Getting canned & walking away

a photo I took six years back while walking the Camino

Here’s an update to let all of you know what’s been going on here, but because I’ve been gone so long…many of you will only read this after the fact. Way after the fact, if my readership numbers don’t lie.

What have I been doing, you ask? Well, that’s a funny question. Or answer, to be more specific.

I’ve been walking away. Saying no. Turning down work.

Because I’ve got too much to do?

Yes and no.

I started grad school since we last spoke. My kid turned three. Yes, three.

And oh…I lost another job.

You heard that right. I had a job for six months, and when I should’ve been transitioning from my probationary period to my contract, I found out how one gets canned in Germany. Sacked, fired, asked to leave…we’ve got plenty of ways to describe such a thing in English.

It was enlightening, I assure you.

Was I at fault? Yes, definitely. Well, sort of.

Were they at fault? When it happened I thought so. However, with distance I see their perspective better. Much clearer.

I wasn’t the right sort of employee for them, which was hell on my ego. But I could deal with it. Eventually.

Okay, maybe not. It’s been a rough ride, to say the least. So, what’d I do? My wife asked me that, and I answered, ‘Nothing. I’m not going to do anything.‘ Literally. I was so angry about how the job ended, that the thought of working for someone else again just made me angrier.

It was then I decided to walk. I’d been on the Camino de Santiago in Spain a few times for a week or two the first time and then only a few days with my mother the second. I’d always heard you should do your pilgrimage from home.

Well, home is Munich which means I got a new pack and started walking towards Santiago. For a month. With stops and starts, because after the first few weeks, I needed to be home for my daughter’s birthday.

Why am I telling you all of this anyway?

My personal blog has always been a tool for me. When my mother was still alive, I liked it that she could read about my experiences living here in this city that she had loved living in, and it still tickles me that she’d leave personal notes in the comments that a more technologically adept person would put in a text message or what have you.

In the coming months, I’ve resolved to post here more regularly and try to build my readership again, like what I had when I was blogging about tea. If you like what you’re reading, please comment here on the blog.

If you want me to write about something in particular, let me know. I’m happy to oblige, within reason.

Please help me grow this thing by interacting with me. I assure you it’ll be quite a ride. It always is, isn’t it?

third day on the Camino & a return to where I started last year…back to the future, because I’ll definitely be here again

This bridge means a lot to me, and it’ll take some explaining for it to make sense. 

Arrived here in Logroño last year to begin my journey. Meeting all the pilgrims with their injuries that day, I felt like such an imposter calling myself a pilgrim already. Little did I know – everyone walks his own Camino. Where you start is immaterial. Just start. 

Then I looked back over this bridge from the other side and could only imagine what the path from Pamplona to here was like. Now that I’ve gone back and done that exact stretch, I found myself looking on this bridge with a sense of accomplishment. 

The day before, I’d walked through Villamayor de Monjardín, which is nearly as pretty a village as this flower. Needed to keep moving, but I could’ve enjoyed a siesta there. Next time. 

As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve either followed my travels here, or know anything about the Camino de Santiago, these markers are found all along The Way. Even in my hikes back in the Bavarian Alps, you sometimes see these signs for Der Jakobsweg, which always make me long to get back on the Camino

The morning ‘magic hour‘ is beautiful enough to make you want to leap out of your bunk in the albergue. There’s no such thing as sleeping in when you’re a pilgrim, but it’s moments like this that make early mornings so worthwhile. 

Think this was from my first day, when I was coming out of Pamplona, but I can’t remember. What I do remember is the sweet, delicious smell of these guys. I’m sure those of you who know flowers can tell me what these are. Anyone?

Definitely from day one, coming down off the Alto del Perdón – no idea the significance of this wooden statue in Obanos, but I loved the juxtaposition of east and west. 

In case you needed any encouragement: Don’t  stop walking!

And not too much looking back, either. This is from the bridge in Puenta la Reina glancing from whence I came. Not much time for reflection about the road behind me while focused on the path ahead, but I liked this shot. It’s been well received elsewhere. Hope you like!

heed that guy’s warning, would you?


getting geared up
I’ll admit it – I’m a little nervous about my feet. 

Blogs and online forums and even a few old-fashioned books I’ve been poring over have adequately warned me how important foot maintenance is when it comes to the kind of long-distance walking I’ll soon be doing. For those of you not hanging on my every word over here, I’ll catch you up quickly:

I’m soon leaving for Spain, where I’m walking a bit of the Camino de Santiago. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not walking the whole thing. I’m getting a taste for this pilgrimage and then, in all likelihood, I’ll be back at some future date for more of the same. 

The photo above is what I’ve already amassed in hopes of decent care of my hind paws. Again and again I hear and read about how the time you spend while on the Camino: you’re either walking or taking care of your feet. I’m sure I’ll  appreciate the scenery and the comeraderie of the other pilgrims, but right now I can only think of one thing: I’ve got this picture in my head of me coming home missing toenails and reminiscing fondly of a time back when I could still fully feel my extremities. 
You likely assume I’m exaggerating, and I’ve been accused of that sort of thing before. Comes with the territory, I suppose. Come back and talk to me in a few weeks, though, and we’ll see. I’ll be the old-timer hobbling along wagging his finger ominously. ‘Proper foot care, m’boy. It’s all about taking care of those five-toed wonders at the end of your legs.’ 

Somebody heed that guy’s warning, would you?

Walking down the road…or getting ready to

Camino symbol

When I first started hiking here in the German Alps, I kept seeing that symbol above. ‘What is that?‘ I’d ask.

Oh, it’s the Jakobsweg.

Huh? What’s the Jakobsweg?

You know, it’s a pilgrimage. One of the oldest ones in Europe, I think. Many people walk it.

Now that I know a bit more about it, I can tell you: some English names for it are The CaminoThe Road to Santiago, The Way of St James or St James’s Way depending on your preference.

The long and short of it is that I’ve said for years, ‘I want to go do that someday.‘ There was a German bestseller about walking the route (the name of the book I won’t bother mentioning), and although the Jakobsweg was already very popular hereabouts, it suddenly became even more so.

Then I saw the Emilio Estevez movie ‘The Way‘ (starring his father Martin Sheen), and not long after that I was asked if I wanted to come along and do some Walking Down the Road. Yes, I did.

I still do.

There’s a lot that goes into planning such a thing, and the more I read about it, the more out of my depths it seems I am. However, there seem to be plenty of folk who do this and they seem to do it and even make it back somehow.

To be clear up front: I’m not even planning on walking the whole thing. My intention is to get a taste for it, and from what I understand: once I do, I’ll definitely want to go again.

I’ve been alternating between obsessing about which shoes I’ll wear and imagining how delicious the Tapas in Logroño are. Already, I’ve decided I’ll be documenting as much of it here as I can.

Not just the actual walking of The Camino, but I intend to blather on about the preparation and I suspect I might find myself contemplating what it meant to me long after I get back home.

Like I said, I’ve still got to decide on footwear. Here’s a photo of me taking one pair out for a test drive. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing plenty more of this sort of thing in the foreseeable future. Something tells me you can hardly wait.

Camino prep stuff




Shedding the Kummerspeck



Why do I find myself going back again and again to photos of my trip to Seville?

It’s not only that it’s such a beautiful place – I’ve seen my share of those. There’s something about Spain in general and Seville in particular.

So this is a bending, sunlit corridor. At this particular moment, it seemed like the way to approach the blog this evening.

Plenty going on in the world of lahikmajoe presently. For one thing, I’ve got family visiting. That’s often good for a bit of fodder for the old Miscellaneous Blog. After that, or during their visit, the World Cup kicks off.

I could tell you I think Argentina has an easy draw and they’ll waltz through their group, but everyone knows that. Not very optimistic about the chances of the United States team, but every four years the fans get their hopes up. I’d say Germany was an early favourite a year or two ago, but they seem mismanaged of late. We’ll see if they can turn that around. I’ll certainly be cheering them on. I’m always for my adopted homeland. It’s a thing with me.

Otherwise, the weather has turned warm, or warmer, and the mostly beautiful of Munich have begun their annual shedding of Kummerspeck (‘grief bacon’) and clothing of nearly all sorts. I suppose I should talk about those last things at another time – hopefully soon.



looking down on the Mediterranean

up in Mijas

If you’ve been here a while, you know I like climbing. This blog didn’t exist last year during hiking season but if it had, there would’ve been many posts of mountains I’d climbed. Something to look forward to if you like that sort of thing.

When I was in Nice at New Year’s, I wrote about this fascination of mine in going up up up. Some insist on dividing others into either one sort of person or another? You’re either a cat person or a dog person. Either you prefer eating sweets or you like meat dishes? I’ve always thought this was ridiculous. Although I’ve had dogs most of my life, I really enjoy cats. And the food question? If you tried to make be decide which one I liked more (savoury main course or sugary dessert), my immediate response would be: I want both.

I’ve heard the same sort of question about either mountains or the beach. My suspicion is that this is some sort of personality test nonsense. Do you like mountains? Yes, very much. Do you like the beach? Well, I like walking on the beach. I’m not one for laying around on the sand, but I like watching the waves.

My answer is that I want both. I want to be high up in the mountains but be able to look out at the ocean. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

would you let this guy pull you around?

Arrived in Mijas (outside of Málaga) up in the hills above Fuengirola, and the first thing I saw was an Ass-taxi. That search term is going to bring some disappointed viewers. Here’s the Ass-taxi:

the story is that sometime back in the early 1960s, some workers were on their way home riding their donkeys. Some (probably inebriated) tourists insisted on taking photos of themselves on the donkeys. The amount in tips the tourists gave was more than the donkey-riding locals had been making working the land, so a new career was born. Ass-taxi entrepreneur.

view of the Mediterranean from Mijas

The village itself was gorgeous. Tonnes of tourists, but what do you expect when a place is so beautiful? Yes, there was a great view of the Mediterranean and it felt somehow cooler up here than it was back on the coast (I don’t think it actually was). If you walked as far away from the main square as you could, you could see a bit of what the place might’ve been like before tourism (aside from the no parking signs and satellite dishes). Here’s a nice shot I got of that part of the village:

view of Andalusian white village

It’s not written with a particularly great command of English, but if you want to know more about this little village of Mijas, here’s the Wikipedia article about it. The history of the resistance of the local villagers when the Spanish conquerors had already taken Málaga and surrounding regions was quite intriguing. As I often say, I reserve the right to come back and explore this topic in a future blogpost. It certainly wouldn’t be difficult to hold my attention.

atop las Setas (the mushrooms)


First you go down a level, then you take the lift up to the second level above the ground floor. As you come out to the most indescribable view, you realise you’re standing atop giant mushrooms. It’s even better than it sounds.

There’s the beautiful city of Sevilla spread out below, and did I mention the mushrooms? I did, didn’t I?


these genes would make an ugly sister

these genes would make an ugly sister

Although I don’t have a sister, I found out some weird news this week. Turns out I can legally artificially inseminate my sister, but it’s against the law for me to actually have intercourse with her. That’s a relief, right?

Wait, what? It’s true. Them’s the rules.

Unless you’re in Germany or pay attention to German media, you likely haven’t heard about this. Here check out my colleague Michael Owen‘s take on the whole thing in Incest laws in Germany may be a bit outdated.

Here’s the section of his article that I found most intriguing:

‘Many developed countries have no laws banning incest, though often they are not allowed to marry. These include France, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Brazil to name a few. The countries which do have strict laws forbidding incestous relationships tend to be former countries of the British Commonwealth like Canada and Australia, and include the USA. Germany‘s law on incest is quite peculiar. If a woman would like to be artificially inseminated by the sperm of a lineal relative, i.e. by a brother or her father, this is allowed. But if she becomes pregnant through coitus (sexual intercourse), this is outlawed. The law is actually a law against sex between two consenting adults. Incest is not banned for the safety of the possible progeny, but is a kind of legislation on what happens within the bedroom.’

Perplexing, isn’t it? Now, let me be really candid here. When I first heard about this, I thought, ‘Of course incest is illegal. As well it should be. Right?

Yet I read about this in so many papers, and the general consensus was that laws against incest were old-fashioned. Not everyone, mind you. Just many more than I expected. And it made me really ponder the whole issue. Why was I not only repulsed by the very thought?

Was it purely an issue of religious beliefs that then seeped into my sense of right and wrong? Was it a matter of ethics?

I immediately found myself insisting that there’d be birth defects in not only the next generation but in the ones to come. If you’re truly libertarian in your beliefs, then maybe you can insist that the government has no right to interfere with the actions of two consenting adults. And it’s not like I relish the idea of interfering with people’s private lives.

However, I must admit that I still don’t like it. I think there are some situations where the State must set rules to protect people from themselves. My gut reaction is that this is exactly that sort of matter.

So all of this is academic…theoretical. You know, the having no sister thing. But if I did, I hope I would know better than to procreate with her.

No matter what the law was.