Almost four in the morning. The Spanish schedule has invaded my system days before, as if in a hurry to adapt to another sunset, to another dawn. Now, is when I realize that I’m leaving. Emotion. Excitement. Like magic, and adventure comes alive!.
To be honest, fear is still absent. Now, it is time to close this book and start reading my new one!
Wednesday 3:47 pm, Mexico city.
THE FIRST MOVES BEFORE STARTING THE CAMINO
I have traveled by bus, by car, by train… but never by foot. So, I told myself: “why not walking this time?. Let’s try something different!”.
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of Saint James) was my choice. First, because you can find very affordable albergues (shelters) all along the way, and there are some signs —arrows— that can lead you to the next destination. Also, there are multiple guides to consult, so I could learn about The Way and it’s history. I should say, there is no better guide than “Outdoors”, by Raimund Joos.
Secondly, crowded places were not in my mind this time. So making the French Way —which is the most popular—, didn’t sound like a good idea. Fortunately, there are many caminos to hike, so I could pick one that suits my desires. “Northern route, here I go!”. I love the ocean, the mountains and the food of northern Spain, this Way is also one of the less hiked and less marked routes, so this sounded to me like adventure plus adventure, and lots of visual and auditive delights! I mean, “if I am going to cross Spain by foot, why not making it a little bit more rough and challenging?”.
I have read —and hospitaleros (hosts) can prove it—, that most of the hikers make the Camino in summer, so I skipped that option. Also, if your are going to hike, you should think about the weather. Winter in the north of Spain could be terrible, and all the albergues are closed to prevent crazy hikers do it at this season. Spring sounded good, but looked so far to me… Autumn was perfect, not too many hikers, not to cold, not to warm.
–Hiking boots. If you are going to walk, this is the most important. Make sure you choose well (I didn’t, and got lots of blisters!).
-Hiking sandals. To get into the shower and to let my feet breath a little bit. Hiking boots after some time can be annoying.
-Quick-dry or sportswear. (Because I hate waterproof “plastic” clothing). It will rain somedays, and walking wet with cotton clothes is completely uncomfortable. This is the best investment. “Maybe I can sleep naked, but my clothes will need to be dry next morning”, no matter if it’s cold outside. I took two long pants, one short pants, and three t-shirts.
-Good jackets. I took two because if it’s too cold outside I can wear the two of them together and don’t suffer. Some people hike just with one. To me, my second jacket worked mainly as my sleeping jacket after shower (so it helped to kept clean my sleeping bag from the inside). One jacket was windbreaker, and the other was warmer, softer and lighter, but both were quick-dry.
-Camping knife. Trust me, every time you eat, you will need it. If you want a stick, you will need it. If you want to cut a rope, cut a mushroom, cut a thread of your clothes… You will need it!
-Sleeping bag. Better if it’s compact —because you have to carry it—. Shelters are shelters and you will need one.
-Microfibre Towel. Shelters are shelters. And shower after hiking is great!
-Rope. To hang wet clothes, to use it as a belt, to repair shoes or bags… I normally cut my rope in long and short pieces while needing, so I bought a 10 meter rope (light one). I throw if away after some days of use.
-Water bottle. There are fountains, rivers, and the tap water in Spain is clean!.
-Spoon. This is a multi-use spoon. With a spoon you can eat everything that you normally eat with a fork, but with the plus that you can eat yogurt from the store!. And in case you need, you can dig with it.
-Led headlamp. In case it get dark while hiking, and also, to use it at nights in the shelters (be sure it have new batteries). Led, because it last more!.
-Raincoat. Big enough to cover you and your back pack. Or you can take a small umbrella if your backpack already have a cover… Yes, it works!.
-Underwear and cotton clothes. If you wash your underwear every night or each two nights, you just need three items!. As a woman, I just packed one sport top, I let my boobs be free some days and all nights (they were glad). Three pairs of hiking socks, one cotton legging and a tank top, to feel warm while sleeping (they work also as thermal clothing!).
-Hygienic and cosmetic stuff. Soap and shampoo. Tooth paste, brush teeth. Lip balm, sunscreen. Body-cream. Little comb. Menstrual cup. Wet towels and paper towel. Antibacterial gel. Important: NO make-up, NO thousands of sanitary pads.
-Swimsuit. Years back, a good teacher told me to take my swimsuit in every travel, no matter if it’s winter. He was so right and now, I am packing it every time. Of course I had the opportunity to use it in the camino. It was the coast route and I love swimming!.
-Zipper storage bags. To protect my clothes from rain and chinches (little bugs); also, to keep my things neat. Remember: packing and unpacking everyday, with plastic bags, it is too much easier.
I have read that the most we can carry in our backpack is 10% of our weight, so if I weight 60kg, I can only carry 6!
Normally, people on The Way carry not less than 7kg. I started with crazy 12 kilograms and later 10… Of course, that was because I wanted to film and record soundscapes. Camera + audio recorder + chargers + GPS and stuff, were like 3kg! (but it was worth it). Plus, food and water, at least 2kg… Better to consider that next time.