Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Friday, October 24, 2014

You might be a pilgrim if...

This originally came from someone else's blog posting. It's meant to be amusing, but as in all things funny, there's usually a tiny grain of truth. I've incorporated portions of it in my presentation but here's an edited version of that list. I removed some items and added others, and I've added some commentary.

1. Goodwill will not accept your used hiking boots.

It is simply amazing how beat up shoes get on the Camino. It's great that they still function afterwards, but donating anything that can't be used again isn't ever right.

2. You carry toilet paper, extra-powered Ibuprofen, and Compeed with you at all times.

You just never know when you really need these things. And Compeed is a type of bandage that does a miraculous job on blisters. It truly is profoundly helpful.

3. You wash your socks with shampoo. You wash your laundry with shampoo.  You wash your body with shampoo.

Laundry detergent is just extra weight. Shampoo suffices. And you do your laundry in basins, sinks, and anything that can hold even a pint of water.

4. You have a fantastic tan…but only on your left side.

You are walking to the west for the most part. As such, it's almost impossible to tan  your right side. It's amazing how tan my left arm got compared to my right arm.

5. You fear cyclists.

I've cycled across Europe and California so I don't have a dislike of cyclists. But there's no doubt that out on the senda (trail), cyclists that speed by without warning or a bell frighten the majority of Camino walkers. Don't weave left and right on the trail with

6. You routinely approach reception desks and ask if the hotel is “complete.”

It took me a couple nights to realize that in Spain a hotel isn't full. It's complete.

7. When you sit down to eat, you immediately take off your shoes.

Yeah. It's a thing. The only risk is that your feet are so swollen that you can't get the shoes back on your feet. So the lesson here is to make sure that your shoes fit right and can handle swollen feet, blisters, and twisted ankles.

8. You can say “hello” in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, English, Dutch, Korean, and Aussie.

In truth, most people say "Buen camino", "Hola", and "Ola" (once you get into Galicia). Once you sit down, however, you will meet people from every corner of the earth. I met folks from every inhabitable continent. A few ways to say "hello" can go a long way in making friends or at least finding an empty seat in a busy restaurant.

9. You’ve engaged in hour-long poncho vs. rain suit debates.

I had these discussions even with myself. I started out as a rain suit person. After hours of walking in the rain, I switched to the poncho and have never looked back.

10. You had no idea hot chocolate can be so thick.

I didn't drink coffee or tea like others. Both contain caffeine and let's face it, when there aren't many toilets on the Camino trails, you don't want to drink a diuretic that forces you to make a pit stop.

Hot chocolate was a nice way to warm up and get a sugar shot without eating a pastry. I'm gluten sensitive, so anything that can distract me from the endless supply of delicious, mouth-watering pastries was a sugar-coated blessing.

11. You can pee anywhere, and you don’t really care who sees.

Pee happens. Everyone has to deal with it. Hold it in for a few hours, and you can hurt yourself.

12. You can pack everything you need for a long trip in 10 minutes or less.

It's amazing how quickly you can pack your backpack. In the dark. Wet or dry.

13. Your prized possessions include dry, fluffy, durable socks and dry, fluffy underwear.

The benefits of dry, fluffy socks on your peace of mind and on your foot comfort cannot be stressed. It just feels so good to rip off your sweaty ones and slip on fresh, dry socks. Underwear is a close second in this nirvana.

14. The yellow arrow is your GPS.

You learn to look around you as you approach a fork in the road. There must be an arrow or concha shell or sign somewhere. If you don't see it, you start backtracking until you do find it.

17. Whenever you go to a restaurant, you look for the Menu de Peregrino, and you can’t understand why the wine isn’t included.

Those peregrino menus really are a good value. Three courses (starter, main, and dessert), with bread and wine and water. If you're hungry, you won't be after one of these meals.

18. You can take a shower in 4 minutes…using only shampoo.

The showers are frequently busy and in many cases co-ed. Take a long shower, and you'll have a line of men and women waiting for you and then yelling loudly if all the hot water is gone. Shampoo is just as good as body wash. Just scrub off the dirt and go take a nap.

19. You can dry yourself off completely using a tiny ShamWow towel.

I didn't see one large or thick towel and for good reason: you don't want to carry something so heavy and bulky and which won't dry out before you leave the next morning. Everyone brings small, thin towels. It's amazing how much water these tiny towels can take off of you and still dry out before the morning. Just remember to bring your dry clothes into the shower area with you if it's co-ed or else your tiny towel will be less than adequate to fig leaf you.

20. You’ve whittled your wardrobe down to 2 of everything.

You learn to pack really, really light. Anything can be washed and dried overnight.

21. You know how to say "bandage” and “blister” in Spanish.

"Ampolla" happens. Buy some Compeed and maybe a "venda" if your knees and hands bleed from falls.

22. You know and understand the many varieties of jamón.

There really are a number of dishes made with ham. And they serve them all.

23. You measure distance in kilometers.

I'm still adjusting back to miles. In the car, miles come easily. But when walking around, it just seems so much easier to think in kilometers.

24. You only own clothing that dries really fast.

Heavy clothing would be such a pain on the Camino. Even if it's colder weather, your clothes just cannot dry fast enough after a wash. Much better to get fast drying clothing and layer.

25. You walk into bars and ask for a stamp.

I imagine that the Green Stamps craze in the 60s and 70s was similar. Any time you had a business transaction, you had a chance for a stamp. In this case, the stamp shows up on your credentials, and boy some of them looked pretty.

26. You know to avoid the ensaladilla rusa.

Seriously, there was tuna in every salad. But the first (and last) time I ordered the ensaladilla rusa, I expected an interesting salad with some Russian dressing. But it's not a lettuce-based salad. Oh it's still an appetizer and not served as a side dish. But instead of seeing any green, you'll see white. That's because it's a potato salad. And yes, there's tuna in it. It's a potato salad... with tuna.

27. You don’t care much about “things,” but if anything happened to your framed compostela, you’d freak out.

This is when everyone gets spiritual on the Camino. People become much more important than things with each passing step. And then you earn your compostela (diploma) that shows you completed the Camino de Santiago. And all that spirituality and non-materialism gets chucked out the ventana. You become Gollum protecting your "precious".

28. You’ve had the best conversations of your life with people who walked beside you for a less than an hour.

It's amazing how quickly you bond with people on the Camino. And not just with one person, but with many. I would never have believed it but it just kept happening.

29. You love pulpo, but only a la gallega.

Octopus when cooking in the pot is as horrific to the eye as it is to the imagination. But don't let that stop you. Gallician octopus (pulpo a la gallega) was my tastiest surprise on the Camino. I recommend it to all in a heartbeat.

30. You feel like a winner when you find a free electrical outlet at bedtime.

In actuality, there are electric outlets in many places around the albergues (dormitories). And in the modern facilities, they have outlets by each bed. You can recharge your phone and flashlight (and please I hope you don't bring any thing more electric items than those two) fairly easily. But often times, more than any anxiety about finding a bed, finding an electric outlet ranks way way up there.

31. You tell yourself you will never eat another tortilla española as long as you live

It's a Spanish omelette - basically scrambled egg in a thin pie shape and stuffed to the teeth with potato. I will live a long happy life if I never see this on my plate again.

32. When you check into a hotel, you ask if there is “weefee.”

As a business traveler, I've come to expect my hotels to have wifi. But in inexpensive albergues, you can't expect "weefee" to be extensive or even in the lobby. It's most places now, but there are notable exceptions. There isn't a single facility in Foncebadon (the tiny hamlet nearest to the Cruz de Ferro) that has weefee.

33. You want to hug John Brierley. You want to punch John Brierley.

Brierley wrote the definite English language book so it's the best resource to guide you. It tells you distances, altitude changes, terrain maps, accommodation lists, dining options, and spiritual quotes. It ought to be your best friend.

But your best friend sometimes lies to you, especially when it comes to distances and terrain. "Gently slopes" can mean either gradual ascents or alpine ravines. So, yes, it's a love-hate relationship. Buy his book and then yell at it when your feet hurt too much.

34. The love you feel for your hiking boots is not natural.

It's not. Couple that with the way you fondle your dry, fluffy socks and you can see that anything that protects your feet will be an affection that's just this side of kinky.

35. You are astonished when restaurants open for dinner at 5pm.

Siesta starts around 3 or 4pm. The world stops. Be sure to grab your food, pharmaceuticals, and supplies before then or suffer for 3 hours until commerce resumes. Even if you're in a city, good luck trying to find an open restaurant or bar. It's cultural, it's charming, and it's the perfect time to nap after a long walk.

36. You know the difference between tapas and pintxos.

Tapas are larger and in the central and southern parts of Spain. Pintxos (pronounced pinchos) are in the north/north-eastern areas. Pinchos tend to be smaller because they sit on small pieces of bread.

37. You’re never too hungover to walk.

I never drank more than two glasses of wine while on the Camino because I was too dehydrated to enjoy the wine in normal quantities. Even the most mundane wine, though, was quite tasty. So it's no wonder that many drink more wine than they should. And even when I drank two glasses on an empty stomach in a state of dehydration, nothing stops you from walking the next day.

38. You keep turning up the “C” knob in your home shower, but the water does not seem to be getting any more caliente.

"C"aliente isn't the same thing as "C"old. After weeks on the Camino, you tend to forget this.

39. You keep meeting the same people over and over without saying more than "Buen Camino" but you're thrilled to see them make it to Santiago de Compostella.

Even more surprising, you may not have said much if anything to them. But when you say goodbye one last time in Santiago de Compostella, it's like a someone tearing a bone out of your spine. The upshot is that the Camino is oddly powerful in creating bonds.

40. You wave your hands around in dark bathrooms and wait for the lights to come on.

It's not pretty when you have to open your stall door, leaning out, waving your arms, hoping nobody enters the dark bathroom just then.

41.  You’ve been to the “end of the world.”

Finesterre translates to "End of World". After you visit Santiago de Compostella, many continue to the Atlantic to see what the Romans thought was the westernmost end of Europe. Today's tradition is to burn or leave behind things like boots, clothing, or items that have weighed you down on your journey.

42. You know that anywhere is within walking distance, as long as you have the time.

The Camino changes your perception. You can walk anywhere. Any hike is feasible. It's empowering, exhilarating, and sobering.

Are you a former peregrino? If you have any suggestions for this list, please add them in the comments!

Buen camino

No comments :

Post a Comment