Ignite your inner adventurer and delve into the unknown on this journey of transformation. The Inside Hustle shakes off the ordinary for the extraordinary, delivering thought-provoking wisdom for the now moment with fierce authenticity, honesty and humour.
Living through 9/11 in New York, Joanna Walden experienced a moment of clarity, which propelled her to search for something greater than her 9-5 existence. Leaving her high-flying career on Madison Avenue behind her, she hikes the Camino de Santiago through Spain beginning the comedy of errors in her search for both purpose and a greater truth. Journeying around the globe, Joanna climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, imbibes plant medicine, consults energy healers and shamans, determined to solve the problem of herself. After the death of her father, she swaps her Brazilian boyfriend for a Brazilian girlfriend, eventually finding answers right on her doorstep back home in New Zealand. It’s sex, drugs & spirituality; an unconventional path from dark to light, and a modern version of personal evolution. This transformational travel adventure takes you on a wild ride, as entertaining as it is enlightening. Are you ready to unlock the truth of who you really are?
Targeted Age Group:: 25-60
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been on a search for more meaning and purpose than the 9-5 my whole life, and along the way I was unknowingly disempowering myself in many ways keeping me further away from my dreams and what I wanted. So I was inspired to write this book to help others do it better!
Chapter: The Universe Has An Interesting Sense Of Humour.
When I departed at 6.30am the next morning, there were a few pilgrims still partying in the corner after being up all night. That morning I was reminded again that nasty hangovers and pilgrimage treks should not mix. This may be obvious to some but my terrible FOMO, combined with questionable willpower, meant socialising and boozing to excess, often so far. This was not a new thing for me. I was no stranger to a good time, no matter what situation I might have to deal with the next day. I blame genetics as I most definitely got this stamina and enthusiasm for good times from Devo. I was feeling it for sure, but not as much as the party-all-night-pilgrims who were lit up like Christmas trees as I passed them on my way out. Perhaps I wasn’t so bad after all.
As I slowly got into the rhythm of the day, I spotted snow on the mountains in the distance, exactly in the direction I was heading. I felt my stomach flip. I realised afresh I had no snow gear whatsoever. Although given I’d pretty much experienced the full gamut of weather so far and made it through okay, I convinced myself I would manage. It was not too far to Grañón, a tiny little town of one street and some decrepit buildings, where I spied a familiar Alsatian and packs sitting outside a bar. Hallelujah, an excuse for a break. I was just in time to order with the Spaniards, requesting whatever they were having plus a tortilla. I noticed the bartender making three coffees, each with a generous nip of booze in it. I had observed that the Spaniards generally seemed to start with a carajillo, or a shot of straight liquor in coffee at 7am, and then continue on with several drinks throughout the day until the evening. Surprisingly, they were never drunk but instead moved through the day in a constant state of semi-saucedness. No one blinks an eye at ordering a rather strong kick in the pants in the early hours of the morning. I’d come on this pilgrimage with expectations of a puritanically spiritual experience. In fact, I needed it after being a vehement booze hound for years. Apparently, that wasn’t very Spanish in the slightest. I took it as a sign from the Universe that perhaps detox wasn’t on the agenda after all.
After finishing our coffee, the three of us and the Alsatian set on our way. I was suddenly feeling absolutely magnificent. Not only was my hangover easing, but I couldn’t feel the dull pain in my muscles anymore. I had finally figured out how to meld the painful existence of a pilgrim with authentic Spanish life, which was a marked improvement all round. I must be a complete muppet to have not realised this earlier. Especially given the fact that most booze is cheaper than water. I was now a pilgrim in much less pain. Thank you Spain, for being such an excellent teacher. I made a mental note to be more Spanish at all times from now on.
I said farewell to the boys who were taking it slow due to the tender paws of their pooch, and powered on ahead. Despite the snow-capped peaks looming in the distance, I wasn’t worried. I’d survived the Pyrenees in torrential weather. How bad could it be? I gazed up at the vivid sky blue, filling my lungs with the beauty of it all. I passed through Redecilla del Camino, a couple of kilometres later, Castildelegado, then Viloria de la Rioja. I was aiming to stay at Villafranca that night 18km away.
An hour later, out of nowhere, I was hit with a howling gale. I stretched out my right leg with all my strength and it lingered in mid-air. It was slow motion at best. I stomped my boot down firmly to get it to the ground and then started to pull up my left. The force of the wind was holding me stationary. Was this some kind of cosmic joke? Had Mother Nature heard me talking about the fact that I had experienced the full range of weather and just wanted to point out that I had missed gale force winds? It’s not often you are power walking and making little to no progress.
It was a rather depressing irony to think of the hundreds of kilometres to go, while simultaneously going nowhere. All my energy was taken with trying to stay vertical and move forward. I had never felt anything like the force of this. I suddenly felt stinging on my legs. I was now being pelted by stones as the wind ramped up even further. In fact, as the intensity increased it felt like they were being fired from a machine gun. I never read anything about needing bloody body armour for this damn pilgrimage. My pack straps were lashing at my sides and the back of my legs leaving red welts as I struggled forward. I hadn’t eaten lunch and was rolling the back end of my hangover. The wheat fields were swaying wildly beside me in a mesmerising pattern. As I was sucked in by the rolling waves, I realised I was hallucinating. Was it some kind of acid flashback from my experimental youth? I shook my head out of the lure of my trippy surroundings to concentrate on the task at hand.
After struggling on for another two hours without much progress, the conditions finally got the better of me and I pulled an emergency stop at the closest refugio I could find in Tosantos. There were no two ways about it. I was benched.
I was ushered through a low-ceilinged doorway by a monk. He didn’t say much, nor make eye contact and directed me down the hall under low exposed wooden beams. Making my way upstairs, I found myself in what appeared to be an attic. The long, sloping roof was uneven, and exposed wooden tree branches jutted from a very rough plastering job. It looked rather ramshackle. I raised my eyebrows at the other couple of pilgrims in the room. “Is this it then?” I said, pointing to the paper-thin, woven mat on the floor. The pilgrims nodded. They didn’t seem particularly friendly either. The whole place had a very strange air to it. Although it would have been even scarier if I was alone, so I was thankful for the company.
We went downstairs at 7pm for dinner and prior to digging in, the monk announced he was going to lead a singing prayer. I was excited to experience this after the exquisitely haunting sounds of the monks singing in Roncesvalles. I hadn’t heard anything as beautiful since. The monk started making some rather guttural sounds from the back of his throat, which I thought was initial throat clearing, however it progressed into a multi-tonal wailing, which was not much better. It was more strangled cat than singing. I could feel the laughter rising, which I pushed down, by holding a stoic smile. My body shuddered as I held it deep within, eyes tightly shut waiting for him to finish. He breathed out heavily and I relaxed thinking he was done, only for him to start up again in the next breath. It was a sort of freestyle feline strangulation symphony. He continued wailing over and over again as the entire table somewhat poorly followed along to join in. I looked at the table, not a vino in sight. Lord have mercy. The dinner, if you could call it that, was a bowl of insipid mush and I was glad for my snack stash upstairs. I raided my first aid kit and doubled up on anti-inflammatories for the night on the floor, but they didn’t help much. After a shocking sleep, I got up stiff as a board early the next morning. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown Print Edition at Amazon
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown On Amazon
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown on Barnes and Noble/Nook
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown on iBooks
Buy The Inside Hustle: A Mystical Misfit’s Travel Adventure Into The Unknown on Kobo
Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought! All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.