Prepping for El Camino

Despite the fact that this is going to be my third Camino, it is still as exciting as the first, I guess it must be the expectation of adventure. So here are some thoughts and advice on preparing for the Camino:

Knowing that the pilgrimage to Santiago has been around for centuries (there was a pagan trek to Finisterre (the end of the world in Latin) before Christianity modified it to their needs) means that it can be done – and should be done with minimum amount of technology, help, etc. For me the Camino is a return to basics, so I do not book hotels, I do not use a phone app, nor use high tech clothes (other than shoes). This allows for a freer mind.

Because of this minimalist approach I do not have to worry about packing: just 3 pairs each of socks, underwear, shorts, T-shirts, a poncho, a sweatshirt, flip flops, Marseille soap for body and laundry, dopp kit, swiss army knife, water bottle, hat, walking stick, sunglasses, little else actually.

A more pressing issue for me is what to read on the Camino. There are at least a couple of schools of thought: one is to read something that has nothing to do with your journey. The second is to read something germane with your trip. I am in the second camp. My first outing I read a book on the parable of Abraham and Isaac and the Book of Job. On my second outing I re-read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, that fellow pilgrim James gave me on the first outing! This year I had a few options: Flaubert’s Madame Bovary which I finally have in French, Kathleen Dowling Singh The Grace in Dying, and finally the chosen option The Way of Ignatius, A Prayer Journey Through Lent, by Gemma Simmonds who was my sister’s teacher in school! Granted, Lent is over, but one should always be ready for a “prayer journey”.

As important as the kit is the actual physical preparation. This year I also had to break in new shoes, so I killed two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone: breaking in new shoes and training. The trick is to slowly add miles and weight to your pack in training with the goal of breaking in the shoes and your back!! This year I did a few solo outings and one with a couple of friends – and their dog – in nearby El Pardo natural park.

This week I bought my train ticket to Irún and a pair of socks (to replace a lost pair), but these are no ordinary socks, 60% Merino wool, no seams, and cushion. The original ones were Darn Tough socks from Vermont, this pair is Icebreaker from New Zealand.

The final details involve getting stuff done before leaving for a month, and getting the last items purchased and prepared. Follow my Instagram (Tonxob) or Facebook (tonxo balson) for daily photo uploads of the trip, starting June 3…

Camino de Santiago #3 The North Route

Repeat pilgrims of the Camino number their Caminos by sorties, not by completed Caminos. That means that I have done two Caminos although I have only completed one, since I did it in two parts. So for veteran pilgrims, I am no preparing to embark on my third Camino!

Also I must apologize for my recent silence, I have been immersed in a project you will soon learn about. But now back to the Camino…

Being a freelancer nowadays means that I can take the whole month of June for my walkabout. After much consideration: De la plata (from Seville), Portugués (yeap, from Lisbon), Aragonés (from the Pyrenees), I settled on the Norte: all along the breathtaking North Shore of Spain, starting in Hendaye in France.

Over the last three years people have asked me why I do the Camino. The answer is multi faceted, but the main one is being far from the madding crowd (thanks Mr. Hardy), alone, in silence, in a state of almost constant meditation, meeting people from all over the world and sharing the walk and meals (and yes, the bathrooms and bunk beds) with them, getting to know this wonderful country more and more intimately, taking part in something much bigger and far older! than oneself. Finally it is the physical bit, the sport, the personal challenge of walking every day for days. As I have said before in this blog, the Camino is what the world should be like. So much so, I think I might be addicted to the Camino!! I will keep you posted on my adventures.

Source: Club Renfe magazine

Source: Club Renfe magazine