Tips For Walking The Camino De Santiago In Spain
Filed Under: Lifestyle | Posted: 11/14/2007 at 11:50AM
Comments | Region: United States
Planning Your Pilgrimage
If you’re planning to walk the Camino, all or part, and intend to do it with a friend, make your choice a wise one.
If you’re a fast walker, try to pair up with someone who walks at approximately the same pace you do. Most people are slow walkers and they believe that people who walk faster than they don’t understand how difficult it is to walk a fast pace day after day. Speaking as a person who walks fast, I can vouch for the fact that it’s as difficult for a fast walker to walk slow, as it is for a slow walker to walk fast. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and can lead to unnecessary problems.
You also need to match your time schedule to that of the person you choose to go with. A surefire trouble makers are: if you have months, and the other person has weeks. Or, if you want to see all the sights, including those off the beaten path and your walking partner has to get to Burgos or Santiago by a certain date so they can catch a train or plane back home, you can be sure problems will arise.
Little things can grow into large problems and sometimes we don’t know what they are until we experience them for ourselves. If you’re a light sleeper and your walking partner snores the covers off the bunk above you, you’re looking for problems. Most people have problems with the physical aspects of long journeys on foot. Blisters, ill fitting shoes or clothing, sore muscles and tendinitis can all slow you down, put you off schedule, or even cancel your walk before it’s hardly begun. When our normal daily routine consists of sitting in front of a computer, wearing dress shoes and a suit, riding in a car or even doing physical labor but without walking, we should begin a physical exercise program that conditions us for walking ten or more miles per day, and we need to start the program months, not days or weeks, before we take on a task that may change our religious pilgrimage into an unholy funk.
The hardest part for me was the food. My normal diet doesn’t consist of coffee and croissants for breakfast, white bread and pork for lunch and eating a mostly highly refined dinner at 8:00 PM or later, all washed down with wine or beer. Once we got west of Burgos, the food choices got better. I paired up with a man from Ireland, who flew into and started at Leon, who’d done the entire Spanish Camino the year before. He knew the towns that had places to buy unprepared foods and the refugios that had cooking facilities. He also walked at approximately the same pace I did.
The friend I had gone with was a slower walker but we managed to work out a system that worked for all of us. The fast walkers went ahead, looked for the best food and lodging and made reservations for the entire crew, at one point there were four or more in our little group. We’d lose some and gain some as the days came and went.
One of the problems I found was: one of the original ones who I had started with had brought work with him. Most of his day was spent on the cell phone. He was basically running his business at home while walking the Camino. I tired quite quickly of me talking to him and him talking to someone thousands of miles away. It was also a drag having people ask me at the evening meal, whether my friend spent his whole life with a phone in his ear.
When the man from Ireland came in at Leon, we met by chance on the walk, it gave me the opportunity to walk a pace I was comfortable with and not be a third party to a conference call.
After returning to France to complete the part I’d missed because my passport had been lost in the mail, I found traveling on my own was much more to my liking. My friend and I wrote daily logs and I compiled them into The Camino Notes with pictures and sketches, and there’s lots of other information in them that can make the trip more enjoyable. Information can be found at http://www.adventureman1.com