The Way of Lao Tzu: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The Other Way of Lao Tzu:The journey of a thousand miles occasionally begins with the realization that a thousand miles is a hell of a long journey!

TD IConThe short version: “Once Around the Room” is the blog of an American woman who walked part of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage on the Via de la Plata route in 2009, and is attempting to walk an additional 1000k in 2012, to finish the entire route. She’s hoping to raise awareness and a little bit of money for the Hyeseung Lynda Hong Memorial Scholarship and the Mood Disorders Support Group of New York City, two wonderful causes, while carrying the prayers of others along the 1000k to Santiago de Compostela.    Read below for the long, non-third person version!

In 1999, I left New York City on a whim and joined a research expedition in the rain forests of Indonesia.  I adopted the yahoo moniker “Travelingdina” and it’s been with me ever since!

I'm on a Boat!

Your friendly neighborhood blogger, on a boat!

Most of us are lucky enough to be able to walk almost every day. I discovered how important walking is to me (and my sanity!) while living in Ithaca, New York, a college town of about 5 traffic lights in an otherwise rural area. After struggling with an illness, I began walking weekly on a different stretch of The Finger Lakes Trail, sometimes as little as 2 miles up and back, sometimes as much as 14, until I’d completed almost 500 miles of the trail over the course of 5 years. It was an amazing accomplishment for a city girl like myself!

When I moved to San Franicsco, I realized how much I missed my hiking ritual. To make up for the lack of easy-to-reach trails, I set out to mindfully walk every street of San Francisco, coming home after my walks and highlighting the routes on a giant map, printed out and pasted together from Google.   This monumental task is still a work in progress, and a few people, namely Allison Walks SF, and the SF Walking Man, Tom Graham, documented it way better than I ever will!  Check them out!

While I’ve done lots of walking, I’d never done much backpacking. In 2009, I heard about the Camino Frances, or French Route, of the Camino de Santiago (later depicted in the movie, “The Way“) and was captivated! And so, with little plan and less experience, I did a small bit of research, bought a flight, and started on my attempt to walk 2 weeks on the more solitary Via de Plata route, from Zamora to Santiago de Compostela

TravelingDina Reaches the End!

The End of the Earth!
Last Stop on the Camino: Fisterra, Galicia

Despite the blisters, pulled hamstrings, some lonely stretches and countless snoring people in hostels, I found I LOVED pilgrimage. I bested my own wildest dreams: after finishing the Camino, I just couldn’t stop walking!

I continued on past Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. Later, I got a lift to Porto, in Portugal, and walked back to Santiago on the Camino Portugés; earlier, I’d made a detour to France, walking over the Pyrannes back to Pamplona on the Camino Aragones. It was an amazing, amazing experience.

As a school social worker in a district strapped for cash, my position was sadly eliminated.  But, believing, as I do, in the power of pilgrimage as a catalyst for change, I am taking this as an opportunity:  Starting in September of 2012, I’ll attempt to walk the entire Via de la Plata, roughly 1000k, from Cadiz to Zamora, then on to Santiago de Compostela via an  alternate route than the one I took in 2009.

Along the way, I plan to carry the prayers and wishes of others — spiritual seekers and agnostics alike — who are unable to make a pilgrimage themselves, for whatever reason. (Please use the link above to submit yours!) I’m also hoping to raise to raise a little bit of money for the Hyeseung Lynda Hong Memorial Scholarship and the Mood Disorders Support Group of New York City, two organizations dear to my heart.

Although this is my second Camino, and I know a little bit more what to expect, and (hopefully!) how to prepare, a slow-healing foot injury will likely force a slower pace.  I’m anticipating at least 8 weeks of walking to reach my destination. Thank you so much for your “follow” and your support!


We all start somewhere, and we can only start where we are.  And if you don’t know where to start, just go once around the room!

I believe in the power of pilgrimage as a catalyst for change.