling my furniture, and making sure I have done everything in Barcelona so I don’t regret having missed out on something later.

In summation of May, I kept up with my normal rapid pace. I presented to Rotary audiences 5 times including at the District 2210 Conference in Segovia (Spain). My sister visited for a week and my brother moved in to our place. My former college roommate/bridesmaid visited me from the States. I kept busy between hosting my guests, maintaining my English classes, promoting the Martinez Foundation Dinner, which was held on the 9th of June, and also putting the finishing touches on the Americans for Informed Democracy conference that was held June 3-5.

As I turn 24 years old today (June 16th) and also need to write up the final report for my scholarship year, I am in an introspective mood trying to summarize what I have learned, how I have grown, and what I will take away from this wonderful experience.

For more details and photos, continue below, and check out my website at:

The Full Update:

May 1st was a crazy day. I was finishing the last day of my Camino experience. Another scholar (Christanne) and I went the wrong way and walked in the dark in the woods for about an hour with just a small flashlight guiding us. (We started the day from where we had ended the night before instead of just following arrows around the city which we didn’t see that morning.) We had left extremely early so that we could make it to the Cathedral on time for the pilgrims’ noon mass. We learned of our mistake when fellow pilgrims who left 30 minutes to an hour after us actually caught up with us early in the walk. This last leg also included a large uphill climb, and it rained most of the 4-hour walk. Because the other pilgrims had caught up with us, and we were all rushing to make it to the noon mass, we didn’t want to stop and take a break. In the end, I think I walked without a bathroom or any type of break for at least 4 hours going uphill in the rain.

Reaching the Cathedral was great knowing that I had walked 120 kilometers of the Camino. Some say that arriving at Cathedral is the goal of the Camino. But although there is a destination to reach, it is never the reaching the destination that makes you fulfilled. It should be the journey that you have learned from and appreciated that makes you walk away more complete and happy that you did it.
It was a bit anti-climactic to arrive to a large Cathedral filled with a lot of people all crowding around for a place to sit or stand before the mass started. We arrived just before noon. We had walked 120 kilometers, and we didn’t even have a place to sit. And for some pilgrims, they could care less about going to the mass. I didn’t like how the Camino had become a secular thing to do. I guess everyone has his/her right to do it, but minus my own personal reflection time, I did not like the lack of devotion to Christianity.

I walked away with a sense of accomplishment, the appreciation for nature and ‘roughing it,’ having had plethora of reflection time, and the continued realization that is all about the journey, but not the destination.

May 2nd I wanted to start walking again in the morning, but my schedule said that I had to catch a train to catch a bus to catch a plane back to Barcelona. When I got to the airport in A Coruna (near Santiago), I just walked around the parking a lot as I waited for my plane; I could not stop walking! I was going to miss walking the Camino.

I can be a bit crazy sometimes. I realized this when I also read that the same day I was returning to Barcelona from the Camino, I was speaking in another town an hour away from my house at a dinner meeting. As soon as I made it home, I put on my suit and headed to Sabadell to speak to the Rotary club. I had to crash at a friend’s house that night because the trains stopped when the meeting was over. Note: Rotary dinner meetings in Spain start at 9pm and usually don’t completely end until around midnight. Hence, every Monday night I come home at midnight from my local Rotary club’s meetings.

The following day, May 3rd, I had another speech. I presented to the first Rotary club in Barcelona, which was chartered in 1922. I met a wonderful member, the first woman member of the club, and have kept in touch with her ever since then. She is originally from Switzerland, but has lived in Barcelona for 40 years.

On the 5th, I held a Texas Exes meeting and met a friendly Texan in town and his Spanish girlfriend. Burak and I had a great time getting to know them, and I am actually having my birthday party this weekend at his place near the beach.
From the 6th to the 10th, an old Belgian friend whom I met in Texas when I was 16 at a RYLA conference visited us with his fiancée. We all spent some evenings together and went out for dinner. They had a great time touring the town and it was nice to see a friend that I have kept in touch with internationally for 8 years.

May 9th and 10th I subbed 6th grade at Burak’s international school. If I ever teach something besides at the university level, I really like 6th grade. They are young enough to respect you, but old enough to be responsible, like mini-adults.
On May 9th, I did something most Rotary scholars probably aren’t allowed to do. I invited a friend (30-something-year-old from Barcelona who works for the UN) to my Rotary club in Barcelona as a potential member. Normally only members can invite potential members. Anyway, she has been attending the meetings for the last month and is interested in joining, so I de facto sponsored a new Rotary member without being a Rotary member myself!!

On the 14th, David, my 22-year-old brother, arrived from the States. Within about 20 minutes of this arrival, Burak and I had to leave to be chaperones at Burak’s school’s high school prom. It was crazy timing. So we hooked David up with a friend to go hang out with for the night and lent David a cell phone. We welcomed him, gave him a set of keys and the phone, and wished him luck for his first night in Barcelona. The Barcelona soccer team won the Spanish League so it was a fun night to be in town.

The prom was great. I had the chance to go to prom with my husband! We were two out of the six chaperones for about the entire high school. Since it is such a small school, one class per grade, they invited freshmen through seniors to attend. The great thing about this prom was that I was young enough to recognize the songs and dance with the group and old enough not to care what they thought. You know how at that age you are always making sure you ‘look’ cool because you have to protect your image? It was a great chance to be a ‘kid’ again.

On Monday (a holiday), all three of us went to a local park. The park has a small lake, a huge fountain, and lots of walkways. We rented a boat and went under a very low bridge a few times, took a lot of photos, and left David on a small island so that he could get a funny picture. We also rented a 3-person bike and took turns pedaling all our weight around. It was more of a workout than a leisure activity. It was a lot of fun to be with my brother and husband doing silly stuff.

The next day, Emily, my 20-year-old sister, arrived from Texas. It was her first time in Spain as well. She came for a total of one week so we tried to make the most of the experience with us all being together for the first time in a year.
As timing would have it, I had previously booked my flight to Madrid so that I could speak at the District 2210 Conference in Segovia (2 hours by train from Madrid). I suggested that David and Emily go to Madrid and meet me there once I was done with my speech.

Segovia is a beautiful little gem of a town. I had never heard about it before. It possesses a large Roman aqueduct in the heart of the town, an alcazar (palace) that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and a beautiful gothic cathedral. I arrived the night before I was presenting so I used the time to relax, explore, and prepare for my speech. To make an embarrassing moment public, I ordered a sandwich (bocadillo) for dinner at a place I had just decided to eat at since I was too tired to search for something better/cheaper. When the waiter brought me two small bite-sized sandwiches, one containing ham, I told him I had ordered the vegetarian sandwich. He told me that it was just the tapas to go with my wine and my sandwich was still on its way! I felt like an idiot.  I decided to just enjoy my time alone in Segovia by calling a lot of friends and catching up while I sat in a tranquil plaza with a fountain.

The next day was a bit ridiculous, I am not sure when people say they like my stories if they want to hear all of them. Basically, the hostel I stayed at wouldn’t let me store my things between check out and when I planned to leave town for the hotel of the conference (only about 2-3 hours of time). Therefore, a scholar who had met up with me that morning and I carried our luggage up and down hills (I felt like I was on the Camino again!) until we had seen most of the sights in Segovia and took a cab to the hotel.

In a few hours with all my luggage on me, I saw the Alcazar, a 12-sided church built by the Knights of Templar to hold a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on, and about 7 monks singing at mass at a monastery.

We checked into our hotel room at the conference and took a break from the heat and carrying the luggage. Another scholar met up with us, and we rehearsed our combined 15-minute speech. We were nervous to speak in front of the 300-400 people in Spanish, but we tried to keep each other calm.

I started the speech by saying thank you to the Rotarians for their work and the opportunity to have this scholarship. I then briefly spoke about myself and what I had done over the year in Spain. At the point where I was to say I will return to the States and move to North Carolina to hopefully study law this fall, I froze and couldn’t speak. The realization that I would have to leave and the emotion that that evoked overcame me, and I couldn’t continue, but just had tears in my eyes. I mustered whatever I could find in me to whisper in Spanish over the microphone to the presidents and secretaries of all the Rotary clubs in northern Spain, ‘ I don’t want to go back.’

After the two other scholars finished their parts, we were given a standing ovation. We loaded on buses and traveled to a small medieval village for dinner. On the bus ride there, the district governor told my fellow scholar that our presentation saved the beginning of the conference with its genuine emotion and sincerity. We added heart to the opening session, and he was extremely grateful. I was glad to hear that they realized that it wasn’t that I was nervous about speaking, but it was that it actually HIT me that I wouldn’t be able to live as a scholar for much longer in Spain.

For beautiful pictures of my time in Segovia, click on this link or copy and paste it to a new window. You will see a short slideshow of my time there.

The next morning, I left for Madrid. It was a difficult choice. I had my brother and sister in Madrid, but I had worked so hard to go to the District Conference. I wanted to use that time to promote the scholarship so that this district would start offering the scholarship in the near future. I figured I did my best to both parties. I arrived where my brother and sister were staying, and we started our family reunion in Madrid.

Saturday and Sunday, we ran around to tourist sites and took a lot of photos. When we got bored, we would just start taking funny pictures. We got really good at taking pictures of us jumping in mid-air with people, museum, palaces, fountains, lakes, etc. in the background. Basically, we spent almost no money, but had fun just being together and possessing almost a thousand dollars worth of camera equipment to capture all our (silly) moments. Here are some photos:

It was sad to see Emily leave after the week passed by so quickly (just like this year). We had a great time, and she got inspired to study art in Europe in the future.

The very next day, I was subbing high school by day and had to present the Martinez Foundation Benefit Dinner at the monthly meeting of all the presidents of all the Rotary clubs in Barcelona at night. The president of my club told me that he would present the benefit dinner (my Scholar project) for me, but he must have forgotten all about it because I found out he was in Turkey for two weeks at that time. I called a president of a club I had presented to before and found out when and where I would find the meeting so that I could present it myself.

I came in a suit (of course) and was quickly recognized by the attendees since most had seen me speak in Segovia just a few days prior. I planned on just presenting the dinner, but I was invited by one Rotarian to stay and before I knew it, I was joining them all at the dinner table.

There were about 16 people at the dinner in the end, and I was one of the two females. They were very nice, and a couple of them reassured me that I was welcome there so I shouldn’t be nervous speaking to them. In the end, I presented the Martinez Foundation, the upcoming dinner, ways to donate if they couldn’t attend the event, and also got in contact with the clubs I hadn’t yet presented to. It was extremely successful.

Later that week, Ann, my college roommate and bridesmaid, was traveling through Spain with a friend. They stopped by in Barcelona to see me that weekend. It was great having an old friend come visit me and pick up our chats as if no time had passed.

At the same time Ann was in town, I was hosting from afar the Wulf family (Matthew Wulf, 7, is a patient of Dr. Martinez) that was in town for a week of treatment staying at a Rotarian’s apartment. I helped this family find housing last November and that is how I learned about the Foundation. We had dinner together one night and talked about the upcoming Benefit Dinner. We will be living just 3 hours away from each other next year in North Carolina.

The next day, I spoke to Rotary Club Barcelona Diagonal at lunch and updated my club, RCB Millennium, at dinner. I was running a public relations campaign to get awareness for the Benefit Dinner and the Foundation in general.

On the 31st, I had the joy of subbing kindergarten for my third time. I love those little rascals.

I know June is half way over, but you will soon learn why it took me 2 weeks to write this update.

June’s events will include / have included:

- The Americans for Informed Democracy Barcelona Conference (3rd – 5th)
- Martinez Foundation Fundraising Dinner (9th) and raising more than 800 euros from donations alone
- Rotary/Rotaract speeches to 5-7 clubs in the Barcelona area
- Finding out that I am on the shortened waitlist at Northwestern Law, the waitlist at UNC Law, and still waiting to hear from Duke Law
- Finishing my year-long English class with the 4- and 5-year-olds
- Starting a new English class at Wrigley’s (the gum company) in BCN
- Hosting 8 people from Germany, France, and the US.
- Birthday dinner and party (Tapas dinner - 16th and Beach party - 18th)
- Selling furniture and packing some stuff up
- Celebrating 3 years of marriage (June 22nd)
- Going to Mallorca for a couple of days as a second honeymoon

Hope all is well, take care of yourself, and keep in touch.

Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar 2004-2005
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

June 15, 2005

Festivals in Spain

You know I think a writer of an article regarding the Running of the Bulls basically captured the essence behind most of the festivals in Spain when he was describing San Fermin in Pamplona, 'shear madness.'

In my last 10 months, I have been to Zaragoza for the festival of St. Pilar, Barcelona for Le Merce,Valencia for Las Fallaa, Sevile for La Feria de Abril, and walked the last 120 Km. of the Camino de Santiago. In July, I will be apart of the most famous of Spanish festivals, San Fermin 'Running of the Bulls' in Pamplona.

Pamplona: Spain’s morning run
Running with the bulls in Fiesta de San Fermin

June 6, 2005

May 25, 2005

Found some BCN/Spain websites

May 8, 2005

April's Update:Camino de Santiago and more!

May 6, 2005
Dearest Friends, Family, and Rotarians,

Ten months ago today, Burak and I left the US. We have since lived in Turkey for two months and Spain for eight months. With just 3 months until we have to fly back to D.C., I am trying to pump myself up for returning while continuing to make the most of every minute over here.

In summation of April, I think I did a good job of seizing the moment. I visited Andalusia (southern Spain) and went to La Feria in Seville, spoke to 8 Rotary clubs, subbed high school for a week, hosted 8 people, and walked 120 km of the Camino de Santiago.

Furthermore, I am continuously organizing the Americans for Informed Democracy conference and Martinez Foundation Fundraising Dinner both being held in June in Barcelona.

For more details and photos, continue below, and check out my website at:

The Full Update:

On the 2nd, Burak and I held one of our monthly parties. This time we had my Belgian host brother and his girlfriend visiting. We also had two Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars (one living in Basque country and the other living in Italy). That night we learned that the Pope died. It was a sad and historical moment.

That Monday, I had a full Rotary schedule with a speech to Rotary Club Barcelona Europa and my club, RC BCN Millennium. It was fun but draining to public speak in Spanish at both meetings. I think it is sort of funny how I am not scared to speak publicly in a foreign language. I guess I have had a lot of training.

On the 6th, I was asked to speak at Burak’s high school’s Career Day regarding International Relations careers. I was happy to speak about something I enjoy even though I honestly think I have more to learn and do before I can be an expert on the subject. Within that day alone, I found two speakers for my June Americans for Informed Democracy conference. One of those speakers is the Consul General for the US in Barcelona and the other is a Human Rights Officer for the UN in Geneva. I guess when you give, you receive.

On the 8th, Burak and I went to the director of his school’s party. It started at 4pm. I really thought that was a typo because parties don’t start that early over here. It wasn’t. We didn’t leave until 1am or so. I think it is funny how I am at a point in life when I realize the teachers I always looked up to (and still do), are now in my peer group. I am even a high school substitute teacher. It is a weird moment in life when you realize you can be a HS teacher.

So quite tired the morning after the party, we hosted 3 Fuqua (Duke’s Business School) students/alumni at our house for tea and snacks. Two were studying here on a term abroad and one has been living here for a while. We chatted about the school, life in Durham, and job prospects. Only at the end of the time did we realize we had met one of them before on our visit last year to Duke. He was from Brazil and we learned he was friends with our Brazilian friend that hosted us at Duke last May. He was also the person that organized the Brazilian music at the Fuqua Friday event we attended. No wonder he looked so familiar!

That same Saturday, a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar (Pam) arrived while she was on her way back to Spain from a Europe trip before returning to the States. I coordinated a Rotary Scholar Tapas Dinner with the 2 other scholars in town and we all had a blast.

Later that same day, Sabi, arrived. He was an exchange student to El Paso the same year Burak was there and lived with the same host family as Burak. Sabi stayed with us for 10 days and the guys had a lot of beer and catching up to do.

On the 11th, I spoke to Rotary Club Barcelona ’92. They were really nice. It was a little intimidating walking into a meeting speaking to a group of men in my 2nd language, but I am getting used to that as well. They asked me some tough
questions. One was something regarding ‘what do you think about governments that adhere strictly to one religion?’. For example, Spain has had a strong tie to the Catholic church for a long time and has recently had more of a separation between the church and state. I told them that after living in five countries, I like the separation of church and state as seen in the US and I also like having a Christian ideology from our Founders. As a woman in Turkey, although the government is secular, it was difficult because their predominant religion of the country affects the culture heavily which affects the government. Trying to be diplomatic in a foreign language is a skill I am still perfecting.

The next day, I flew to Malaga in the wee hours of the morning (southern Spain) and was picked up my a scholar, Christanne, and her dad at the airport. We then drove to Granada to see the Alhambra, a well preserved, old Moorish-style fortress. For a late lunch we met up with Pam and the other Granada Rotary scholars. We then drove on to Seville where we would stay for the week to enjoy the annual Feria de Abril.
The Feria de Abril is a weeklong party in Seville where the town dresses up in flamenco dresses and traditional suits and drinks and dances until dawn. This is considered a nice break after the seriousness of the Easter week which is just a few weeks before the fair. I arrived with no fancy dress, but within no time, with lots of help from scholars and host moms, I looked the part as I pretended to dance the Sevillano.

Organizations, clubs, and companies sponsor these temporary restaurant/bar tents called ‘casetas.’ There are about 1,100 casetas in the fair park and in most cases you can only enter if you are a member or have tickets. At the height of the event, there are 2 million people at the fair.

Christanne, is a Rotary scholar in Seville, and had tickets to the Rotary caseta all week. We would arrive in the afternoon and not leave until the early morning. It was a tough schedule and I had to keep telling myself ‘you don’t get this chance very often in life’ so that I would keep up the pace. In the process, I presented the South Austin Texas Rotary banner to the Seville club and had a great time chatting with the Seville members.

In between going to the fair, I also went to an Arab bath and saw the Cathedral. The Cathedral in Seville made my mouth drop when I walked in (and I have seen a lot of cathedrals!). It is largest Gothic church in the world and the third largest church in general after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. It is said to hold the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The Arab bath was fun but a little disappointing after being in a real thing in Turkey. They ultimately recreated an Arab looking bath area and put in a variety of pools with various temperatures. My favorite was what they called the ‘Bano Turko’ which is a ‘Hamam’ in Turkish for bath. But really that bath was just like my wet vapor sauna in my local gym. It was exotic and I had a nice massage at the end. It also made me wonder if North Carolina would appreciate a ‘Hamam’?

Later in the week, a few of my Rotary club members from Barcelona planned to visit for the celebration as well. We had a lot of fun together when they arrived. After going to the fair on Friday afternoon, I returned home on Saturday around 5am, woke up at 8am, panicked, ran out the door with most of my luggage, and made my 8:55am flight to Barcelona. I want to blame my Rotary members for keeping me out so late, but I think it might have been my fault. :)

On the 17th, while our Hungarian friend was still here, we had a friend that I met in the Krakow airport visit me for 24 hours. She is an American studying in England and was on her way from Italy to Spain.

From the 18th to the 22nd, I subbed high school algebra, chemistry, and was a study hall monitor. Considering my last complete math and science class was my junior year of high school, I had to read up a bit on what I was supposed to ‘teach’. In the end, I let them do a lot of independent review of the material. They were fun, but really I don’t know what is harder to manage four-year olds or 14-year olds!
The week I subbed from 8:30 to 4:00pm all week, I was also teaching my adult class twice a week, my kids class twice a week, welcomed three new guests after seeing two leave, and also saw Burak leave to Rome.

On the 19th, I welcomed another American I met in the Krakow airport and two Belgian exchange students for the weekend. I gave them a brief tour since I was going to be busy all week and really didn’t hang out with them until Friday night when I made a tapas dinner for them.

On the 21st, I spoke to RC BCN Centre. The language of the club is Catalan, but occasionally they would switch over to Spanish for me. They were really nice and we had a great discussion. Around 11:45pm at the end of the dinner, the discussion turned to the topic of Socrates. I figured it was too late to listen to a philosophical discussion in Catalan regarding Socrates so I excused myself since I still had to give up early to work the next day.

At the end of the week I couldn’t do anything else. I was TIRED. So I went to the beach with my two Belgian exchange students and we just chilled out and got some sun while talking about the fun and silly experiences of living in Belgium. We carried on a conversation in a mix between French and English since we had all lived in Belgium.

On Sunday the 24th, all the guests left and Burak returned from Rome that afternoon. Minus the Americans for Informed Democracy planning meeting I held that evening, I tried to spend all my time with Burak before leaving him for another week the next morning.

Monday the 25th of April, I flew to La Coruna with just my backpack. From La Coruna I took a train to Santiago de Compostela where I got settled into my hostel and wondered around the small town on my own. That night I spoke to the Rotary Club Santiago. Because of a local holiday, there were only 3 members attending. I decided to forgo the formal presentation and just gave them some highlights of my speech continued by a discussion. I will see some of them again at the District conference in Segovia May 20-22.

The next morning, Christanne (my travel buddy) flew in from Seville. The plan was for her to land at 8:25am, catch the 8:30am airport bus, and rendezvous at the Santiago train station for a 9:04am train to a town where we could take a bus to the start of our Camino de Santiago. When I got the text that she had made it on the bus from the airport, I was ecstatic because our crazy plan was going to work. We had to catch this 9:04am train or we would lose the day to travel because the next train was at 4pm.

The Camino de Santiago has a long history. Basically the remains of James or St. James are said to be in the Cathedral of Santiago. The name Santiago comes from ‘Sant’ and ‘Iago.’ ‘Sant’ is for saint and ‘Iago’ is from Hebrew’s Yaacob. (‘Yaacob’ in Hebrew, ‘Jacobus’ in Latin, ‘Jacques’ in French, and ‘James’ in English)
For more history:
Back to our travels on Tuesday: We arrived at the free hostel in Sarria for pilgrims but to be able to stay we had to have walked at least 10-11km. So we had planned to do this already but we decided to start the Camino from Samos which was just 10-11 km away from the hostel. We had to take a taxi there so we wouldn’t waste time waiting for a bus and would be able to still get a spot in the hostel. After a plane, a train, a bus, and a taxi, we finally got to a small town with a monastery, Samos, where we could commence our 120 km Camino. Whew!

As we watched the territory the taxi drove by, we got a little scared to think we were going to have to WALK that distance back. When we arrived, we slammed the taxi doors, said ‘thanks,’ and proceeded to check out the monastery. What we quickly realized was that at 2pm, the monastery and almost everything else in the town was closed until 4:30pm. Then the worry was how to obtain a stamp or a ‘sello’ on our little Camino passport to have proof we had been to Samos while all was closed.
We asked a restaurant lady and she told us to go to the monastery because maybe the hostel would be open. We quickly got excited and walked over there but found the hostel open without anyone supervising it. Then I saw one person working, the gas attendant, and I asked him when the hostel person would return so we could get our stamps. He said the magic words, ‘ I have the stamp.’ I wanted to kiss him. We were so excited we got our stamps and then I took a picture with him. He felt like a king for being of such importance to us and had a grin from side to side. We had our first stamp and even if we couldn’t see the monastery, we had begun our Camino!

I can’t put into words my experience for the next 5 days where Christanne and I covered 120 km (74.4 miles) in 32 hours and 30 minutes of continuous walking. We stayed for free each night in pilgrims’ hostels. We woke up at 5:30am to start at 6am and walk the 18-27 km for the day usually reaching our destination town between 2 and 4pm. We would shower and change into our clean set of clothes at the arrival of the new hostel. We would then shop for dinner for the night and also breakfast and lunch for the next day. We ate dinner at 6pm and were sleeping by 10pm. We met some really amazing and interesting people and also a couple of really weird characters. I felt like I was on my modern-day Canterbury Tales with various pilgrim characters with peculiar stories.

We would often only see towns with stores at our destination towns and wouldn’t see stoplights, street signs, nor anything of that sort during our walks. We often walked into a village and had a cow or two standing in the middle of our Camino. We almost got ran over by cows during our lunch in a small field. We crossed over flowing creeks and I almost fell because I was balancing my weight and the weight of my backpack (10 kilos/22.2 lbs) on one rock while trying to find the best place to put my next step.

In the end, I learned that I could walk 120 km in 5.5 days with a heavy backpack up and down hills, through creeks, and in the hot sun and rain. I had time to be introspective at a point where I have only three months before I return to my home country again and start a new stage in my life. I learned the joys of not checking my email everyday and not being in contact with the rest of the world. I learned how eating should be about fueling your body. I learned I could walk 4 hours without stopping. I confirmed my belief I have a small bladder. I took joy in finding toilet paper in hostels and café bathrooms. I saw the value of not having much because it would weigh you down on your walk and it is the same in life (I have storages in MD/VA/TX).

I saw a lot of analogies for life on my way as well. Once we entered a part of the Camino that crossed by a creek. On the left side, I saw stone steps that would keep us off of the mud and water. On the right side, I saw these twigs in the mud and I thought why where they there if there are stones to cross on the left? Then I followed the stones on the left with my eyes and realized they only led halfway down the watered path. The least likely path, the one with the twigs in the mud, was the right path because after the twigs, there were stones that led you to the other side of the creek. Ultimately, it made me think that sometimes the most ‘obvious’ path might not be the right one and sometimes rocky and unusual routes at the beginning can still lead you to where you want to go.

We arrived in Santiago on Sunday, May 1st and celebrated with fellow pilgrims that night. On Monday morning I flew back to Barcelona. While I waited for the plane in La Coruna I walked in the airport parking lot because I missed the Camino. That night I spoke to a Rotary club in Sabadell, just 40 min from my place. I managed to pull off a decent presentation even though I was ready to go to sleep when they started eating. Well, more about that all later.

May’s events will include:

- Rotary speeches to more clubs in the Barcelona area
- Welcoming my brother and sister from the States to BCN for a visit
- Going to Burak’s high school’s prom ( :) )
- Hosting 5 guests from USA and Belgium
- Speaking at the Rotary District (2210) Conference regarding my scholarship and experiences

Hope all is well, take care of yourself, and keep in touch.

Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar 2004-2005
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

An Afghan killing commanded by tradition

Adultery case shows challenge of modern law coming to tribal lands

May 5, 2005

Gore to receive Internet lifetime achievement award

He really did have something to do with it.....for more

Oldest living 'Oz' munchkin tells all

Check out this link

May 4, 2005

What is your Temperament? I am an Idealist Teacher

Here is a very interesting link. This test is a Temperament Indicator. You'll have to create a login (just takes 3-4 min). On the basis of your answers to certain questions, your temperament will be classified in one of the four categories -

1. Artisans value freedom and spontaneity. They want to be without constraint, at liberty to act on their impulses, play, and create.
2. Guardians value belonging to a group or community. They maintain stability through responsible, conservative, traditional behavior.
3. Idealists value personal growth, authenticity, and integrity. They yearn to develop themselves fully as individuals and to facilitate growth in others.
4. Rationals value competence and intelligence. They strive to learn, know, predict, and control the resources in their environment.

Check out a matrix classification of temperaments of some world-renowned personalities to get a better understanding.
I have been branded as an idealist ;-)

Here are some snippets from my reading -
• Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self. This quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination.
• Idealists are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.
• Idealists are incurable romantics. They believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood.
• Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere.
• Idealists cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.
More general stuff on idealists can be found here.
Now, within also idealists there are four classifications.
1. Healer 2. Counselor 3. Teacher 4. Champion.

To know which one of those do I fall under, I’ll have to pay for a report but this website URL completes the missing link.

My type is the *Teacher* Idealists. (they are also called the ENFJ types - Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging

More of my info:
Your Type is
Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Judging
Strength of the preferences %
56 50 25 22

ENFJ type description by D.Keirsey
ENFJ type description by J. Butt

Qualitative analysis of your type formula

You are:
moderately expressed extrovert

moderately expressed intuitive personality

moderately expressed feeling personality

slightly expressed judging personality

The Idealists called Teachers are abstract in their thought and speech, cooperative in their style of achieving goals, and directive and extraverted in their interpersonal relations. Learning in the young has to be beckoned forth, teased out from its hiding place, or, as suggested by the word "education," it has to be "educed." by an individual with educative capabilities. Such a one is the eNFj, thus rightly called the educative mentor or Teacher for short. The Teacher is especially capable of educing or calling forth those inner potentials each learner possesses. Even as children the Teachers may attract a gathering of other children ready to follow their lead in play or work. And they lead without seeming to do so.

Teachers expect the very best of those around them, and this expectation, usually expressed as enthusiastic encouragement, motivates action in others and the desire to live up to their expectations. Teachers have the charming characteristic of taking for granted that their expectations will be met, their implicit commands obeyed, never doubting that people will want to do what they suggest. And, more often than not, people do, because this type has extraordinary charisma.

The Teachers are found in no more than 2 or 3 percent of the population. They like to have things settled and arranged. They prefer to plan both work and social engagements ahead of time and tend to be absolutely reliable in honoring these commitments. At the same time, Teachers are very much at home in complex situations which require the juggling of much data with little pre-planning. An experienced Teacher group leader can dream up, effortlessly, and almost endlessly, activities for groups to engage in, and stimulating roles for members of the group to play. In some Teachers, inspired by the responsiveness of their students or followers, this can amount to genius which other types find hard to emulate. Such ability to preside without planning reminds us somewhat of an Provider, but the latter acts more as a master of ceremonies than as a leader of groups. Providers are natural hosts and hostesses, making sure that each guest is well looked after at social gatherings, or that the right things are expressed on traditional occasions, such as weddings, funerals, graduations, and the like. In much the same way, Teachers value harmonious human relations about all else, can handle people with charm and concern, and are usually popular wherever they are. But Teachers are not so much social as educational leaders, interested primarily in the personal growth and development of others, and less in attending to their social needs.

Mikhail Gorbachev is an example of a Teacher Idealist.

Life beyond terror.....

I have been traveling a lot, meeting many people, and within one month (Apr 4 to May 2) spoke to 8 Rotary clubs. At one club, I remember the topic of Sept 11th, American Foreign Policy, and the War on Terror being discussed.

The Rotarian mentioned that other countries have had terror and had many years of it. Europe has thousands of years of history and the US is a little baby of 200 plus years. Her point was that in that naivete, we are focusing our energies on what we perceive to be our largest problem when in fact, there are others and it isn't a new concept.

This is just a short thought but I was reminded of it when I was reading the article below when it mentions the approach between two heads of state, Bush and Hu (China). Bush was terror focused and Hu addressed many concerns of the people.

From Fareed Zakaria's article on China:

In November 2004, President George W. Bush and China's President Hu Jintao traveled through Asia. I was in the region a few weeks afterward and was struck by how almost everyone I spoke with rated Hu's visits as far more successful than Bush's. Karim Raslan, a Malaysian writer, explained: "Bush talked obsessively about terror. He sees all of us through that one prism. Yes, we worry about terror, but frankly that's not the sum of our lives. We have many other problems. We're retooling our economies, we're wondering how to deal with the rise of China, we're trying to address health, social and environmental problems. Hu talked about all this; he talked about our agenda, not just his agenda." From Indonesia to Brazil, China is winning new friends.

May 3, 2005

Even more Camino history...

Although there is no reference in apostolic times to the evangelisation of Spain by James, there is evidence in the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries of a tradition that James did preach the Gospel there.
Confirmation of the tradition was seen in the miraculous discovery of his tomb early in the 9th century. A hermit named Pelayo claimed to have received an angelic revelation that St James was buried on the hill where the city of Compostella now stands and to have seen a bright star shining over it.

He informed the local bishop, Theodomir of Iria Flavia (now Padron), who went to the spot indicated by the star and discovered an ancient tomb and declared that it was that of the Apostle.

The discovery was reported to the Pope (Leo III), who proclaimed it to the whole Christian world. A church was built over the tomb by King Alfonso II of Asturias (which then included Leon and Galicia), and pilgrims began to flock to the shrine. Later a grander one, which became a cathedral, replaced the original modest church when the episcopal see was moved from Fria Flavia to Compostella.

To explain the presence of the saint's tomb in Galicia a legend grew up that after his return to Palestine from his evangelising mission in Spain and his execution by Herod (Acts 12,2).

His disciples recovered his body, took it down to the coast, from which, with the saint's body, they were miraculously transported in an unmanned boat to the Galician coast at what is now Padron.

Thereafter the numbers of pilgrims making their way from all over Christendom to St James's shrine at Compostella continued to increase. In course of time numbers of religious houses providing accommodation for pilgrims were built along the route, roads were improved and bridges were built to ease the pilgrims' journey.

As a result there came into being a recognised pilgrim road along northern Spain from the Pyrenees to Compostella, known as the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), or Camino Francs (French Road) since it was travelled by pilgrims coming from or through France. Within France too there were particularly favoured routes along which pilgrims travelled from different parts of France and other countries in Europe to join the French Road in Spain.

The 'Pilgrim's Guide' was written in the 12th century, probably around 1140-50. It is the earliest of the many descriptions that have come down to us of the pilgrimage to the shrine of St James. Unlike other accounts, however, it is not primarily a description of one particular pilgrim's journey-though it is clearly based on personal experience and is strongly imbued with the author's feelings and prejudices-but is designed to help prospective pilgrims with advice and guidance for their journey.

The 'Guide' is contained in a 12th century Latin manuscript known as the Codex Calixtinus, after an apocryphal letter attributed to Pope Calixtus or Callistus II (d.1124) which serves as a kind of preface, or more familiarly as the 'Book of St James' (Liber Sancti Jacobi).

This was a compilation evidently designed to promote the pilgrimage to Compostella, no doubt under the influence of Diego Glimmers bishop of Compostella from 1100, Archbishop from 1120), an energetic and ambitious prelate who actively promoted the development of the pilgrimage, the building of the new cathedral which had been begun by his predecessor Diego Peels, and the enhancement of Compostella's (and his own) status.

There are four versions of the Codex Calixtinus, the finest of which is preserved in the archives of Santiago Cathedral. It consists of five books, of different origins and dates.

The first and longest of the books is an anthology of hymns, sermons and liturgical writings in honour of St James.

The second is a collection of miracles attributed to the saint, most of them fairly recent (i.e. dating from the early years of the 12th century).

The third is an account of the evangelisation of Spain by St James, his martyrdom and the transfer of his remains from Jerusalem to Compostella.

The fourth is devoted to the History of Charlemagne and Roland, the story (attributed to Charlemagne's warlike Archbishop Turpin) of Charlemagne's legendary expeditions into Spain, linking the epic of the Emperor and his paladins with the story of St James and the pilgrimage to Compostella; and the fifth consists of the 'Pilgrim's Guide'.

In the manuscript preserved in Santiago the history of Charlemagne and Roland was detached and bound separately in the 18th century, so that in this text the 'Guide' is described as the fourth book.

Although generally dated to around 1140-50, the 'Pilgrim's Guide' appears to be a compilation including work by more than one hand, written at different dates. Its author or compiler is not positively known, but the work is commonly attributed to one Aimery (Aymericus) Picaud, a cleric from Parthenay-Ae-Vieux in Poitou, who may have travelled to Compostella in the retinue of a noble lady named Gerberga or Gebirga.

Certainly the author seems to have been a Frenchman, writing his guide in Latin-primarily for the benefit of French pilgrims; and the text of the Guide reflects the strong local patriotism of a native of Poitou and his distaste for the manners and customs of practically all the other peoples encountered on the road to Compostella. He may or may not have been the same person as one Aymericus who was a papal chancellor in the mid 12th century. To give greater authority to the 'Guide' certain chapters are specifically attributed to Pope Callistus, Aimery or Aimery the Chancellor.

The Guide is divided into eleven chapters, the longest of which are the seventh, eighth and ninth, devoted respectively to the characteristics of the countries and the peoples on the road to Compostella, the shrines to be visited on the way (particularly in France, with a long excursus on the life and passion of St Eutrope of Saintes) and a description of the town and cathedral of Compostella. The exact route is outlined in two shorter chapters, the second and the third.

The second chapter of the Guide divides the journey to Santiago from the French frontier into thirteen stages. The rationale of this subdivision is not clear. It appears to imply that each stage represents a day's journey.

But it seems unlikely that even a well mounted group of pilgrims-with which the author of the Guide must be presumed to have travelled, though only two of the stages are specifically described as being done on horseback-could complete a journey of between 440 and 490 miles, with stages of up to 60 miles, in only thirteen days.

A modern pilgrim took twenty-three riding days for the journey, with a maximum day's journey of 30 miles and an average speed over the whole distance of just under 3/2 miles an hour. Is it possible that the author of the Guide mentions only staging-points which he is anxious to recommend because at these places there were religious houses or hospices run by a religious order with which he had affiliations (perhaps the Clunic order which played a major part in organising the pilgrim route and is particularly mentioned in the Guide.

More Camino History.....

The guide is a translation from Spanish of the work of Elias Valifla Sampedro (1929-1989), who was parish priest of 0 Cebreiro and Doctor of Canon Law of the University of Salamanca, a Scholar and an expert on Compostelan studies. The priest devoted his life to the study of the pilgrimage to Compostela and this is reflected in his book.
This new Pilgrim's Guide incorporates the results of thirty years of research and of countless personal journeys along the Camino de Santiago. The maps, drawn to scale, are a clear expression of the current situation of the Camino. The format of the Guide and the organisation of its contents are the results of the desire to meet several objectives. The material is divided into four parts: a preliminary section and three others: the guide to the route, with maps, directions for the walker and a succinct commentary; historical and cultural notes on places of particular interest; and a final section on accommodation, associations, etc.

This guide will help the pilgrim to make his journey safely and in the true spirit of the pilgrimage. The size and ease of handling of this volume are also considered to be improvements over the author's earlier guides, and incorporate the suggestions made by pilgrims since 1985.

The discovery of the tomb of the apostle St James was one of the most important events of the Middle Ages. The great pilgrimages to Compostela brought together, and had a vital influence on, a number of different aspects of society: art, religion, and economic and cultural life. The influence of the pilgrimage was not confined to a specific period; it went beyond the boundaries of the Middle Ages, extending its vitality into succeeding centuries.

The pilgrimage to Compostela is the great legacy of medieval Christianity, left to us by a Europe composed of diverse populations, united by the common principles of faith and devotion. The phenomenon of the pilgrimage to "Finis Terrae", "the World's End", and to the tomb of the apostle St James, grew spontaneously from the grass roots; from the common folk who, disregarding social distinction or national borders, did much to further unity and fraternity among peoples.

Compostela was transformed to become, together with Rome and Jerusalem, one of the three great centres of pilgrimage of the Christian world. Rome itself witnessed with some misgivings of the height reached by the see of Compostela as its ascendancy grew, due to the increase in pilgrimages. The ambassador of the Moorish sultan Ah ben Yusuf wrote "The multitude of those going -to Santiago- and returning is so great that there is scarcely any room on the westward road..." Who Went on Pilgrimage? Gotescalco, bishop of Le Pay, is one of the earliest pilgrims of whom we have any record. He went to Compostela in the year 950, at the head of a vast retinue. Cesareo, abbot of Montserrat, made the pilgrimage in 959. Tn 1065 a large group of pilgrims from Lieige reached Compostela. The Count of Guines and the bishop of Lille were pilgrims to Compostela in 1084.

In the 11th century the number of pilgrims increased very markedly, drawn without distinction from all classes of European society. In 1072 Alfonso VI abolished the toll payable to the castle of Auctares, situated near the point where the Camino entered Galicia, and made over the money in favour of the pilgrims who went to Compostela, from Spain, France, Italy and Germany". The 12th century marked the height of the pilgrimages. Pope Calixtus II was himself a great supporter. The French priest from Poitou, Aymeric Picaud, has left us the valuable account of his pilgrimage to Compostela in the form of a collection of documents relating to St James, which he, for the glory of the apostle, attributed to Pope Calixtus II. It is for this reason that the collection is known as the "Codex Calixtinus". Among the vast number of pilgrims we frequently find distinguished travellers: bishops, kings, magnates, the rich and the saints. St Francis of Assisi himself made his pilgrimage.

Among the pilgrims were those who began their journeys out of real devotion, others who went as the delegates of cities, towns or individuals, and neither was there any lack of those who took the Way of St James in the fulfilment of a judicial punishment. How They Made the Journey Pilgrims generally travelled in-groups for mutual protection. Gathering at the departure point -ArIes, Le Pay, Vezelay, Paris, etc- they made their farewell to the town with a solemn act of devotion, receiving, blessed, the attributes or tokens of pilgrimage: broad hats to protect them from the sun, the cloak to counter cold and rain, the satchel for food, the gourd for water and the staff for defence and support over rough ground. The scallop shell, which the pilgrims wore soon, became the symbol of the Jacobean pilgrimage. Holy Years The privilege of the Compostelan Holy Year dates from the papacy of Calixtus II, the great devotee of St James. Holy Years occur when the feast day of the apostle -25 July- falls on a Sunday.

The Compostela Those who claimed to be true pilgrims, and could prove that they were not rascals or vagabonds, were permitted to stay at the great pilgrim Hospital de Los Reyes Catolicos (the hospital of the Catholic Monarchs, built by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1496) This tradition still exists. If you want to re-enact it, you should carry the "pilgrim passport" or any other document showing the signatures or stamps of parishes, municipalities or monasteries to prove the distance you have covered. When you arrive in Santiago, go to the office of the Secretary of the Cathedral. When he has verified your pilgrim passport, he will give you your 'Compostela", or certificate of pilgrimage, and any advice or help you may need. The Routes to Compostela True pilgrims have always followed the routes leading to two points of entry via the Roman roads through the western Pyrexes: the route of the Port de CIE (Ibaneta), which gave access to the major route from Bordeaux to Astorga, or the Somport route, which linked Bordeaux and Dax with Jaca and Zaragoza.

In the early years of the pilgrimage, the Camino underwent various modifications. The retreat of the Arab invaders and the formation of several new kingdoms contributed to this. Sancho the Great in Navarre (995-1035), Alfonso VI in Castile and Leon (1065-I lt)9) and Sancho Ramirez in Navarre and Aragon (1076-1094) helped to determine for once and for all the pilgrims' route to Compostela. Aymeric Picaud made his pilgrimage along the -by then- well-defined route early in the 12th century, leaving us his guidebook to the most interesting stages on the historic road. a) The Routes through France The cities of Arles, El Pea, Vezelay and Paris or Orleans were the points of departure for the Jacobean routes through France. Pilgrims who followed the route from Arles via Toulouse and Oloron crossed the Pyrenees by way of the Somport Pass. The other three routes joined at a point close to Ostabat on the edge of the French Pyrenees, and ascended to the Cize Pass.

The Routes through Spain Aymeric Picaud described the two main access routes to Spain, via the passes of Somport and Cize. The book with maps. Shows the different itineraries which pilgrims have taken for more than a thousand years, to venerate the Apostle. The most famous of all these routes is that followed and described by Picaud, the cleric from Parthenay-le-Vieux, who after his pilgrimage wrote the exceptionally interesting five-volume work completed in about 1139, and which received the name of Codex Calixtinus". The fifth book, the Liber Sancti Jacobi" or "Book of St James", It is one with most relevance to us. It outlines the stages on the Camino with a valuable topographical summary, mentions pilgrim hospitals and places of refuge and assistance, describes the quality of the food and water encountered, and remarks sometimes less than charitably- on the characteristics of the people through whose lands the author passed.