I never though I would be doing the Camino.
I hate walking. I like to sleep long hours in the morning. I hate noisy bedrooms and crowded places.
Strangely, all those aversions suddenly fell away, as I started to prepare for the 800 km long Camino to Santiago de Compostela via Camino Frances.
I could say that I experienced the call of the Camino. I guess you yourself could be in the same situation as I was.
You are not sure if the call is real or perhaps it is all in your imagination?
I am writing this post to tell you that it is OK and that you need to trust that call. You need to answer it.
You need to go and walk your Camino.
Preparing for the Camino
You can prepare only so much for a pilgrimage of this type but bare minimum is all that you really need to do.
You don’t really need to plan the whole trip and the truth is you kinda can’t, because Camino will lead you all the way towards places where you need to be.
At best you can choose your starting point time and place and the approx. date you plan to reach Santiago de Compostela.
I started in Saint Jean Pied de Port. It is there where I got my pilgrim’s credential.
It took me around 40 days to complete the journey. I walked in between 20-25 km per day. I took two one-day rests. One in Burgos and another when I entered Galicia.
Don’t worry too much about my own details of the walk because your journey will be your own.
You will talk with people with whom you need to talk. You will feel the things buried deep inside of you from a long long time. You will be given an opportunity to release and let go.
Camino will be a wonderful support for dealing with your stuff. But only if you are willing to do that.
List of equipment I recommend
This depends a lot on the time of the year that you choose for you. I went late June to early August, so I was packing light.
in the backpack: sleeping bag, 1x trekking shirt long sleeves, 1x trekking shirt short sleeves, 1x trekking long trousers, 1x trekking underwear, 1x trekking socks, torch, first-aid selection (band-aids, muscle gels, pain killers..), mosquito repellent, small bottle of liquid soap, best earplugs in the world I could get my hands on, sun block cream, 0.75-1L bottle of water, Scrubba wash bag
on you: trekking long trousers, trekking shirt, sun hat, sun glasses, wet toilet paper, swiss army knife, pair of walking sticks
It is strange to accept at first but you really don’t need that much things with you. As you will be carrying them on your back, make sure in total you don’t go over 8 kg. That includes water 😉
And yes, it can be done. You really don’t need as much stuff as you think.
There are plenty of hostels or albuerges along the route Camino Frances. They are mostly inexpensive, ranging from 4€ – 15€ depending on the type, location and overall facilities.
Most of them have free wi-fi. Washing and drying machines usually cost 2€-4€ for 45 min wash and 2€-4€ for 30-45 min drying.
In the summer months you can let your washed clothes dry outside, but prepare yourself for rush hours. There will be a lot of pilgrims waiting to use those facilities, probably around the same time as you.
What to expect on the Camino
Pain. Lot’s of it. After all it is a pilgrimage. It will not be like it is presented in the movie “The Way”.
Above all it takes a lot of effort to keep walking. You have to defeat your mind every day. But if you decide to you can do it.
Take comfort that pleasure comes later on. Or before reaching the end. It all depends on you and your situation really.
Each of us is different and each of us will have a different experience of the Camino. Just relax and trust yourself.
The way I see it the Camino is divided into three phases.
Phase 1 – physical breakdown
This is where the fun starts. Your body will resist walking. Or standing for that matter.
You will have sore muscles. You will have blisters. You will experience pain.
But it will pass with time. It took me around 20 days to get used to blisters which were all over my feet. You could have a tougher or easier time with this, it depends. And it doesn’t really matter. It is a very special and intensive journey so be prepared for this to happen.
Phase 2 – mental breakdown
This comes after the physical breakdown. You will start to think that you made a mistake by coming here. You will begin to notice the negative inside voice more and more.
This is your opportunity to prove that you are stronger than your negative thinking.
You just need to push trough this with gentle determination as it is just your mind messing with you.
Phase 3 – emotional breakdown
This phase starts around Cruz de Fero.
It is the culmination of your journey. It is an opportunity to leave what has been bothering you behind and start fresh.
You will have the opportunity to heal and to release something that has been bothering you for a long time.
But it is up to you if you decide to take this opportunity.
Camino never forces anything, just provides space or arena where you can confront your shadows…
Like everywhere in the world, you will encounter some truly magical people.
You will also encounter people who have a bit more shady personality. Don’t get too hung up on it.
Whatever happens is the right thing for you to happen.
It presents you with a lessons from which you can learn or discover something about yourself that was previously hidden out of your conscious sight.
The Secret to completing the Camino
I will let you on a secret that if utilized properly will get you trough everything that happens and that you experience on your journey or pilgrimage.
The secret is this: Just keep walking one step at a time.
That is really the only advice you will need.
Other than that it helps if you feel the call to do the Camino because you will need to have a strong reason for completing it, instead of simply doing it for the sake of physical exercise.
Camino if above all a path for healing.
Arriving to Santiago de Compostela is not that big of a deal. It is a seaming end of a life journey that in reality is just only beginning.
There you will receive your Compostela which is a certificate of your journey taking into account you have walked at least last 100 km before reaching Santiago.
Compostela has a meaning you associate to it. It can mean the world to you or it can mean nothing. Each of us is different. For me, it means a lot.
It is also a place where if you visit mass at Friday you will experience Botafumeiro in all it’s glory.
This is a YouTube video from my last day as a little preview of what to expect 😉
I cannot stress enough the importance of answering the Camino call once and when you hear or feel it.
Don’t be afraid and don’t resist. It will be a life changing experience, one that you will remember and feel long after the actual experience passes.
What are you really waiting for?
P.S. After a while you will start to forget all the misery and pain you experienced on the way and experience only a very special warm feeling when you think about the Camino.
This feeling will make you want to do it again in some future date on some different (or even the same) route.
As always, you should trust your heart on this 😉