NAMI Walk/NAMI Camino

I started a new project today, researching the route for my NAMI Camino.

I Walk For The Mind Of America

April 28 will be my fourth Walk to raise funds for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).  I have been most gratified by the support from friends who help me give back to this organization that has made such a difference in my life, and hundreds of thousands of others.

History Of NAMI

Since its founding in 1979, by a bunch of uppity Wisconsin women who said There is no such thing as a schizophrenic family; we did NOT cause our children to have this devastating BIOLOGICAL disease, NAMI has been a beacon of light, education, advocacy, and support first to families and then to persons living with mental illness.

My History With NAMI

In my case, Peer to Peer, a 10 week class helped me to understand, come to accept, and learn skills to live with my illness, whatever they think it is this week.

So the fact that I would be out of town, out of county, out of country on April 28 could not deter me.  I am insanely proud of myself and of my friends who have raised over $4000 in the first three walks, and of Team Prozac Monologues that raised even more in just two years.  Mazie the wonder dog gets credit for $250 in 2010, when she was recovering from her stroke in the last year of her life.  If I wasn't going to be in town, I would just have to do the walk wherever I was.

Which is Costa Rica, turning my NAMI Walk into a NAMI Stroll.  (It's a lot hotter here in April.)  Or better yet, a NAMI Camino.

The NAMI Camino

Like El Camino to Santiago de Compostela, there are a number of choices for route.  Unlike the better known Camino, neither Francis of Assisi nor Martin Sheen have walked any of my choices.  Martin is sure welcome to join me!  And maybe that would be appropriate -- though I am not going there today.

Anyway, I woke up early Wednesday, stuck the pedometer in my pocket and managed to get out the door at 6 AM.  This really is going to work a lot better if I get out the door by 6 AM.

My first trial run started with a left, a right, a left again and up the hill.  The big hill.  It's been a few years since I made it all the way up that hill.  1.5 K to the top, not a long distance, but you haven't been up that hill.  Coming down, I did switchbacks to keep my balance.

It's a nice view, and if I can find a camera, I want to take pictures to post for you to see.  It's not this view.  This is from the north, and I didn't walk to get to it.  Helen took it from the balcony of an artist we don't know -- we are friends of friends who were staying there in her absence.  We can't afford to live within walking distance of this balcony.  So my photo, if I can get it, will be from the south.

Traveling today's route, I went through my neighborhood, said good morning to the welder who had six little mangos in his hands.  I had one in my pocket.  I passed the place where I buy fruit, the place where I buy cheese, and the meeting place for NA and AA.  I am very pleased to know the man who started the AA group in Coco in his living room.  It's not easy maintaining recovery if you are a gringo in Coco.

At 4 K I reached the beach on the south side, just out of frame on the left side of that photo above.  In low tide, which I think we will have, the morning on the 28th, you can walk along the southern end of the beach on volcanic rocks, and around to Playa Blanca, uninhabited and inaccessible by land most of the time.

But it was high tide, and already 4 K, and I hadn't eaten yet.  So I turned north, reaching 5 K at my favorite soda, the Costa Rican word for diner.

That would be a good place to end my NAMI Camino, with a celebration breakfast of gallo pinto con huevo y cafe con leche, the typical Costa Rican breakfast.  Soda Navidad is more authentic than this photo.  White bread is available, if you ask, I suppose. But if you don't, you get tortilla.  As you should.

Still Researching The Camino

After the trial run, I don't think this will be the route.  Helen is walking with me, and she has some foot issues right now.  Next trial, straight down the Boulevard to La Playa, then up one side, down the other, and back to Soda Navidad.

Recovery In Costa Rica

All the while exploring this route, thinking of my readers, I have been grateful for how this little fishing village has contributed to my own mental health recovery.  I am forced out of brooding as I figure out every day how to meet basic needs, how to cook yucca, how to coax the washing machine to spin, how to kill the scorpion squeezed into the corner while wearing flip flops.  My neurons get all this healthy new dendrite growth from my newly acquired language skills.  I can manage the cucaracha issue in my casita better than the rise of neo-Nazis up north.  I am just too busy to think about all those things that make me crazy, at least as much as I do up north.

I am surprised every day by some gift, sometimes a mango falling from the sky, sometimes a neighbor who went fishing and wants to share, sometimes a stranger who gives us seeds when we admire his flowers.  Pura vida -- pure life!

That is not to say that there is no mental illness in Costa Rica.  Remember to do that dialectical thinking here.

You Are Part Of This Camino

Anyway, so on April 28 I make my NAMI Camino on a route yet to be determined through Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

You can be part of this little adventure by sponsoring me.  Just pull out your credit card and click this button.

It will take you to my personal fund-raising page where you can make a safe, secure, tax-deductible contribution to NAMI, and leave a message to boot!

How cool would it be if my Prozac Monologues readers helped me beat my previous high of $1810?

One way or the other, you will be with me.  I will be thinking of my readers.  I will be thinking of my friends.  Some of you, I will be thinking of your own stories that you have told me.  I will be walking in honor of you.  I will be thinking of all of us in this together, walking whatever route we are walking -- walking in hope.

photo of author by Charles McConnell, used by permission
NAMI logo from
photo of Team Prozac Monologues, 2010 by Judy, used by permission
photos of Playas del Coco and flower by Helen Keefe, used by permission
AA logo in public domain
photo of Gallo Pinto by James Diggans, used under Creative Commons license
photo of Soda Navidad employee, source unknown

1 comment:

  1. That's an interesting ideea. Congratulations, it seems you were very succesful with that project.


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