Here’s the thing: how does one write about, how does one explain the Camino? It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, yet at the same time, nothing has really happened.
I get up — grouchily, and, yes, still, reluctantly.
I arrange my backpack.
For someone carrying so few things, arranging my backpack takes a startingly long time. But now, 16 days in, I have a system. The never-worn, too-bulky fleece gets rolled up and cinched with a velcro stap, put in a plastic bag, and shoved in the bottom right quadrant.
The sleeping bag, in its stuff-sack and plastic bag, bottom left. All my clothes plus the towel goes in the orange waterproof sack. This includes all my dirty clothes, for which next time (next time!) I hope to bring a little mesh bag to (as The Offspring say– sing here!) keep ’em separated. So the orange bag, heavy, goes on the left above the sleeping bag. Flip flops in orange ditty bag, between fleece and sleeping bag. (Isn’t this fascinating?) Electronics, meds & toiletries in the green waterproof sack, over fleece. Rain jacket, also heavy, on top.
Oh, at some point, I put my purse with heavy wallets and the superfluous book for some reason I won’t leave behind gets wedged in there, either against the back or somewhere between the fleece & waterproof sack layer. It’s also wrapped in plastic.
I laugh as I type this from my worn paper, handwritten journal, because here is where I wrote, “This is fascinating, isn’t it,” just as I inserted in my train-of-thought commentary above.
BUT if you’re walking, it IS fascinating, because it is a vitally important part of the day, now with three weeks of engineering behind it.
So the top gets fruit, sardines, bread, notebook, pen, pilgrim credencial. Side pockets: Camera, gum. Shorts pockets: $$. My emergency pouch of meds, earplugs, hair ties & medals — the St. Christopher, and the St. Mary/Earth Mother, as I call her. The ipod, then the headphones around my neck — be sure to get the kind with a band, the earbuds are useless when you’re jogging around, IMHO.
So I slather on SPF 70 — despite which I am hella tan. “Morenita”, they say, “morena linda”, meaning, “Pretty little brown girl”, and, while possibly offensive and grossly un-PC in the USA, I like it here. It somehow sounds nice in Spanish, and it’s meant as a compliment.
The SPF goes in an easy-access pocket, as does the guidebook, curled into a side pocket. I arrange my water bottles however I can — one shoved in a pocket, one hanging and swinging by a clip, on the left side.
Hat? On or off? No matter which I choose, I’ll want it soon enough, and I wish someone had video footage of me trying desperately to unvelcro it from the back of my pack without actually taking the pack off. Even I have to stop and laugh at myself after stamping my feet in frustration, nearly wrenching my arms out of their sockets in my flailing, failed attempts.
Poles, in or out? If walking on tarmac (read: road), then In — the clanking of tip on tarmac becomes intolerable after a few thousand clanks. Any other surface, keep them out: you never know when you’ll encounter a hill, some nippy dogs, or, as the old ladies warn a jabali, a wild boar…!