Here is my disclaimer for this blog—Jackie and I have not taken on anything quite this challenging in our lives and we have two basic interests in putting our activities on paper. First, when we have finally walked the Camino, we hope that this blog will be something we can look back on and remember what novices we really were “back when we began.” Second, we know that we have family and friends who will find the grind and rewards “amusing.”
For those who do read the blog, please forgive our self-indulgence. Frankly, we really don’t know what we are doing, but are learning every day, and the dream of walking the Camino is getting more and more real as the preparation goes on. I’m sure that we will experience many emotional moments on the walk, but if it were not “fun,” I doubt that we would be doing it. Therefore, as we prepare, we are attempting to have as much fun as possible.
Yesterday, we walked the equivalent of 1,600 trips to and from the refrigerator—that is five and one-half miles if you prefer that measurement. Five and one-half miles…..that’s a walk!! And in the middle of our walk, it began raining. But like the purposeful pilgrims that we are, we kept walking. It was really fun. Jackie thought it was one of the most fun things we had ever done together. Unfortunately, after a walk like that, there is the period when you sit down and then try to get back up—that was less fun. We were both extremely stiff and sore.
Our walking began a little over two weeks ago. Our first week totaled 11 miles, and we finished our second week with 22 miles. Our goal for this week is to manage 25 to 30 miles. We hope that by Memorial Day weekend we can manage 30 to 40 miles of walking during a three day stretch. That is the goal we have set.
We have been attempting to walk three to four miles each evening. With the weather being iffy, as it has been, we have missed a few days, but that too seems to help us recover and our muscles appear stronger after the days off.
It’s important to understand that I, particularly, have avoided any exercise at any cost in the recent past. I know that I have not traveled five and one-half miles in one day by foot in at least forty years. Jackie believes that she was walking more miles than that during her tenure as a waitress in her 20’s.
I do know, that each of us experienced the dreadful thought “what did I get myself in for” after two days of walking. The third day was tough on both of us, and we were very quiet after that walk—both sore and stiff and disappointed with the thought that perhaps the goal was out of reach. However, in the days since, we have been gaining strength and endurance each day. We are getting confident.
At Saginaw Country Club, where I play golf, one member has put on more riding cart miles than anyone else….Me. So when I informed friends that I was planning to walk and carry my bag this year, they were all skeptical. I’ve held to my word so far, but the season is young. By the way, the front nine is 2.3 miles of walking, while the back nine is 2.2 miles. I know this, thanks to an app that I downloaded to my phone named “MapMyWalk.” With the GPS feature, we get immediate feedback on the distance walked, time taken, and calories burned. We use the app for every walk.
Next week should be an interesting one too. We are vacationing in St. Martin and plan to do our long walks on Orient Beach—one and one-half miles each way. St Martin will also be our training site for another aspect of The Camino—wine.
Apparently, wine is a very important part of The Walk. Wine is the expected drink at every meal. We will try to prepare during our week away. Sigh….training is so tough.
On another front related to The Camino, we have begun some serious reading. I have now read six or seven of the books, which are accounts of others’ journeys in Spain. It has been interesting to see how people view The Camino from such different perspectives. Jackie is matching me in the reading department.
Some authors are purely interested in giving “diary-like” reviews of the trip, the terrain, the sleeping quarters and the food. Others are intent on discovering their “feelings.” Some are interested in the physicality, while others are on spiritual journeys.
We hope to continue with regular updates to our efforts, but there shouldn’t be a lot of earth shaking events happening until we hit Spain.
Needless to say, we are building quite a library of books. The collection is now over 30, and growing. We are committed…..and Amazon loves me.
And, on the shoe front. Jackie is still rocking her hiking boots, but I am now on my fourth pair of shoes–two pairs of hiking boots and two pairs of sneakers. I like the sneakers, but will be moving back into the boots soon.
A little more history………
The Camino de Santiago (Or St. James Way) was established as a Christian pilgrimage to the Galacian Cathedral de Santiago where the purported remains of Jesus’ disciple, James, are held. Begun in the Middle Ages, this pilgrimage became the most traveled pilgrimage in the world. Pilgrims from all over Europe traveled to this resting spot, with the highest traveled route being between St. Jean Pied-de-Port in southwestern France to the cathedral, located in northwestern Spain. We intend to walk that route.
As the route became widely established, hostels were established for the pilgrims, and small towns were established to care for the traveling pilgrims. In the early days of The Camino, walkers were provided with letters from their churches, which acted as their passports on the journey, allowing them to stay in the hostels and giving them special meals along the route. Today, “pilgrims” receive a passports at their starting points, which are stamped at various hostels, churches and bars to act as proof of the travelers motives and give the pilgrims the rights to various accommodations and meals along the way. While we intend to stay at some hostels, we also plan to stay at small hotels and pensions.