As of writing, there is officially one hundred days until Tim and I start the Camino de Santiago. After talking about the Camino like it was an abstract idea that would never evolve into something real, it’s beginning to dawn on me that this is something I have actually agreed to. To make matters worse, I have not only agreed to it but foolishly told numerous people in my 2018 travel plans post that I am doing it. I have no choice now, I must do it if it kills me.
Why am I doing the Camino?
I was recently asked by someone why I want to walk the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. I thought about my answer for a full minute and felt my cheeks redden with embarrassment. In all honesty, I hadn’t really considered why I wanted to do it. People walk the camino for many different reasons, some of them religious or spiritual, others as a test of endurance. I am going to do it because I want to prove to myself that I can. Simple. As I voiced this out loud, I realised how strange it sounded. My interrogator and his audience raised their eyebrows. They clearly thought I was insane.
My hiking history
Among those who do not do the Camino for religious reasons, there are a number of passionate hikers who treat it as an extreme walking holiday. I am someone who likes a nice stroll on a summers day but to say I am a seasoned trekker would be a vast overstatement of the truth. I would classify myself as a fair weathered walker; I enjoy fresh spring mornings, with dry grass and cirrus clouds. To date, the longest walk that I have done spanned just over two days winding through the mountains of Sapa, Vietnam. The majority of the journey was spent trying to politely refuse hand-woven purses from angry tribeswomen, slipping over into mud puddles and trying to stay dry in the violent downpour. When it was over and I was warm and dry, I felt some accomplishment but mainly relief that the nightmare had ended. It would be fair to say that the hike wasn’t as enjoyable as the tour operator had led me to believe.
Preparations for the walk of my life
As of yet, I have done pretty much nothing to prepare for the Camino. I am trying to make the effort to do at least 15 minutes of exercise a week but this is proving challenging. These feeble attempts at keep fit are leaving me with wobbly legs and a sore back but overall I do feel better about myself (when I can be bothered to do it that is). I would probably benefit from joining a gym but with the trip edging closer, I am sure that my money would be better used buying an eagerly awaited fry up (or the Spanish equivalent) after a hard days hike. Not to worry though, I am definitely going to make a concerted effort to try harder when it comes to Camino training in the next one hundred days. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I have the motivation to start doing a cheeky 10 miles here and there, but I aim to be exercising at least 3 times a week. I need to banish the thoughts that hold me back and get motivated. Namely, the idea that, ‘It’s just walking, how hard can it be…?’
My expectations from the Camino
As someone who has prepared so poorly, the only positive is that I don’t know what to expect from the walk (or maybe that’s a negative). The good thing is, not knowing anything means that my only basis for expectation is my own imagination. In my head, the Camino de Santiago involves walking over lush green hills, in perfectly warm summer weather where only wispy clouds float overhead. I will make lots of friends on the trail and the shared experience of hiking the Camino together will be a beautiful thing that both Tim and I cherish until our deaths. Every time a fellow hiker passes us, I can see their beaming smiles and waves, melting all of my social anxiety away. There is no rain on my Camino, so I am thinking hiking boots, walking shorts (which I am yet to buy) and a sweat resistant t-shirt will be everything I need clothing wise. I am also expecting (and desperately hoping) that the experience will transform my entire physical appearance to that of a Victoria’s Secret model as oppose to a Victoria sponge. Modest aims I feel. Until very recently, I was absolutely convinced that my picture of the Camino was correct. However, as the time draws closer and more people look at me quizzically when I explain what I have done to prepare, I am beginning to doubt myself.
So what the heck am I going to do?
Rest assured, I have been asking myself this important question. I write this today after taking a step in the right direction by coming home from work and doing a seven-minute HIT session. I realise its a small step, but I am giving myself a pat on the back nonetheless (and a creme egg for later). Considering the long-term plan, I intend on seeking out some packing list recommendations very soon as I know I am woefully underprepared at the moment. If someone said I had to leave for the Camino tomorrow, chances are I would be dressed like a like a scantily clad Download festival goer. Even if it weren’t for the religious aspect of the Camino, I’m not sure that attire would be fit for purpose. After I master the art of dressing for the occasion (which will probably involve purchasing a whole new wardrobe) I will begin the physical training. So far on this theme, I have bought new hiking boots which I wore to work in the snow today after slathering myself in blister plasters for the break-in process. It might not be much but at least it’s something!
Tim and I are also considering walking Weavers Way along the Norfolk Coast, a trail of around a 60 miles to prepare us for the big trip. I feel like this pro-active step is huge progress but the idea fills me with dread. What if I start Weavers Way and realise I absolutely hate walking and would rather superglue my feet together than do the Camino?! The awful thing is that because of my overzealous enthusiasm, I have already told the world my plans which means I have no choice but to finish the trek, to the very end. Even if I didn’t have someone else relying on me not to flake, the prospect of having to tell all of those people that I changed my mind, would be so embarrassing that I would have no choice but to emigrate to hide the shame.
Feel free to share any tips and advice below, it looks like I’m going to need all the help I can get.
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2 thoughts on “Camino De Santiago: Part 1 – Expectations”
Hi Sheree, I hope you enjoy every step of your Camino journey. I completed the Portuguese Coastal Way last year and it was such an amazing experience. Merino wool socks are expensive but the best for preventing blisters. I don’t know what I would have done without them. As a lot of the towns are small villages, often only one cafe and a shop I would recommend bringing this little language guide along: https://caminoways.com/experience/download-camino-ebooks/camino-phrasebook Buen Camino!
Thanks so much Lisa! I am super excited now that it is getting closer. Thanks for the heads up about the socks and the link to language guide. I have just downloaded it and it looks like it will be super helpful 🙂