One year ago yesterday, I walked into Santiago de Compostela. When I think back to that day, I remember lots of hugs and joy. It was one of those days that I will never forget.
I also will never forget what I did one year ago today. I got myself out of bed and walked out of Santiago. I had arrived, then it was time to move on. I wanted to go to Finnisterre. There's always someplace else to go.
Lately, most of my long distance walking has been in books. First, I finally sat my lazy ass down with Bill Bryson's A Walk In the Woods about his walk on the Appalachian Trail. Let me reassure everyone who said You will like Bill Bryson, Jen that yes, I like Bill Bryson.
Then, I took Oprah's advice and read Cheryl Strayed's Wild about her walk on the Pacific Crest Trail. After reading this book, I have no desire to walk the PCT. Still, it was a nice glimpse back at nineties or that time before cell phones.
Finally, after reading a slightly snarky review (have you ever read a review and thought, there's more going on than just a book), I read Simon Armitage's Walking Home about his walk on the Pennine Way in England. Not only did he walk, he also gave poetry readings.
I will say that I enjoyed all three and highly recommend them. They give the reader a great history of the trails and a strong sense of what the landscape and conditions are like. They're also funny. I think you need a sense of humor to do big walks.
I also noticed that those three books and a bunch of others I have read about the Camino and my own Camino book have a lot in common. So I decided to boil it down to some essentials for those of you who don't want to read a lot of books.
If you are planning to walk a long distance:
--You will bring too much stuff. Your pack will be too heavy. You think you will need stuff that you really don't need.
--You will face physical and mental challenges. Your feet will hurt. You will ask yourself why you are walking hundreds and hundreds of miles. You will want to quit. You will quit. You will start again.
--Food will become very important. Silly foods will take on religious significance. For me, it was Café con leche. Glory be.
--You will meet interesting characters and sleep in interesting places (sometimes in close proximity to the interesting characters). Just go with the flow of it all. You'll have great stories to tell. They might even go into a book someday.
Meanwhile, I continue to dream/plan my next long walk which might be a book. And to all my Camino friends, I think of you often and smile.