I finally got my scallop shell. Two shells, actually, one for me and one for Tom. I found them in a crafts store then had Tom drill a small hole in each one. Theoretically you aren't supposed to arrive at the Camino with a scallop shell, you're supposed to find one that's been washed up along the beach only after you've walked all the way to the sea, thus earning your shell. But I couldn't wait, I wanted Tom and I to each have one from the start to tie onto our backpacks, because the scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino. Apparently the image is everywhere along the way showing the pilgrims where to walk, identifying the albergues, maybe just cheering them on. I'm guessing the scallop shell is the symbol because of the sea metaphor, but I also read that "the grooves in the shell, which come together at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination." (Kelli Crull). For twelve hundred years pilgrims have been making their way from all points of the world to the single point of Santiago de Compostela. And God willing, three days from now Tom and I will be among them.
Hair needs shampoo. Shampoo needs to be carried. Therefore get rid of hair.
I was afraid if I went to my usual hair salon and asked for a "guy cut" the hair dresser wouldn't believe me and I'd end up with merely a short girl cut. So I walked into Jerry's Barber Shop and asked for my guy cut, and even there I had to kind of insist, but Jerry (who turned out to be a pretty blonde named Jennie, which might have been part of the problem) ultimately delivered. Upon looking in the mirror my first reaction was "AAAAAAGH!" My second reaction was "Aaagh?" My third reaction was, "Eh, doesn't really look any worse than usual."
How is it that the less something weighs, the more it costs?
$139 for a high-tech 6-oz. coat that feels as warm as a furnace.
$45 (thankfully marked down to $25 on the clearance rack, but still...) for a UV-protection shirt so light that it feels like a wisp of nothing.
I hesitated, sighed, and complained to anyone within earshot, stomped out of the store then back in before surrendering and forking over $40 for a pair of quick-drying hiking pants that I can wad up like a handkerchief and toss into my pack. And yet I gladly gave not a second thought to paying more than that for a ticket to see "The Book Of Mormon". I was thrilled to snag a ticket to that show for $45 dollars, I snapped that ticket right up! Go figure. (On the other hand, "The Book Of Mormon" made me laugh for two hours straight. I've had those fancy pants for weeks and so far they haven't even made me crack a smile. )
Yesterday Rory suggested that I take the bigger piece of soap and that as I use it up it will get lighter day by day. That thought seems kind of comforting, doesn't it? Kind of a metaphore for life, too, right? How things that weigh heavy on us can get lighter day by day? I think I'm going to go with the smaller piece of soap anywyay, a quarter of a bar, just one ounce. Then when that ounce of soap is used up I'll swing by a farmacia and buy another bar then cut that bar into four ounces, keep one for myself, one for my mate, and then dispose of the other two ounces, hopefully give them away to a fellow pilgrim who needs some soap, maybe to a mendicant pilgrim. The medicants are pilgriims who walk the Camino with nothing but the clothes on their backs - they carry no money, no backpacks. They live on the charity of fellow pilgrims and are expected to be given free shelter at the albergues. The rest of us will pay something for our food and shelter. Those of us walking the Camino are referred to as pilgrims, or peregrinos in Spanish. We will be given a "pilgrim passport" when we start at St. Jean and we'll have this passport stamped at each albergue we stay at along the way. The albergues are hostels just for the pilgrims where for a few euros we'll be given a mattress on a bunk bed in a large barracks-style space and maybe a "pilgrim meal", usually soup and bread, I hear. (I just hope it's a humongous bowl of soup and a whopping big hunk of bread!). Sometimes the albergues are in church basements or could even be in an area in a three-star hotel set aside for the pilgrims. And some restaurants will also offer pilgrim meals. We'll sleep and eat and walk this way until we reach the cathedral at Santiago, where opur pilgrimage will end. Some pilgrims continue on another 50 miles to the sea. (Not this pilgrim, I'm predicting, but who knows?). Of course, pilgrims are free to eat in regular restaurants and check into hotels along the way if they want (That could well happen a time or two. Or three.). But we'll be expected to be in the spirit of the Camino and share communal meals and walk in community, helping each other along the way. A couple of times when I've been lugging around my loaded-for-bear backpack the thought of going as a mendicant pilgrim has actually flittered across my mind -ah, freedom, the thought whispers. But then it's blown away by a big-muscled leather and chains hell's angel who zooms into my brain shouting, "You! Get outta here! I gotta have clean socks! I gotta have my pillow! I gotta eat whenever I want, as much as I want!"
Wow, I kind of wish I'd started this blog earlier because people are sharing info about options that I didn't know about, but now, with the trip 7 days out and me still working while trying to squeeze in some last-minute training, I really don't have time for any more exploratory shopping, though I wish I did; because it sounds like there's all sorts of light weight camping underwear products out there that apparently everybody else knows about but that I didn't. Mike suggested "poly undies" by which I'm thinking he means "Polyester" undies (and not "Polyanna" undies- been wearing those my whole life!). Anyway, we've already got the polyesters, thanks, Mike! Rory told me about special LL Bean briefs which you don't have to wash every day. (Hecks, can't I just not wash every day the ones I already have? Just kidding! Maybe.). Ruth said there are ultra lightweight disposable paper undies that can also be used as paper towels or wash cloths. (Before or after you've used them as undies? Sorry, Ruth, that's a my bad, they really do sound like a good idea!). Chris offered a brief but practical exigesis on why we actually wear undies. (Easier to wash "little pants" than "big pants"!) In any case, the common theme seems to be, For honkers sake, who'd even think of going without underware?
Not me, until I had to carry 'em on my back.
When we first started practicing for our Camino by tramping around the Columbus Metro parks with our backpacks I was so overwhelmed by the weight on my back that I suffered a few low points at which I questioned whether I'd be able to get through the first day, never mind the next forty. But over the weeks and months I've learned to lighten up to the point where I've become a real ounce weenie. Every extraneous ounce must go. Which whips up much mental cogitation: Do I need 3 pairs of socks or two? Or only one? Can I do without a sleeping bag and just sleep on the albergue (hostel) matresses in my clothes? (Yes, I've decided). A bar of soap weighs 4 ounces. If I cut it in half it's down to 2 ounces. If I cut it in half again it's down to 1 ounce and leaves me with a decent enough chunk with which to wash my hair and clothes along with my bod. And then there's the question of under ware. I mean, do you really need them? You're already wearing pants. Why another mini pair underneath? Who invented under ware,anyhow? And why?
Getting ready for the trip has been a journey in itself: finding the right boots then figuring out how to make them work, finding the right backpack then figuring out how to make it fit me, then filling it with only the barest necessities for the trip before tossing out most of those "necessities".
"Worrying is praying for what you don't want" - Pilgrim book in Zubiri
My husband Tom and I will be walking the 490.7-mile Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago, Spain. We leave Columbus 9/11/13 and return 10/30/13. God willing.
The sequel to "Equal and Opposite Reactions" in which a woman discovers the naked truth about herself.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Kindle:
or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library