Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Hello again, my dear friends! Last time I posted to my blog was when Brian and I were hiking a section of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. I’m so happy to say that we’re back at it! In October 2019, I will be spending some time in Europe hiking the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. This trip is already proving to be very different from my first. For starters, I’m more experienced as a foreign traveler and while I’ve never been to Portugal, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect of the Camino. Contrary to the Camino Fances which was about 500 miles in total and consisted of mountains, cities, and small towns, the Portugese Camino is only about 150 miles, it’s not as steep, and the first part of it runs right along the beautiful coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.
Another thing that makes this trip different is that I didn’t begin planning for it until two weeks beforehand. I suppose I’ve developed some mild cockiness surrounding long distance hiking but I suspect that will come to an abrupt halt about five miles into my first day when I remember how difficult it is to break your body into hiking mode. In the meantime, I’ve been pretty casual about this whole thing.
This trip will also be different because Brian will be joining me for the entire thing. My French Camino was an overwhelming, spiritual, and life changing adventure, but I suspect this Camino will resemble something more of a standard vacation because it won’t be as unfamiliar this time and I’ll be spending it with my husband rather than exploring on my own which is the only true way to find yourself (I highly recommend this, by the way!)
I also think this trip will be different because I may not spend as much time journaling as I did on my previous Camino. And I realize I said the exact same thing last time and then found that journaling every night became a critical part of processing my Camino and it turned into an entire book! But regardless oh how much I journal this time, I absolutely 100% will NOT be writing another book. That too was an amazing journey and I love all the people the whole experience introduced me to but I don’t think I have it in me to do it again. So I hope this blog will be sufficient for my wanderlust buddies out there. I even struggled to decide if I should blog this time around. I actually wrote a second book about the experience of returning from a life changing journey, but honestly, I got so sick of my own thoughts, I put the draft down and haven’t looked at it since. But after some time away, I have the energy to at least blog a bit.
Finally, I think one of the biggest changes in this Camino compared to my first is that I no longer have the stress of feeling like I have to complete the Pilgrimage. In 2015, I was driven to prove to myself that I could hike the entire trail. Now that I’ve done that, I no longer feel the need to prove much of anything to myself. I’m going to Portugal to experience the country with great people and hey, if one day I feel like taking a taxi, then darnit, that’s what I’m going to do. If you followed me on my first Camino, you’ll know that I was vehemently, if not violently opposed to that.
So, anyway, with less than two weeks away, today was the first day I began seriously thinking about my trip. I brushed off my original Camino packing list, made changes to it based on lessons learned from previous hikes and realized I needed to purchase some new gear! Most importantly, I needed to order shoes. I’m a size 3 in adult women’s. You’re probably asking yourself, is that even a size? No, it’s not. With the exception of a few specialty shops, most companies don’t manufacture anything smaller than a size 5. So I have become accustomed to trudging around in shoes two sizes too large, but I completely forgot that most stores don’t even carry size 5s anymore and I need to order a pair!! This made me realize I really need to crack down and get ready!!!
Similar to previous hikes, Brian and I went through our entire guest room closet which is reserved for hiking gear and threw everything we needed on the bed. This is oddly a bonding ritual for us that I’ve missed over the last few years. Slowly, we sifted through the gear, deciding what we should bring and what to return to our storage. After about an hour, what began as a pile of junk, morphed into a set of essentials that’ll keep us alive for the next month.
What makes this trip particularly difficult to pack for is there are actually three distinct parts to it. For the first ten days, I will be staying at a beach house in Peniche, Portugal with my friend Kris. On October 8th, Kris will return home and I’ll take a bus to Porto where I will meet Brian and his Appalachian Trail hiking partner from Australia, Hamish (hereafter referred to as Vegemite, which is his trail name). From there, the three of us will begin hiking the 150 miles north into Spain, and finishing at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Brian and I will then begin the third leg of the trip by taking a train or plane to Paris where we will recuperate for a few days before returning home.
WiFi permitting, I’ll try to post regularly with highlights. Thanks for joining me and Buen Camino!!!