Hey, just back from our nation's capital. (Okay, I got back last week, don't split hairs.)
But what a town, what a town! My first Ottawa evening was spent in the vibrant company of my sister-in-law's book club, gossiping about the characters in All the Good Pilgrims and consuming lots of Rioja wine. Saturday I spoke to the local Camino gathering, convened by the genial Austin Cooke, who was newly returned from a spectacular Camino that commenced at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Montserrat; talk about virgin trails! We had a fine turn-out of forty despite the fact the meeting fell plunk in the middle of Christmas shopping season. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.
Saturday night it was off to rustic Dunvegan, where I celebrated Hanukkah in the bosom of the local Jewish community (ie. Ronna and Lionel) before spending the night at Greg Byers' cozy retirement villa. Finally, Sunday afternoon I spent talking up All the Good Pilgrims at Nicholas Hoare Books.
Which brings me to something that impressed me about Ottawa: the degree of Camino awareness. Just about everyone I talked to at Nicholas Hoare already knew about it, whereas at Toronto bookstores most people are hearing about it for the first time. Is this because Ottawa is so near Quebec and its Catholic traditions? Does it have something to do with long holidays in the civil service, or early retirement? Is it all the politicians doing penance for taking envelopes stuffed with thousand-dollar bills? I wonder...
Anyway, a little off the beaten track of the Camino, the Globe and Mail published my Japan article in their weekend travel section. Nothing to do with pilgrimages -- unless of course you want to make a Memoirs of a Geisha pilgrimage.