As September quickly approaches, I have quickly begun to realise just how unprepared I am for everything – mainly, my trip to Europe and pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
I still need to buy my flight tickets, travel insurance, prepare a packing list, and do some more training walks (now that the sun has emerged from winter hibernation and spring has started to bloom, the walks will at least be pleasant). Typical me, leaving things until the last minute – though it’s only May, so I still have some time!
Thinking about the Camino however, has made me a little extremely anxious lately. As I think about it more and more, I’m not too sure that I’m particularly looking forward to it. There are certain aspects that I am anxious about and I devised a list of those things:
- Sleeping Arrangements
I have slept in hostel dorms before but what scares me about the Camino is that the dorm rooms can be much bigger, sometimes having up to 50-100 people to a room. I am a relatively light sleeper so I won’t really appreciate a lullaby composed of snores. I also don’t look forward to having people get up at crazy hours of the morning, shining lights and making noise rummaging around their packs. I like to sleep in and plan to invest in a firm pair of earplugs and an eye mask, but I’ve heard rumours that the albergues (hostels) will kick pilgrims out in the morning (for some reason I’ve got it in my head that it is as early as 8-9 am). No more sleep-ins for me!
- Cold Water
Wherever there is a whole bunch of lads and lasses walking the whole day and accumulating sweat, there is a whole bunch of people that need showers. I don’t anticipate that I will be in the fast lane during the Camino, but in contrast I anticipate that once I get to the albergue at the end of the day… I will be having a cold shower. Considering that I am a person who usually likes to have scorching hot showers, I am not going to be fond of the shower situation.
Another thing I’ve heard is that a lot of the albergues don’t have adequate laundry facilities, and if they do – they only have one or two washing machines and one or two dryers. People generally end up washing their smelly sweaty clothes either with them while they shower or in the bathroom sink. I’m sure I’ll get used to this routine, but for someone who is already exhausted from walking the whole day, it just seems like extra work.
Bugs! I hate bugs! Unfortunately, there are horror stories of bed bug outbreaks and people waking up the next day covered from head to toe in bites. I think the various mosquitos and bugs on the trail (I’m actually not too sure how prominent these are) will be more than enough. I will make sure to bring plenty of bug spray with me on the Camino, but I’m scared of the mutated bug-spray-resistant-bugs.
Spending all that time walking, all day, every day, is surely going to cause a whole set of problems. Such problems include huge blisters on the feet, sunburn (this is possibly my biggest fear; I’m so terrified of getting sunburnt that I wear sunblock religiously, even every day in winter), and back pain due to not being able to cut back my gear enough resulting in a heavy pack.
I know that I have a lot of preparation to do before I begin my Camino, including mental preparation. I am certain however, that despite any amount of anxiety and problems that I encounter, everything will be okay in the end. The Camino may test my limits, but I’m told that ultimately – the Camino will provide.