Preparing for the Camino de Santiago: At a Crossroads
The Camino De Santiago is an age old walk, stretching out before the tired feet of pilgrims making their way along the 800 Kilometre path through Spain; The Way of St James. While the pilgrimage was named after a Christian Saint, its origins date back far beyond the 12th century, transcending the barriers of religion and offering solace, reflection and renewal to all. The path has been known to transform people entirely, giving the precious gifts of inspiration, creativity and imagination as day by day the landscape around you changes. As you put one foot in front of the other, you rediscover what it means to be quiet, peaceful and free, and the pilgrimage gives you the chance to re-member your purpose on this Earth. At least that’s what I’ve read.
I am embarking on this walk to rediscover myself as well, to take the threads of the sky, the hues of the wind and weave them together to create one incredible masterpiece that has been woven on the loom of life. I want to draw breath from the world around me and pour the inspirations and musings into a hot casket and then mould them into words. I want to better my writing with the sun as my teacher and the moon as my mentor and find the true meaning of me. This adventure also comes at a very interesting time for my family and I. It has just been our 3-year anniversary of starting out on our world journey without a return ticket. We are at a crossroads of sorts, one that will determine our next steps in life as individuals and as a unit.
I am one of the many who will venture out into the unknown this summer of 2015. I will be surrounded by others, some young, some old, all wanting to have the adventure of pioneering to discover their own new world. All of us will have to be prepared for the walk both physically and mentally but most importantly practically. Remember that what you decide to bring, you’ll most likely be carrying on your back and for as long as your walking journey lasts. You don’t want to end up packing too much and then facing the pilgrimage in a way where every step you take is agony. You also don’t want to end up packing too little and then freezing your feet off because you didn’t bring enough socks. You want to be able to have the perfect balance so that not only can you enjoy the sun on your face and the wind in your hair but so you can enjoy the little comforts that bring a smile to your eyes at the end of the day when the torch has failed, and a rainstorm is about to hit. To have the best of both worlds, it really comes down to what equipment you decide to bring and what quality that equipment is.
To make sure you have the perfect assembly for yourself, I recommend doing a test run. Find a long hiking trail close to home, pack what you would bring and set off on your experiment. I can say from experience, this helps immensely. We too ran a test run. Packing our things into our Deuter Backpacks, strapping our Quechua Pop Up Tents on and tying our rainbow medley of Asics walking shoes on our feet (our Birthday presents from Grandma), we embarked on a 22 Kilometre roundtrip walk to our favourite Andalusian beach on one of the hottest days in summer so far. But hey, while some steps were pure agony, the ordeal taught us a few very important lessons. We made it home at the end of the day with huge smiles on our faces at the achievement. Even Grandma made it back in one piece, happy, healthy and a few kilos lighter!
I would also suggest (if you are to be camping along your journey), to take the tent out of its case and try putting it together a number of times. Since we will be camping in separate two-person tents, for the first time Lalika and I will be responsible for the caretaking of our own tent, and that includes the opening and closing of it. We spent a couple of afternoons practising, suffering through the minor injuries we received from being careless and allowing the Pop Up Tent to explode out in what resembled a bomb eruption. But in the end, it was all worth it for our final time to pack the tent away was a mere two minutes and 14 seconds!
Many people, bloggers and experienced hikers have written that it is also extremely important to have a plan when embarking on an adventure like this one. Many also suggest writing a schedule to keep to so that you can start and finish in good time. In good sportsmanship, we made a plan too. Our plan is that we would rise by 8, start walking by 9, walk 25 – 36 kilometres a day, finish by 2, find a place with WiFi to work until 6, eat dinner by 8 and sleep by 10. I do think that to have a rough draft, an imperfect plan is important when you are embarking upon a journey as long and hard as this but what I also forgot to mention is that time fades away and can’t transcend the barriers of your own mind that is revelling in the freedom of choice that this pilgrimage will bring.
What is extremely important to remember is that you will make memories as you walk, so many memories. Some good, some not so good. All will be remembered. Just keep in mind that while it may get tough and while there might be some points where you will want to put your head in your hands and quit… Don’t, because this is the chance you have been waiting for to reflect, revitalise and renew! This is your chance to pay homage to the beautiful planet that we call home; to give it your all to accomplish a dream and to celebrate yourself. So take a leap of faith and remember that no matter how dark the night, the sun always rises.
Our Camino journey will begin on the 26th of June 2015. I’ll be keeping regular updates on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Be sure to check them out!
Much love, Dreamtime Traveler.