I am about to embark on the journey of a lifetime -- a "walk" across northern Spain on the fabled Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I am taking the Camino Frances, the most famous of the pilgrim routes, which has been followed for 1,000 years.
I am traveling with my Canadian friend Michele (with one "l", not to be confused with my daughter who has 2). We have been hiking together in Palm Springs, CA, for the past five winters and have been planning this trip for two years. This past winter we purposely did "training hikes," often accompanied by our dear friend Marilyn, to simulate the distance and terrain that we will encounter in Spain.
But now it is one day away and all the last minute preparations circle around me: Do I have everything I will need for 42 days? (they do have stores in Spain.) Is my pack too heavy and what can I leave behind? (Nothing!) I can't forget to spray my sleeping bag with Permethrin (for bed bugs?! Horrors!) Am I truly prepared for rain -- lots of it?!
When we were training, Michele gave me a book entitled "Walk More, Carry Less." The first chapter talked about our fears. We often pack for our travels based on our fears -- "I might need this...", "what if this happens and I need that." The author said the first thing to do is lose your fears and pack only what you know you will need. And if you forget something, you can buy it in Spain. But losing your fears is also a reason for doing the Camino. Many people never begin a journey because of their fears, and they deny themselves wonderful experiences.
And why do I want this experience? I have been thinking about the Camino since I learned of it 13 years ago while hiking in the Pyrenees outside of Barcelona. I love the idea of a long journey by foot and the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture. I see it as both a physical and spiritual challenge, and I look forward to meeting others who are also embarking on this journey. I like the idea of learning to live with less and to lose some of the fears we confront daily. We try to control so much in our lives, but many things I will not be able to control on the Camino -- the weather, the availability of shelter and the kindness of others. All of this is part of the draw of the Camino. I hope to provide you with an opportunity to join me on this journey through this blog.