It’s time to get real. Yup, no more stuffing everything and the kitchen sink in the pack. The edit and swap out has begun.
My walks every day to Melide -16,000 steps – and back are helping with the decision making. And today I got my first blister. I was thrilled! Jeff just shook his head when I limped through the gate celebrating it.
‘You’re the only person I know who is happy about a blister.’
But I am happy. That’s just what these walks are for. I wore my Keens today. Apparently, after about 12,000 steps they give me a blister when worn without socks. So I have a decision to make. Bring them – I’ll need something to wear in the shower – or leave them and pack flip flops? They aren’t light weight, but on a warm day they might be better than my boots.
And I learned that what I thought I was bringing for tops are out. A couple of old worn cotton long sleeved shirts are going to make the cut. They’ll dry quickly too. The traditional hiking tops are no more.
Now I need to land on the three bottoms I’m allowing myself. The hiking skirt is a must have. But do I go with two pairs of yoga pants – one knee length, the other full? Or do I swap one out for a pair of all weather pants? I’m struggling because it will likely be warm in September. But by October I arrive in Leon. And the mountains of Cruz de Ferro and O Cebreiro are not far beyond. It will start becoming rainy and colder. Especially if I have to sleep outside in my tent. Hmmm 🤔
I am loving these walks each day. Surely, the women who run this cafe in Furelos – the village I like to call Lower Melide, because its before the last big hill into town – wonder why I never make any progress on my Camino. I have all the gear, but they see me every day, like Groundhog Day ordering agua and an Aquarius water for €2.80 – then they watch me walk back the way I came, only to see me the next day when they open at noon. If I have a nickname it’s probably The Perpetual Pilgrim.
Today, I received a lot of strange looks going against the tide. Three ladies stopped me.
‘Are all the beds taken in Melide?!’ One of them asked frantically. Why else would I be going the opposite direction of the masses?
Others stopped to hear the answer. Shushing each other. I felt a little like Forrest Gump.
‘No.’ I told her. ‘Well, actually, I have no idea. I’m tired and just walking home.’ Then I went on my way. Looking back, the group stood, perplexed, staring after me.
On the trail again, a pelaton passed me. Everyone smiling. Some waved. One of the cyclists pointed back the direction I had just come from.
‘Hey. Santiago is that way!’
It made me laugh.
Every day it gets easier. And every day I relearn things I had forgotten. Like how to walk. That sounds silly but it’s a thing. How to pace myself. Not to tie my pace to another walker. When to stop for a rest or fluid. And how to hear my own heart beat.
I’m also learning to spend hours alone, again. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do that. Jeff and I have spent nearly every day of the past 18 months together. Doing our own thing used to be a regular occurrence. I’m starting to remember what that is like. Seeing something and not having him to turn to immediately and say ‘Look at that.’ Just experiencing it alone. And having that be enough.
And not speaking. I walk alone most days. Yes, there are others around me, but I am generating no sound. Not hearing your own voice means you go inward. It’s amazing how you start to tune out the conversations around you. And how your inner voice becomes much louder.
This is what I remember from before. Those hours of almost meditation. Just the cadence of the poles hitting the ground and losing myself in the rhythm. When miles and hours go by with little effort. Giving the brain a rest.
I’ll figure out the packing thing. These days of walking are helping with that. But even more, it’s been like waking up from a fog. A part of me had a moment today when I thought ‘Oh yeah. I remember you. I liked spending time with you.’ It made me smile. I get to go on this walk with someone I had forgotten I enjoy. Exclusively, in my own company.