Your Stories, Your Camino – Reg & Sue Spittle

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Sue Spittle after she read my post asking for other people’s experiences on the Camino de Santiago. Both Sue and her husband Reg, decided to walk the Camino Frances from Pamplona in 2013. It was their first long distance walk and their first time with backpacks. It seems they really gained from their time on the Camino as they both are “living life with less baggage”! More details about Sue & Reg’s Camino can be found on www.carryoncouple.com/caminodesantigo.

So what was Sue’s impression of her Camino?…..

“We should do it!” That was my reaction in August of 2012 as the credits rolled signaling the end of the Emilio Estevez/Martin Sheen movie, The Way. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I really meant it.

My husband thought I was nuts. We had no backpacking experience, with the exception of an overnighter with friends some 30 years earlier. How could we walk 500 miles? How could we carry everything we needed in a backpack? Where would we stay? What would we eat? What about our privacy? All valid concerns to which I responded, “What if we can do it? Besides, (we were recently retired) what else will we do with all our time?”

Fast forward to an April morning in 2013. Equipped with brand spanking new packs, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, assorted clothing and an abundance of other non-essential personal items, we took our first steps along the Camino, leading us out of Pamplona, Spain and into an entirely new way of life!

● Our training consisted of a variety of day hikes, with and without packs, only 100 miles in all. Trekking poles are a must!
● Albergues, with their dorm-style rooms, were intimidating at first, but we met wonderful people of all ages and nationalities. Do stay in some!
● Some Pilgrim meals were better than others, but all were affordable and often shared
around a communal table. Don’t miss out on this!
● Walk your own Camino. Find a pace and daily mileage count that suits your abilities.
For us it was 12 miles/day. It is not a race!
● Nor is it easy! Sore muscles, tired feet, blisters, sun, rain, snow, snoring, top bunks,
co-ed bathrooms…be prepared!
● The Camino has much to teach all who travel The Way. Appreciate each day for what it
is.

While reaching Santiago was our original goal, we weren’t far from Pamplona when we realized that the adventure would be about so much more. We both experienced a variety of emotions upon arriving in Santiago. Exhilaration, relief, sadness, gratitude…I would encourage you to find your “Way”. It just might change your life!

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Reg & Sue after reaching the top of O Cebreiro

Another fix for Blisters?

There are many different ways to avoid blisters..from wearing the right socks and keeping your feet dry. However, a recent study has found a very cheap and easy fix for a pilgrim’s worst nightmare. Whether, you choose to try it out, I’ll leave it up to you 🙂

http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/fitness/a-cheap-and-easy-fix-is-found-for-one-of-sports-great-aches-blisters-34623137.html

The Camino de Santiago & Medication

I keep meaning to write about this particular topic but somehow feel that it might not be relevant for the Camino de Santiago. However, we live in a day and age where a good proportion of people are taking medication for one or another condition. For me, it matters, as I take prescription medication on a daily basis and I don’t think I would be about to operate without them. Since my first Camino in 2011, I have been packing my medication while, at the same time, trying to save space in my backpack. The blister packs are large and I’m glad I haven’t walked the full Camino as I’m not sure that carrying a full month’s supply would be possible!!

So there are number of pieces of advice I can give if you do take medication on a daily basis and are planning to travel:

  • Carry a copy of your doctor’s prescription with you in case you either need more or are stopped at customs. Just in case.
  • Make sure that prescription medications are in their original containers with the prescribing pharmacists label on it. Once you are on the Camino, you can dispose of the boxes safely and put the tablet strips (or whatever) in resealable bags. Ziplock bags are perfect.
  • It would be no harm to tell your doctor that you will be spending a month in Spain in a hot climate.
  • Carry enough for the period of your trip with an extra day or so in case of delays.
  • Put them in a checked in bag, rather than in carry on bags.
  • For sharp objects such as diabetes medications, I would get a letter from your doctor to advise these are life saving medications.
  • Another way to save space would be popping your tablets from the blister packs and put them in a small plastic bottle with a screw cap. Then take the sticker off from the original packet and stick it on my plastic bottle. Unfortunately, my meds are big and bulky that this option is a no-go for me.
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A pharmacy sign based in the Basque region of Spain

Spanish pharmacies (farmacia) are one of the many places that pilgrims frequent and the assistants there are very helpful. They are impossible to miss in towns with their flashing green crosses, displaying the time.

I hope the above helps you in any way, but if you have any tips to help others who carry meds and are looking to save space, please post them in the comments.

 

Some great advice from YouTube…

There are literally hundreds of videos on YouTube about the Camino de Santiago, from the very well made to the hastily put together. Each and everyone of them tells their own story. I think YouTube is a great source for information for those reading up on the Camino, as well as blogs and forums. So I would encourage any future pilgrim with a few hours to spare to spend time there.

That being said, I would recommend the below set of videos. Andrew Suzuki has recently walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Finistere and he has put together a very slick set of clips with some great advice. He has described this series as a “users guide to the Camino de Santiago”. I think he has managed to fit everything in, including the blisters 🙂 There are also some great pieces of advice from people he walked with. The series is also an extension to his own documentary “Beyond The Way” and if you are Facebook-inclined, you can find out more about here.

An interesting way to take in Spanish

I’ve been looking for ways how to improve on my Spanish language. It’s nearly a year since I started taking the language seriously and going to classes. There are may tips and tricks on how to improve including this and this.

However, this guy has taken learning a language to a new level. He moved to Germany for a year without a word of German and came home fluent. Have a look at this short clip.

More information can be found at fourththing.wordpress.com/the-lernen-to-talk-show

I’d love to do the same to aid my Spanish.