“Life on the road” – some lessons learned
Foot care is paramount. Everyone has a different regime they swear by. Ours was the application of E45 cream to our feet at least once a day after showering, for the 2 week lead up and then twice a day on the route. Plus Merino wool socks, changed every 2 hours, or thereabouts. (Fingers crossed, not a blister between us so far).
Leave your make up/cosmetics at home. You will very soon give up caring about your appearance, anyway. You will really only care about being clean. Most likely fantasising about a shower and change of clothes will be all the incentive needed to keep going!
Once you have crossed the sock and sandal style Rubicon not only will you understand that socks are vital to reduce friction & keep out pesky sand/gravel, but you will feel truly liberated (see above about giving up on your appearance)!
The local launderette is now one of your go to favourite hang out places. You will learn to love the pre powdered machines, marvel at the sheer cleanliness and efficiency of some of Portugal and Spain’s finest spaces. Oh and the anticipation of clean clothes is also a wonderful, uplifting thing. We found the finest example in Muxia with kids play area, entertainment zone, phone rechargers – all it needed was a beer vending machine….
Of course, in emergency situations you can wash your socks/smalls in the sink at the pension (buy clothes made of technical sports fabric for quick drying). Your rucksack becomes a handy portable drying system for socks and other items should you require. Some people use pegs, we just hung socks through the bungee bits.
If you can, choose a walking partner who is strong enough to manage your pack as well as theirs (for a bit, anyway!) if disaster strikes. (I realise this is a real luxury and not open to everyone…).
If you do need to offload your bags you can use the Spanish Correos (postal system). We didn’t use this option as we didn’t need to, but also our hours were at odds with the post office opening times (it might involve you hanging around waiting for the post office to open – we’re not good at hanging around…)
Little donativo stalls such as a blueberry stall can really perk you up when you need a lift. (Our favourite was the elderly farming lady with her tractor and beer stall on the Portuguese Central). So make sure you carry some cash with you. I guess it’s about right to leave a euro or more in most circumstances.
The toast in Galicia is massive (in fact all of the portions in Galicia are massive), but eat it – you don’t know if the bar you are expecting to find (open), will be, or not. In fact anytime you see a bar and feel remotely hungry, thirsty or in need of the bathroom I would advise eating/drinking/toileting – planning ahead can be nigh on impossible (unless you phone places in advance, I guess). Good news! A complimentary “tapa” accompanied each drink you buy in Galicia (and that includes coffee too!).
Challenging yourself is a major part of doing a Camino, but know when to draw the line. Listen to your body, risk assess dynamically, follow your instincts. Always have a plan B (and C). Don’t be hard on yourself; you made it this far – give yourself credit and remember you can always go again .
Don’t forget to look up, smell the flowers, greet the locals, stroke a friendly dog, linger a little longer. These are the tiny interactions that all add up to the massive memory board you will carry along with you forever.
Oh and one more thing, prepare to become a little bit addicted to the simplicity of “life on the road”. Having very little to worry about other than putting one foot in front of the other and making it to your resting place is like giving your mind a massive holiday. Returning to the “real” world, you may hit the ground with a bump and experience a serious case of post camino blues.
Our only advice in this scenario is to start planning your next adventure(s)….