It feels like just a couple of weeks ago that I published my last Camino article, however, the reality was that I actually wrote the post in February, with 100 days to go. Apparently, the time has passed since then and as I sit here writing today, Tim and I have less than two weeks till we catch our flight. Whilst this is an exciting time (and one I was beginning to think would never actually arrive), the panic has officially set in. After another evening spent dedicated to Camino training, Tim made the mistake of asking me how I was feeling about our upcoming trip. As my fears spilt out and filled the air between us, I figured that it was probably time that I give you all an update. So starting in chronological order, here is what is currently niggling my brain.
Transport to the airport
For the first time ever, I am getting public transport to the airport. I want to clarify that I am not a public transport snob. I only recently passed my driving test and have been dependant on buses and trains for my entire life. However, knowing that it is out of my power to ‘just leave a few hours earlier to be safe’ is getting to me. Tim has assured me that we have left more than enough time for our airport arrival and have even accounted for extra in case something goes wrong. I’m not sure you can ever really estimate the length of a train breakdown or delay though…goodbye flight.
Potential terror attack
I know that a terror attack is very unlikely and I also realise that the chance of me being caught up in one is very low, no matter where I am. Even this knowledge doesn’t stop terror being a very real worry of mine though. I have researched the ‘correct’ way to react in this situation and I now need to simply hope that in the worst case scenario, my common sense will overpower my natural instinct of screaming hysterically. If you want more information on what to do in a terror attack, have a look at the BBC’s official guide. Let’s be honest, if you want anyone giving you advice on how to stay alive, it is definitely Bear Grylls.
I know how nature works and it scares me. The predators always go for the most scared looking prey. Put simply, the most vulnerable prey is me. Whilst I try my best to walk around confidently like I could easily break the arm of any wise guy who wants to try it, my neurotic eyes give me away. I just need to hope that by spreading my money across my person and thinking of some inventive new hiding places, I will avoid losing anything too valuable.
French train strike
I was so happy when I booked our train tickets to St. Jean, however, this joy was short lived as just two weeks later the French rail network announced strikes, affecting at least 3 days a week across summer. That will be okay I thought, only a 42% chance of our train being affected…just my luck. Currently, there are warnings of extreme delays and potential cancellations, great.
Accommodation in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
This is another burden that has been heavily weighing on my mind. We are yet to book any accommodation for our arrival in St. Jean, meaning that an intense struggle is likely to ensue as soon as we arrive over the need for a bed. Whilst part of me is telling myself this is a problem I can quickly resolve by booking something now, the fear resulting from the French train strike is holding me back. Who knows whether we’ll even get there?
My relationship with walking
When I agreed to do the Camino de Santiago, it seemed like a fun idea that would make me sound really cool. Whilst I don’t dislike walking, I’m definitely not a seasoned hiker and this worries me. Since my last post when preparation for the walk of my life was going very badly, I have made the effort to start getting in some training. I have done some walking that I enjoy, usually culminating in a bottle of wine or fish and chips. What really scares me, is that I will get five miles into the Camino and realise that I actually hate walking. This epiphany could certainly put a downer on the next couple of months.
The presence of mountains
When I first said yes to Tim’s crazy idea to walk across Spain, I will admit I knew absolutely nothing about what I had agreed to. I didn’t know what the temperature would be, what the terrain would be like or even how long a mile actually is. It is safe to say that since that flippant ‘yes’ I have learnt a lot already. One thing that is hugely concerning me, is the presence of hills and in fact, actual mountains along the Camino. I come from the flattest part of the UK, where the biggest hills we have are speed bumps. The thought of ascending over a thousand meters above sea level makes me feel pretty sick, to be honest.
As a privileged member of the minority redhead group, this is a constant worry for me whenever I step outside. I burn easily. So easily in fact, that I have managed to get burnt in one of the most polluted cities in the world without actually ever seeing the sun during my stay. Naturally, I will be taking precautions to avoid getting burnt but as a redhead, turning lobster red whenever the temperature surpasses 18 degrees is a sad inevitability.
Many of you loyal readers will know that I don’t have a very good history when it comes to animals. It’s not that I don’t like them but rather sadly, they all seem to want to kill me. If there is anything I have learnt in my 27 years, it is that animals are like children, they smell fear and they attack. You would have assumed that growing up in the country would have forced me to get over my irrational fear of anything fast moving with more than two legs but alas, this is where the trauma stems from. Having been attacked by a gang of angry goats in a children’s petting zoo (I have literally no idea how these places are allowed to run when the animals are so vicious), I have developed a rather strong dislike/intense fear of goats. I will admit, I don’t know much about Spanish wildlife but I am pretty sure that goats roam freely in the mountains. Not just any goats either, those massive, scary ones with the curly horns. Even if I am fortunate enough to enjoy the Camino, I am sure I will spend the entire 500 miles a nervous wreck, constantly anticipating a goat ambush.
Coping with the monster that is my monthly cycle
Most women will tell you, periods suck. It is hard to describe what having a period actually feels like but I would liken it to transforming into a Walrus. It makes you feel fat, bloated and super aggressive but only with your words, because you literally feel too disgusting to even move. Tackling any day when you know you have to manage your leaking vagina is tough but I can only imagine how horrendous a week of walking twenty miles each day in the baking hot sun will be. Thankfully, I have discovered the menstrual cup which is my period assistant of choice. Despite the numerous pros of this delightful silicone saviour, I am not looking forward to the awkward looks washing the cup in a public sink surrounded by pilgrims.
I know that on the surface this seems a little extreme but it is entirely possible. I am very scared of it raining on the Camino. Not just because I hate being outside in the rain but also because I am very worried about my feet. I realise that I am going to get blisters and this thought is bad enough. Throw in a few rips on the side of my boots and some boggy, wet ground, coupled with lack of accommodation availability and there you have it: Trench-foot. Tim has tried reassuring me that the likelihood of me getting Trench-foot is pretty much non-existent but after foolishly googling some photos and the symptoms, I am going to be hyper-vigilant in any case.
The free wine tap etiquette
This might be the thing I am most excited about on the Camino. There is a tap that just pours wine. Have you ever heard of anything so godly in your life?! If anything is going to get me through walking hundreds of miles, it is the incentive of free wine. I have given much thought to the wine tap and have reached the conclusion that it must be limitless, in order to serve the thousands of pilgrims who frequent it each year. My main concern surrounding the wine tap is not knowing the correct etiquette. Realistically, if I make it to the wine tap, I am not going to just want a mouthful of wine. I am probably going to want to sit within reach of it for a few hours for regular top-ups, at least until I can no longer feel the rotting blisters on my feet. Is this an acceptable use of the tap or will I be thrown off the Camino for not wanting to share with thy neighbour? If anyone has any tips on how to take advantage of the wine tap in a socially acceptable manner, please do let me know.
Booking onward flights
Owing to the fact that our Camino journey is a loose plan which is largely being conducted on the fly, we have not yet been able to book our South America flights. This worries me greatly because I fear that by the time we know what we are doing, the flights will be crazy expensive and will take an unprecedented chunk out of our budget. Forking out thousands of pounds on flights would be bad but it is still preferable to the alternative of waiting for the flights to get cheaper and seeing them increase in price. I have literally no idea what to do for the best.
This brings us to my final and ultimate Camino based fear. If I am lucky enough to embark on the Camino, survive the angry goats and avoid splattering my fellow pilgrims with menstrual blood, I’d like to think I’d be pretty happy. However, all of these achievements become irrelevant if I am not able to finish the walk. With so much to worry about in the lead up to the event, I must remind myself to stay focused on the end result: that is, to make it Santiago Compostela (hopefully without Trench-foot).
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