Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 185
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Wednesday & Thursday, October 6 & 7 2010
(diary, Via de la Plata)
The green mangos which fell off the trees last week during a short storm have turned
soft and yellow and now stand out against the grass like billiard balls strewn all
over a snooker table. The Mango geese have also spotted them and as I do my early
morning walk around the farm I find a whole flock of them who
hastily fly up when they see me.
Wednesday morning I wake up to considerable activity. Andrew (assisted by several
volunteers) is putting a floating roof with extra insulation in the large shed next to
my cabin where Margaret and Brian live. I stroll over and give them a hand and after work we
have a few beers together. Late afternoon a heavy downpour of rain for half an hour
makes everything outside look fresh and clean again.
Since returning from Europe I feel a deep sense of well being, contentment, of a job
well done. Why on earth is that ? Although the body may decline when we get
older, we still have opportunities to grow emotionally and mentally, and I feel I have
just done that again. I had a good time reconnecting with old friends and associates in
Holland, and after that a great time in the Black Forest, where I, through my long walks,
strongly connected emotionally with the earth and the environment.
But it is not just the immediate past which gives me contentment but also my plans for
the future : my walk in Spain in 2012, something to really look forward to. It will be
an opportunity for further growth and a period of movement, change, something my
restless soul needs like a plant needs water.
But why, you might ask, am I so keen to walk a pilgrims route ? I am an
outspoken atheist and consider all religions a self inflicted curse which is subjecting
humanity to so much hatred, bloodshed and death.
Like all other geology students from Leiden University at the time (1950s and 60s) I
developed a strong emotional connection with Spain and its people during the five
summers I did my field work there. I lived amongst the people there in small hamlets on
But Spain has changed of course since it opened its frontiers. It is now
flooded with tourists and semi-permanent residents from North European countries who
spend their winters there. And when I visited there in 2007 (staying for 4 weeks in the
lovely village of Mijas on the slopes behind the Costa del Sol) I sadly realised I had
lost that connection.
The purpose of my walk therefore is to try to re-connect to the land and if
possible to the people. You can not do this by sitting on the beach in places
flooded with tourists and foreigners, but I believe it may be possible on a long walk through the
country. The more I think about it, especially seen from this perspective, I start to believe
that the Via de la Plata is the
much better route for me.
In 2005 over 190,000 pilgrims walked the Camino
Francés, undoubtedly most of them foreigners. In that same year only 9,000
pilgrims walked the Via de la Plata route. This means that you have far less contact
with (foreign) fellow travelers and a much better chance to connect with local communities on the Plata route. And that of course, is
exactly what I am after. Following the Via de la Plata I will also travel through a
region of Spain I have never been before, an extra bonus.
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Friday, October 8 2010
Well, that is enough about my pilgrims walk through Spain in 2012 for a while.
My more immediate plan for the
future is for another 7 weeks here in Darwin. Then (on November 27, rather than driving
my usual direct rout to the Sunshine Coast) I will make a detour via Adelaide to spend a week with my Bridge friends there.
involves a 3,000km drive heading straight South through the center of Australia. I have gone South as far as
Alice Springs in 2002 (when my son Jeroen lived there for a few years), but never have driven NS right
On December 8 I will then complete my journey with another
2,200km drive from Adelaide (via the spas in Moree of course) to ThreePonds at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (100km North of
Brisbane), to stay with my daughter Babette and Doug over the summer holiday season.
The weather has been great here. Warm temperatures (36°C) but (quite unusual for
the humid "build up" period this time of the year) lovely half hour long rain downpours
on each of the past 3 days. This keeps the country fresh and cool. The Mango farm is
now teaming with birds : hundreds of Mango geese, white galas, bright green lorikeets
with red collars and yellow wings, a few lapwings and other birds, even the odd Heron.
When I do my walk in the morning I am surrounded by a wall of bird whistles and
lorikeets swirling excitedly all around me. It is quite spectacular.
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Saturday & Sunday, October 9 & 10 2010
The first reactions from my two children on my proposed Spanish pilgrims walk have
My son Jeroen, a very caring person, worries about the weight of the
backpack I will carry along. Don't worry Jeroen, I will carry no more than 10kg that's
for sure. Before starting to walk I will post most of my luggage ahead to my final
destination Santiago so that I can get by with the absolute minimum.
I have in fact
already started looking for suitable backpacks and quite like the Australian made
Black Wolf model called "Tempo" either in 40 or 50 litres size. It has a very light wire
frame and mash sheet, keeping the pack away from the back so that cooling air can flow
on my back. The larger rucksacks with frames are just too heavy for me to use.
I will also purchase one of these tiny light weight laptops with 10 inch screen, so
that I can process, write and upload my Blog texts and photographs while on the road.
My daughter Babette feels like walking along with me for a week or so if she can
possibly do it with her work commitments. Who knows, perhaps both my children will
contemplate doing that.
I have also stirred up my students year club Pimpernel for a summer reunion day in 2012.
reunion at the Weerribben was
a great success.
For 2012 I have proposed a trip by car along half a dozen of
the 54 hunnebedden located in
the Dutch province of Drenthe (each of us to draw a sketch or write an impression of
each one of them), with dinner and overnight stay at Hotel
Koningsberg in the historic village of Anloo.
These 5000 year old (?) graves of the
"trechterbekers volk" (funnel beakers people, named after the shape of their
crockery) have always fascinated me.
When I was based in Assen for my National service (in 1964-54 see story), after a party with some of our neighbours we often would drive off in the middle of
the night to one of these graves, and talk, sing, eat and drink on top of these
mysterious stone relics.
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Monday - Fridayday, October 11 - 15 2010
Most unusual weather this week with some rain almost every day, so that it is lovely
fresh and cool every day. I have been busy with bridge, playing Monday and Tuesday night and
two sessions on Thursday.
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On Wednesday I worked on the photos I made during the
reunion of old Martinshof personnel on 18 August
in Apeldoorn. Together with the
photos the present Manager Yvonne Hafkamp made I have put a nice series online.
Early on Friday morning Brian from the Mango farm drove me to the Darwin Public
Hospital for my operation.
I must say I was most impressed by the pleasant and efficient service I received
there. I was the main item on the agenda for the Plastic Surgeon that day, so the first to be
dealt with in the morning.
Unfortunately there was a shortage of anesthetists on the
day, so instead of a general anesthetic (as was planned) I was treated under local anesthetics only during
the operation. But they did put me out for the first 5 minutes or so, so that I did not
feel the needle for the local going in, as that apparently is quite painful.
I had BCCs
removed from my right eyelid (right on the tear canal), underneath my left eye, one on
my left upper arm, and a bigger one inside my left nostril which required a skin graft
(taken from behind my left ear). So all rather fiddly little jobs which took a full 2
hours to complete.
Following the operation stitch by stitch so to speak allowed me to
make the odd joke, like remarking that the colloquial saying of "someone getting up your nose" would from now on have a
completely different meaning for me. The surgeon chuckled on hearing that
When I was finally carried to the Recovery Room I was hungry like hell, so absolute
bliss when the nurse gave me a sandwich and a cup of coffee, the most enjoyable
Sandwich I have ever consumed!!
All up I was out by 1PM when Sybil picked me up
and drove me back home. For the rest of the day and night I stayed in bed, slept and
watched a bit of TV. Everything seems to be healing OK. Check up next Tuesday morning.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner