Camino Week 1 -> The Week That Wasn’t
What is they say about the best-laid plans? About as good as a house made of sand, right?
Or something like that anyway.
This first week certainly played out like that. The Camino decided to test me, and in a way that I hadn’t expected at all.
Perhaps it was the exact lesson I needed to learn or just luck of the draw, but needless to say week 1 of my pilgrimage did not go as planned.
Not at all LOL.
Note/ I apologize in advance for all typos and weird-looking formats. I did this entire post on my iPhone which is a bit of a mini-miracle in itself. I will now go un-cramp my fingers and see if I can get my normal vision back.
Departure Day -2
I’m at the house and my pack is finally complete.
It’s been a long adventure for such a simple task, and today it was all about the itsy bitsy little remaining details. Do I really need to bring EarPods? No. Do I go with the 2m or 3m charging cable? 2m. Can I manage without a headlamp? Yes. Etc.
It all seems trivial but each item is an extra 100g here, 200g there and when you add it all up you’ve easily sliced (or added) another half kilo or more to your back….that you will have to carry for 800km.
Yes, read that again Nina…800 long, hard, looong km.
So I fret and think, pack and repack. In the end I manage to cut quite a bit off my weight, but little things like toothpaste and such add back on. My final weigh is 6.9kg with absolutely everything. Not exactly what I’d hoped, but I’m pretty pleased nonetheless.
So what did I pack?
|| Electronics + Evening
Everything is packed into 4 ultra-sil stuff sacks plus an ultra-sil toiletry bag.
In addition there’s my base wearing outfit (1 T-shirt, 1 pair zip-off hiking pants, 1 underwear, 1 bra) plus my hiking poles, knee braces and my “money belt” which is a thin pack that wraps around my waist and contains my passport, pilgrims passport, credit cards and money. The latter will always be on me or with me.
That’s the brunt of it, with a few small extra bits and smidgens.
My biggest 2 luxuries in this pack are undoubtedly my body-sized towel and my trekking umbrella, and they definitely do add some unnecessary weight.
I’ll let you know in around 6 weeks time if they were worth it.
Departure Day -1
Sunday morning we say our goodbyes to dad and leave in LMB to do the 3 hour drive to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (or SJPDP, as pilgrims tend to call it).
The drive is easy and everything goes pretty much to plan. It’s a gorgeous day and I soak it all in, knowing it’ll likely be my last in a while.
The weather forecast has gone from good to pretty grim, with at least 3 solid days of rain ahead and even…possibly…snow over the high pass in the mountains. Still I’m happy, even giddy with excitement. I’m so pumped that nothing can stop me now, not even a mountain storm. I just need to get out there.
My feeling of euphoria holds steady right up until I get a text from a friend I saw Friday night.
“I’m really sorry” she starts “I just tested positive for COVID”
My stomach drops and all my good feels dissolve in an instant. Worry takes over.
Funnily enough I had planned for this moment, or rather expected it to happen at some point during my Camino. Simple science says there’s a pretty darn high chance of catching COVID if you’re walking, mingling, and sleeping with hundreds of other strangers over a period of 6 weeks during an on-going pandemic. I mean the connection vectors are practically infinite at this point, so odds are you’re just gonna catch it.
And truly, I had made my peace with that thought.
What I hadn’t planned on however, was potentially catching it right now. Nothing in my B,C,D,E or F plan had COVID happening before I even got on the trail. That possibility, strange as it seems, just simply never occurred to me.
What the **** do I do now???
Obviously both Paul and I took a test, and breathed a sigh of relief when it came back negative. Perhaps all was ok? Then a 2nd friend from that night tested positive, and even though I didn’t want to admit it I already knew what I had to do.
Three days post-contact wasn’t enough time to be sure, and I couldn’t in good conscience party and sleep with 50 or so of my new Camino friends without being certain I wasn’t contagious. So although I may still catch COVID at some point during this trip, I knew for darn sure that I couldn’t be the one to bring it.
The answer was simple. I had to delay.
Ooooops: Departure Day -3
Groundhog Day 1. I’ve cancelled all the bookings I so carefully made back in January and we’ve retreated in LMB to a lovely little quiet campground ~40 mins away.
We walk the dog, wander around town in our masks, curse the virus, drink wine and wait.
No symptoms. COVID test negative.
Departure Day -2
Another day in la-la-land.
It’s raining heavily now and for a minute I wonder if this delay was somehow a gift in disguise? But then I check the forecast again and another 3 days of rain just tagged on to the end. Seems the rain is coming for me no matter what.
I suddenly start laughing sometime around lunch as I’m doing a mopey-walk in camp.
I’ve been planning and stressing and holding onto this whole thing so hard that the Camino obviously thought this was the first lesson I needed to learn.
Gotta let go of your need to control, Nina.
I laugh some more, feel myself relaxing and say out loud to no-one in particular “OK, I get it now”.
That afternoon all the bookings I had to cancel miraculously re-make themselves.
No symptoms. COVID test negative.
Departure Day -1
We’re full circle back to where we started several days ago.
LMB is parked once again at the Aire by SJPDP, there’s 3 days of rain forecasted ahead with possible snow in the mountains. I’ve got my Pilgrims Passport* from the Pilgrims Office in town and I’m once again ready to go.
No symptoms. COVID test negative.
Tomorrow morning I’ll do a final test and then, with a bit of luck, I’ll swing that pack on my back and take my first steps on the Camino. I vaguely wonder what lesson number 2 will be, but then realize it’s really no use trying to plan for any of it.
The Camino will figure it all out for me.
*The Pilgrims Passport or Credencial is a small book that identifies you as a pilgrim, allowing you to stay in pilgrims-only accommodations, amongst other things. Inside the booklet are spots for stamps which you can collect to mark your journey along the Camino. Not only are they a nice momento, but the stamps are proof you have completed your Camino and required if you want your Compostela or completion certificate in Santiago de Compostela at the end of it all. The book costs EUR 2.SPONSORED LINK:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
We have friends in their 70s who have done it twice and wrote a book about how to enjoy it. Hum…..
Maybe one day…:)
Sue Malone says
Oh my goodness, Nina, what a dramatic beginning to your journey, and what a lesson. I do hope somehow you don’t have to deal with snow with a lightweight sleeping bag…Geez. Pretty amazing that you wrote and added the photos for this blog post on your IPhone. I will bet you will be extra good at that by the time the journey is completed. Traveling with you in spirit.
Thankfully I’ll be sleeping indoors, but yes…it could get a bit chilly. Paul told me he sometimes had to sleep wearing everything in his pack. I guess I’ll find out soon!
David Michael says
So sorry about the Covid. But your writing about the adventure is fabulous! Thank you share this with us in an upbeat fashion. The question comes to mind, what would we do if we travelled from the States and had this happen?
Thanks for the great share!
It’s a really good question Michael. In fact I’m kinda wondering what I’ll do if I catch it further down the line. Isolate at a hotel perhaps? I will try to ask and find out.
Toni R Frizell says
So sorry about the COVID scare. I admire your flexibility and great attitude. You will have an awesome adventure! We leave Sunday on a transatlantic to Barcelona that begins our 7 month journey around Western Europe. We too are torn between seeing our friends to say goodbye and keeping safe from COVID because a delay now causes a domino effect on our carefully made plans. Hoping for the best and refusing to let fear of COVID hold me hostage.
I wish you all the best on your trip! It sound fantastic! And yes you’re right…we do what we can, but we can’t let COVID hold us hostage. Happy travels to you!
I was just reading your post aloud to my husband as we drive along Hwy 395 heading to Bishop for the night.
Praying for you that the rain will NOT tag along with you on your journey. You have such a great attitude. You are teaching all of us good lessons. Stay safe out there. You can do this!
Ahhhh Hwy 395. You just gave me a rush of good memories. Thank for that. And happy travels to you!
If I know you, Nina, there will be heaps of excellent instructional posts forthcoming. I REALLY hope one of those posts is “How to compose a WordPress blog post on an iphone!” I’d buy tickets to that!
Following virtually in your footsteps…even while at rest.
Through cramped fingers and much cursing lol. Have to admit iPhone posts are not the easiest. When I get back I‘lol try and write about it.
Lessons, lessons, lessons! We think we know it all then come the lessons! Great to hear from you, we’re walking along with you, but we don’t weight much…..
So happy to have you along, weight-wise too :))
So good to hear from you Nina! I kept checking to see if you posted something and started to get a little worried but I never thought of Covid! And you never know with the weather, a clear window might appear at any time. This is not any run of the mill ordinary hike, it’s the Camino, where miracles do happen!
And here is the guilty Covid friend… wishing you a safe trip with not too many lessons to be learned on the way! Will follow your progress and look forward to all the stories on your return. Covid is the elephant we all have to live with but goodness me, I could have wept when I had to send that message. Bon voyage ma chère…
Don’t consider weeping for a minute. It’s the darn virus’ fault, never yours. It ended up being a good lesson for me in the end, so in way you helped me start my Camino exactly the way I needed.
Jody Stewart says
Best of luck on this voyage, I hope it is all you want it to be.
Thank you for sharing you thoughts with us. It is a pleasure reading all you write. I really appreciate your humor and knowledge!
Wow Nina. Everytime something challenging comes a long in our lives my hubby always said later, “it was a good experience.” It use to drive me crazy when he said that. Many years later I accept it. I get it. But it wasn’t easy getting there. I have invisible pom poms cheering you on.
So no new posts for a while. I hope you are on your journey. And if all falls through, I know Cape Blanco is looking for a Lighthouse Guide host for a couple of months!
I am so behind in my blogging! I’ve been working on a second post for days, but I can’t seem to get much done after a long day of walking. I’m doing well and will probably try and post at least a short update soon (I know many readers are waiting!).