Friday, May 3, 2013

Going Our Way?: We're Walking the Camino!

If you have been following this blog, you might remember that I was entranced by the idea of walking “The Way.”  A few years ago, I first heard about Camino de Santiago de Compostela and wondered then if this super-long walk was something that would be appropriate for Will and myself.  We had researched best “easy” hikes in the world, and had already completed New Zealand’s Milford Track—which we enjoyed the luxury way with warm meals prepared for us at the end of each day, and private bedrooms and showers for our rest and recuperation.

Will had always been an avid hiker, but I was not keen on hikes that involved carrying a loaded backpack, eating indifferent processed foods, battling unpredictable weather conditions, encountering any insects…  In short, I was not that keen on hiking.  But I was struck by the “pilgrimage” component of the Camino, and the idea stayed with me.  Then, as everyone knows, the Martin Sheen/Emilio Estevez movie came out, and we—along with many others—started seriously contemplating walking “The Way.” 

After a lot of planning (getting Will’s sabbatical approved, finding a home for our dog Katie, arranging for flights, etc.), we also ran into some glitches.  Will had to have meniscus surgery on his left knee after having had the same surgery on the right knee last April.  So, it looks like we won’t walk the entire 490.3 miles between southern France and western Spain that comprise the most popular of the camino paths.  But we’ll do as much of it as we can.

Will is disappointed that he won’t be able to do the “whole” Camino.  Me, less so.  (Did I mention that I wasn’t that keen on hiking?)  I’m finding it easy to be philosophical about this since some of those elevation differences (the parts we should be skipping over) frightened me a bit anyway.  But, in addition to that, I wonder if successfully navigating the rest of our lives—the second “half” after our current “mid-life”—involves coming to terms with our failures as well as our triumphs.  It might be a cop-out, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, we are soon to embark on a kinder, gentler camino than we planned for initially.  We plan to head to Pamplona which would have been towards the end of the third day of the hike originally.  Then we will pick up from there and see how far we can walk each day.  Hopefully we will end up doing most of the remaining 450 miles or so, but it might just be 10 miles instead of 17 or 18 that we’ll complete per day.  Maybe we’ll take a train through the meseta region (the central plains area which offers no shade—or many services). 

It’s not impossible that I’ll get to the second day of the hike—I think I can last one day at least—and revolt: “I’m not carrying 20 pounds on my back, sleeping in hostels with hundreds of other people, sharing a bunk with bed bugs, urinating out in the open with no cover, and eating HAM for 33 days!”  I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, but I’ll report back.

In the meantime, please enjoy browsing through the blog.  For your ease, I am listing the top 10 most-visited posts:

I’ll be back in July and will let you know how we fared on the Camino!  Who knows?  Perhaps I might even be able to report on our progress along “the Way.”