Today, I’m hosting a guest who shares a little about himself and his musical tastes, along with an excerpt from his book. Hope you all enjoy. 🙂 See you all again tomorrow!
The Super Bowl halftime show was an overwhelming bore. Apologies to all Coldplay fans – and I know there are a lot of you – along with Beyondsay, or whatever that girl’s name is. I do enjoy Bruno Mars, although I didn’t recognize him and wondered when he was going to show up.
But that’s just me. I’m an old rock-n-roll guy. You know, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Who, stuff like that. My lovely daughter once told me that if the music does not have screaming guitars, I don’t like it. Maybe.
So please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man without wealth and taste, newly acquainted with the lovely Jamie White, who has graciously allowed me to ramble on here a little bit.
John Henry Clark is the name, and I’m a lifelong Texas guy, a former newspaper reporter turned adventurer and author, with eight books published and counting. My best seller is titled, “Camino: Laughter and Tears Along Spain’s 500-mile Camino de Santiago.” It’s about my backpacking adventures along the famous pilgrimage in northern Spain. Here’s a snippet:
A rainy night in Pamplona, and I´m standing under an awning alongside the famed Plaza del Castillo, soaking wet and smoking a nice cigar. All the bars and cafes around the Plaza are busy, and people are huddled out of the rain, drinking and eating and talking and laughing.
I arrived here only a few hours ago, and I´m wanting to ask someone if there is a store nearby, where I can buy some bread and meat for a sandwich, to take back to my hotel room. It´s been a very long day of travel from the U.S., and I am tired. I´m a little shy about my Spanish, so I wait for a friendly face to walk by. I spot a likely suspect and say, “Senor?” He takes one look at me, bedraggled and drenched, wearing a pair of khaki cargo shorts, a blue pullover fleece shirt and worn flip-flop sandals, and says, “No, no, no,” and starts to quickly walk away. Just as quickly, I move toward him and say, “Buscando para una tienda (I’m looking for a store).” He stops and we talk for just a second and then he says, “You speak English?” Could it have been the accent? I say, yes, and he directs me across the plaza and down a couple narrow streets to a little convenience store type shop, where I find what I want: a package of Spanish ham, some cheese and a small loaf of crusty bread. Oh, and two ice-cold cans of San Miguel.
Like I said, it was a hellish day of travel that got even worse when I landed in Madrid. Finding oneself in a foreign country, without being fluent in the language, is not as easy a proposition as it might seem. Asking the right questions is easy enough for me – I took Spanish in high school and actually minored in Spanish in college – but the problem comes in understanding the rapid-fire responses. It took what seemed forever to find the right bus to get me headed from the airport toward Pamplona, and by the time I finally managed to get from Barajas to the bus station in downtown Madrid, I was seriously freaking out. As I sat for several hours waiting for my bus, I kept thinking, over and over, “What in the hell have you done? What were you thinking?”
I finally made it to Pamplona, though, without much real incident, other than a gut-wrenching fear of being stranded forever in a foreign country. Needless to say, my mind gets a little carried away sometimes. And when I popped up out of the underground bus station, a Spanish angel happened to cross my path and rescue the day.
She was the second person I asked about the hotel where I had a reservation, if they knew where it was and could they direct me. Both the hotel and the bus station were supposed to be very near the Plaza del Castillo, so I thought that I would have no trouble getting where I needed to be. As I stood there on the sidewalk looking around, however, I had no clue which direction to go. Someone later told me that when one travels to an unfamiliar place, it is a good idea to carry some sort of map. Oh, yeah, ahem, um … good idea.
People were walking to and fro, so I approached a young man and asked if he knew of my hotel. He said, “No, no,” and kept walking. When I asked the next person, a young lady, she smiled and said (in Spanish) that not only did she know the hotel, she was headed that way and would I like to walk with her? Boy, howdy, would I ever! She chatted incessantly and acted as a tour guide while we walked about 10 minutes to the hotel, which is indeed right off the Plaza. I didn´t catch everything she said, but I understood quite a bit, and was mostly very grateful for her help. I must have looked pretty tired, because she even offered to carry my bag for me at one point. When we reached the front door of the hotel, she smiled and waved and walked away. I didn´t catch her name, but I certainly said, “Muchas gracias.”
Hopefully, Jamie will invite me back to share more of my musings someday. Meantime, if you’re interested, Camino and my other books are available at http://www.johnhenryiii.com/my-books.html. There is also a blog section on that website, although I haven’t updated it in quite some time. You can check out my author web page by clicking here.
Thanks, and ciao, y’all.