Silly things I’m learning on “The Way”
I’m probably not telling anyone anything new but it is all new to me as a walker so either follow along or tune this one out.
Zip lock baggies are the best invention since sliced bread – certainly for the walker, but then again so are blister plasters! Back packs are inherently irritating things; on the one hand there are all sorts of external pockets and straps and loops – which you have to figure out by trial and error as to their “perfect purpose” and on the other hand there is this big middle space which most everything gets jammed into. Now I know that there is a certain science to packing that space – light things at the bottom, heavy stuff in the middle and then light again at the top, but inevitably the one thing you need the most – like your plasters – are buried at the bottom or hidden in the middle.
Zip locks in all sorts of sizes work fabulously in keeping like things together (remember those kindergarten games of “which of these things doesn’t belong”?) in your back pack. At the very least the baggies allow you to empty out your pack whilst hunting for those elusive plasters, in the middle of some plaza, without looking like a complete idiot to the constant and extraordinarily polite passersby who always wish you ”Bon Camino” (yes know we are in Spain but thats’ what everyones says) or “Hola” or “Buenas Dias”.
A good pair of walking sandals are wonderful too. I started out with the intention of just wearing the very good, very comfortable boots I have and a pair of flip flops for “off” hours. What I didn’t take into consideration is that my feet sweat – sometimes profusely and the boots just don’t get a chance to dry out – which leads in turn to really sweaty, stinky (really stinky!), blistered feet. Our “free” day in Pamplona actually became a morning of traipsing all over the city looking for walking sandals – not just schlep around things but sandals which can handle 20 k. without destroying your feet!
Wool socks – the kind your grandmother probably knitted are the best socks – ever. They cushion your feet, absorb huge amounts of moisture (a polite euphemism for sweat), wash beautifully and actually seem to dry way better than the high tech, bamboo, moisture wicking, double layered fancy ones I bought for big bucks. Maybe its just me….
My knees also sweat – I am not kidding – the rest of me may look dry and my trousers are sopping wet all around my knees. My idea is that the titanium gets hot and sort of cooks my knees from the inside out – I don’t know….. Anybody have any theories?
I can’t speak to any other part of Spain but this little section we have seen is incredibly clean and almost obsessively neat. The kitchen gardens are ridiculously perfect, there isn’t any trash anywhere (coming fresh from India this seems impossible really) and peering down on villages and farm land from all the ridges we have traversed, all appear to have been laid out with a view to creating the most harmonic and pleasing vistas imaginable.
Nobody in Spain gets up before say 10; we have walked through towns and villages and until about then I swear you could shoot a cannon down the main thoroughfare and not hit anything – that includes cats, dogs, cows, chickens and cars!
On the other hand everybody, including all the children, stays up until all hours at night. This puts us at a “slight” disconnect – I think the absolute latest we have managed to stay awake is about 10 pm! I have always known this of course from other travels in Spain but somehow there is a visceral difference when you are getting up early to walk kilometres before the heat of the day and not therefore adapting to local custom.
The Camino attracts all kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons. That movie “The Way” has probably done more to promote (positively or negatively?) the entire walk than any one other reason. I can’t begin to tell you how many people upon being queried about their reasons, have responded “The Way”. I don’t really know how I feel about people undertaking major events in their lives because of a movie – remember “Eat, Pray Love”? And NO I didn’t do that! On the one hand doing anything which stretches you and makes you grow is good right? One the other – maybe finding better inspiration would be a good idea? What if you were inspired by “Dumb and Dumber”?