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Way of St James
The Camino de Santiago (commonly known as the Camino Trail) or (Way of St James) is a pilgrimage trail that leads to the reported resting place of the apostle Saint James in the Cathedral of Compostela in Galicia, Spain. It’s an individual’s journey so they go at their own pace and there are no designated start or finish times.
People from all over the world Christian or not, opt to take the pilgrimage for multiple reasons and a few of my friends have successfully achieved travelling (walking that is) the whole 800km (approx. 500 miles) journey. As it can take approximately 30 days, some people opt to do sections at a time, year after year.
The main trails are made up of a network of several routes which lead to and through areas in the Southern parts of France and across Northern Spain and some of these trails are UNESCO heritage listed.
One such lady gave me an insight of her recent experiences while we were on a casual bike ride (she’s giving her feet a rest)😊 and resting with a coffee.
This lady was no stranger to walking as she would regularly organise hour long runs/walks through the bush and countryside. Whenever she travelled abroad, she’d hike the hills and walk around the towns for hours.
Her social media posts would leave me in awe at her achievements and adventures.
To train for the Camino, she always wore the specific boots that would be her only comfort between the countryside, rocks and bitumen plus with every session she’d carry her 7kg (15lb) backpack.
Although on her own for the training of this arduous challenge, her intentions were to walk with a friend who lived in another country. They met up at a specific town near the beginning of a trail to commence the pilgrimage.
Very quickly my friend had noticed that her companion moved at a slightly faster pace and with 7kg on her back she found herself constantly hurrying to keep up.
Kudos to her
Unfortunately, her feet began hurting and very quickly had developed blisters but she continued. Kudos to her! As the blisters became more sderious, her evenings and mornings were spent with a ritual that focused solely (pardon the pun) 😊 on her feet.
I can recall one social media post where she mentions ‘packing up her blister bandages, wrapping and heading off’. Her feet were at the forefront of her mind as they were literally, her transport.
20-40km per day
After 7 days, she knew that she’d have to rest up for a day which meant continuing the walk on her own; Go at her own pace. Although 20-40 km were covered each day, no new blisters appeared.
Also, it was her intention to include some sight-seeing into the trip as Spain was a new destination for her. She included a few stops on the way to be the ‘tourist’. One stop being an archaeological site near the town of Burgos, Spain.
At this UNESCO site there are fossil records of the earliest European human beings from approximately 1 million years ago so it is worth taking a day of rest. (Although I raise my hat to her as she was determined to not allow the blisters to interfere with her plans.)
Careful planning is required to know what to pack to ensure excess weight wont be encountered. As this was October, in 30 odd days the weather would be a lot cooler so her 7kg backpack was well prepared.
Shift in her mindset
While the trail was just a walk to her at the beginning, she felt a shift in her mindset a few weeks into the journey and although she endured roadways and barely visible signs and some tough going along tracks in the rain, her finish was a wonderfully different emotional experience.
Nearly every day I experienced via social media, my friend’s journey. Her story of the day was as if I was there as well, except my feet never became tired and sore.
I’d like to do a walk with her but perhaps maybe just a day hike. 😊
Go at your own pace
After listening to her story, I realised that although I wasn’t walking through Spain, my journey and especially the last 12 months has taught me that I am where I need to be.
The term ‘go at your own pace’ rang true for me. Working 10-12 hours a day does not put me any further ahead or keep me up to pace with my work associates.
Wondering why I’m not where they are in the journey is just wasted energy.
TIP: If you’re opting for a full Camino experience, there is accommodation along the way that offer’s amazing rates but it is a dormitory style so if you’re like me and find it difficult to remain quiet, it’s important to consider this if you’ll be rising early.
TIP: My friend said it’s best not to carry plastic bags as they make such a noise in the early mornings and used different coloured cloth bags instead that are environmentally friendly and can be used repeatedly on other trips – Camino’s or not.
TIP: This lady found that starting early in the day was the better option so she could beat the crowds to the next stop so get to choose the best of the beds.
TIP: A fellow traveller suggested: Because your feet are your ‘vehicle’ on this journey, make them the focus at the end and first thing every single day.
Massage your feet (blisters or not) for approximately 15 minutes, soak them in a relaxing foot bath. Moisturize and pamper them. EVERYDAY!
TIP: Keep clothing light and based on layering. For warmth, my friend carried (in her pack) 1 very warm duck down jacket that packed down to fit inside a pencil case. Amazing!!
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Included is a link to information and history of the Camino Trail.
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