Friday, July 11, 2008

the end

it's been eight days since i finished the pilgrimage and i'm finally starting to acclimatize to this new old life that i have.

my muscles haven't gotten used to not walking quite as easily as i have. i've woken up every morning to leg muscles that are inflexible knotted balls of meat. everyday has started with a painful process of getting them stretched out. another adjustment has been my appetite. it is now nearly non-existant compared to my extreme hunger of a week and a half ago. i don't crave anything anymore and when i do eat, i don't seem to be able to eat as much as i used to. i think my stomach has strunk.
i have noticed changes in myself but from time to time i have caught myself attempting to fall back into old routines. habit must rival gravity as one of the most constant, subtle and powerful forces in the universe. i intend to follow through on those changes. i guess i haven't yet finished what i started. maybe when i have finished it will be time to do the pilgrimage again; gyaku-uchi (counterclockwise).
that is all. it's time for you to find 40 days to find yourself. everything you are and need is right in front of your eyes, but it takes a little time away from 'things' to realize it. ;)
cheers, colin

pictures, pictures, pictures

i have so many pictures from my trip on the computer now, about 480. i don't think i'll be able to share them all through this blog, but i hope to continue to developing my own website about the shikoku pilgrimage and my experience doing it.

i spent a lot of time during the trip wishing that i could post higher quality photos on the blog. well, here are a few from the temples that i visited. a temple 85's hondo (main hall), a temple 70's pagoda, and a temple gate's nio-mon (guardian diety).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

snake count

the final snake count was 29!

i only managed to get four pictures of snakes during the trip and none of them were particularly spectacular. i was a bit of a sissy when it came to getting up and close for a photo.

here is one that i've taken off my camera.

this was an exciting encounter. it was on a narrow concrete path which had deep gutters on both sides. there seemed to be no quick escape route for the snake and no way around for me. it was a stand off, so i decided to take a picture. at this point the snake either didn't know i was there or was hoping that i had not yet seen it. after a few minutes i decided to poke it with my stick. it didn't move. it only gave up the pretense of hiding and turned to face me. another more tense stand off insued. i gave up and decided to find another way around. yes, i'm a sissy.

final contest results

hey, i'm back. it's been a crazy week, but i'll get into that in another post.

i'd like to announce the winner of the 'guess colin's weightloss' consolation prize.
as i said before, there were many guesses at my first two and a half weeks at weightloss and a lot of them were much to ambitious to be in contention for the prize. so, i gave those ambitious guesses a second chance with my 'final weightloss contest'.

my weight as recorded at dogo onsen was 104.7kg, a loss of 8.3kg from my previous weight.
the day after i returned from shikoku, i was able to record my weight at another onsen.
my recorded weight at the end of the trip was... 103.9kg. a total loss of 9.1kg from my previous weight.

i know. it was not what i was expecting either. i think my appetite did finally catch up to me, or maybe i had already finished losing all of the easy weight, or perhaps i dramatically put on 3 to 4kg of pure muscle in the last two weeks. :)

regardless, i feel great and as long as i don't fall into old habits the kilograms will continue to drop over the next few weeks.

so the winner of the contest this time around is auntie crystal from manitoba, canada! her guess was the best from those who haven't already received a prize or some sort of souvenir in the mail.

thanks again for all of the entries. the contest was a fun distraction during the trip.

i'm still not done. i'll put up a few more posts in the next couple of days.

Friday, July 4, 2008

day 43, 8:20pm, done

i'm done!
the day went by so quickly. it was a lot to take in.

i made it to temple 1 at about 10:30am. it was pretty quiet (i think the bus tours start saturday). i went through my usual temple routine, got my stampbook stamped, got a few extra as souvenirs and that was it. there was no parade, no one to pat me on the back to say good job. i was just finished. it was a strange feeling. i didn't cry or anything like that. i spent a good 30min just sitting. it took a long time for reality to sink in.

at temple 1 i did get to speak to one of the monks there. he was very friendly and used to talking to and helping all of the foreign henro who visited the temple. he didn't provide the praise i may have been looking for. i imagine he's met thousands of people who have finished the pilgrimage. we talked about the weather and food.

i also saw a few henro at the temple who were just setting out. a few looked like they knew what they were getting into, others looked woefully underprepared. i would have liked to have given them some advice but even if i was fluent in japanese i still don't think i could give them any information that would be useful for them. experience is a much better teacher. they'll figure things out pretty quickly.

and then i left. i got on a train. i bought some souvenirs. i got on a bus. i got on another train and now i'm home. i don't feel like i've left the trail yet. my mind is still moving slowly, taking in one thing at a time, contemplating, as if i were still walking endlessly along a road somewhere.

i'm not quite ready to finish this blog yet. i'll need a few more posts to tie everything up. but i'd like to thank everyone who followed along and e-mailed me during my trip. it meant a lot to me to have that kind of support.

i'm going to call it a night,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

day 42, 8:43pm, one more day

thank you everybody for the e-mails. lots of concern and congratulations for me.
well, i'm still feeling a little blah now and then but i'm having no problem holding my food down. i dreamed all day about going to a big salad bar. i could really use a salad. :)
and i haven't finished yet! i'll be closing the loop tomorrow; returning to temple 1.

i don't really know how i feel. today i took a route down that put me back on the trail i walked on my first day. it felt different even though i could remember the sites and the route.

the most interesting part was meeting henro who were going the other way, who had just started.
i wanted to stop and talk to them, to give them a bit of wisdom, but most of them were focused on reaching their next temple, on keeping up to their schedule.
i was like that the first day.

well, i didn't find a nice hut to stay, so i went for a hotel. it's my second last day so i'll treat myself.

i feel like i'd like to do the pilgrimage again, from tomorrow. it was difficult but there is an alure to a life that has such a simple purpose. eat, sleep, walk. i never once woke up in the morning without a sense of purpose. fatigue yes, despair sometimes, but there was always a simple solution, walk.

ok, getting a bit lost in thought and sleepy.

time for bed,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

day 41, 8:20pm, sun drunk

(out of phone service, late post)
the best way that i can describe today's experience is that i had a huge hangover.
i guess it makes sense. my body is low on water and electrolytes. so i spent the day drinking sports drinks and water. i was a little light on food, but i managed to have a decent sized dinner.

i'm not staying at a hotel tonight, but i am at a shelter next to an onsen. i've gotten cleaned up and i've taken a long cool shower and a long cool bath.

i think it's finally over and i'll be sure to drink lots tomorrow.

i don't think i'll make temple 1 tomorrow. i chose comfort over distance tonight.

snake count 29!
and i saw some monkeys, but that's another story.