Regular readers will know that I have been planning to walk the Via de la Plata which follows the old Roman Road from Seville to Granja de Moreruela in the Spanish province of Zamora. At Granja the pilgrim must chose between the Camino Sanabrés which heads westward through Galicia or continue on to Astorga and hook up with the tail end of the Camino Frances. Both routes lead to Santiago de Compostella and both are approximately 1000 kilometres. Until recently I didn’t know which option I would take once I came to the fork in the road. If I didn’t figure it out along the way, I could always flip a coin at the last minute, I reasoned. Well, a coin-toss won’t be necessary. Plans have changed and unfortunately I won’t be doing my second camino in 2017.
Last month I exchanged a few emails with my former employer, Woodbine Entertainment Group. The guy who replaced me in 2014 has since moved on to a management position at another racetrack and the people at WEG were asking if I knew anyone who might be interested in filling the now vacant position. I wasn’t interested in doing nightly live television and frankly, I didn’t know anyone who would be interested in the job when I left and I certainly haven’t run into anyone in Rajasthan. This past Thursday we exchanged a few more emails and before the day was out I had accepted a job offer. Starting with the opening night at Mohawk Racetrack on April 13, I will author the Mohawk and Woodbine Journal.
Some of you will be surprised to learn that I am returning to the world of horse racing. I’m as surprised as anyone. I didn’t burn any bridges when I left the game in 2014 but to be honest, I just didn’t see myself returning to the same job. The difference this time around is that I can do the work from home. No more rush-hour commutes through some of the worst traffic in North America. No more suits and ties. No more make-up. Well, I may occasionally use some make-up, but not to dull the shine on my chrome dome while sitting under blinding studio lights for five hours a night. The game-changer is that I can perform this new role from anywhere with an internet connection. That will be a loft in Toronto for the summer but at the first sign of snow it could also be Bangalore, Bangkok or Buenos Aires. Anyplace warm and cheap will be considered.
While sitting in the airport on the morning of Saturday #143, waiting for my flight from Seville to Madrid, I updated the spreadsheet that I use to track where I’ve stayed every night since leaving Toronto on July 1, 2014. I knew that I was on Saturday #143 and had I walked the Via de la Plata I would have landed in Santiago around Saturday #150. For the last few months I’ve thought that it would be nice to wrap up this amazing adventure with a nice round number like 150. But what’s a number? It means very little, to be honest. The trove of memories I’ve amassed over the last three years are much more important to me than any number.
As I stared at the list of hostels, hotels, yurt camps, bus stations, ferries, and overnight trains and planes I realized that I have never added up the actual number of night’s that I’ve spent on the road. It only took a few seconds to add a new column to the spreadsheet and hit “fill”. What I saw next was a bit of an eye-opener. Monday, March 27 will be my last night on the road and it just happens to be Night #1000.
I’ll get my ‘nice round number’ after all. And I couldn’t be happier.