It’s your Camino

It’s your Camino

It’s your Camino

Does that sound familiar? If you’ve been planning and/or thinking about your Camino de Santiago for a while I’m sure you’ve heard it or read it before.

To me, it means that it’s OK to ask for advice and read about other pilgrims’ experiences, but you should make your own decisions. You know yourself best and you are, therefore, the most qualified person to decide what the best choices for you are.

Your Camino, your rules. After all, a pilgrimage is “a journey to a shrine or other sacred place”. There is nothing in the definition to indicate how far you have to walk (it doesn’t even say you have to walk), where you must sleep or how much weight you should carry.

Everyone’s experience is different and the fact that someone has already done a Camino (or dos or diez) does not mean that what worked for them is going to work for you. OK, some things are plain common sense but many of them are really just a personal choice.

And if you don’t believe me, read on.

Someone recently asked in a Camino forum the following question:

 

What’s one item you packed and never used?

It was funny to read how items that some people packed and never used were essential for some other people.

  • Saco de dormir (sleeping bag). Whether you need one or not will depend a lot on the time of the year you are doing your Camino and where you are sleeping. Generally speaking, you will need one if you are staying in the municipal albergues and you won’t if you stay in private accommodation. But there are exceptions too.

 

  • Ropa de lluvia (rain gear). Again, whether you will need it or not will depend on a number of factors such as the time of the year or the Camino you’ve chosen. However, the weather can be a bit of a lottery, so it’s hard to know what’s going to happen.

Last year, for instance, was exceptionally dry and so it didn’t rain during months that are generally wet. This year, on the other hand, has been quite wet (more than usual) so you might need some ropa de lluvia even now, in verano (summer).

 

  • Bañador (swimming suit). Time of the year is again a deciding factor, as well as the chosen route: you are more likely to need a bañador in the summer months and/or if you do one of the Caminos along the coast (Camino del Norte or Portugués por la Costa, for instance). But that doesn’t mean you won’t need it elsewhere: some albergues have piscinas (swimming pools) and you could also decide to take a rest day and stay in a nice hotel with a spa!

 

  • Almohada (pillow). Some people take an inflatable almohada and use it; others take it and don’t use it; some others manage with whatever almohadas are available in their albergue and some make one out of their spare clothes. It’s up to you!
 

What else?

  • Tendedero (clothesline). Some people took one and used it daily; some others never used it. Alternatively, you can pack a spare pair of shoe laces and use them as your tendedero if you ever need one. Albergues generally have space for you to hang your clothes to dry.

 

  • Spork. I have to admit I didn’t have a clue if there was a word in Spanish for a spork. After some searching, I found cuchador, a combination of cuchara (spoon) and tenedor (fork). However, I’m not sure how widely used this word is (I’ve never heard it).

Anyway, whether the word cuchador is used in Spanish or not, the fact is that it’s one of those items that some people used all the time and some others packed but never used.

Can you add anything to this list? I’d love to hear your experiences.

 

Today’s Spanish words

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!

El botiquín

El botiquín

El botiquín |

When you are packing your mochila you should leave some space for a small botiquín (first-aid kit). But what should it include? Of course, if you normally take any medications, make sure you pack enough of it, or find out if you can get it in Spain.

As I mentioned in previous posts, it’s important to keep your mochila as light as possible. As one experienced pilgrim advised us last week:

No “just in case” stuff. You can buy what you need in Spain.

And where can you buy health related items? The most obvious answer is a farmacia. Here you can get medicines, with or without prescription, as well as a long list of other items for your personal care.

The pharmacy sector is very regulated in Spain, which means you can’t just open a new farmacia anywhere you like. As a result, a few years ago a new type of business was created: the parafarmacia.

Basically, in a parafarmacia you can find the same stuff as in a farmacia, except for medicines: they sell tiritas and Compeed, creams (sun protection and others), personal hygiene products: from jabón (soap), to shampoo, to pasta de dientes (toothpaste)…

At times when shops are usually closed, such as late evenings and Sundays, there is always a farmacia de guardia (pharmacy on-call). All farmacias have to display a list of the farmacias de guardia in the area. The problem is that if you are in a small town, the nearest farmacia de guardia will probably be in the next town. Not very convenient!

That’s why it is a good idea to always carry a few basic items with you.

 

So, what should you carry in el botiquín?

 

Pilgrim foot care

 

Your pies (feet) are the most important part of your body when you are doing the Camino de Santiago and not looking after them properly can put an early end to your walk.

Ampollas (blisters) are the most common problem that pilgrims face. We should do whatever we can to prevent them, but sometimes they are inevitable. In previous posts I discussed calzado (shoes) and calcetines (socks), as well as vaselina and tennis balls. I have also read an article recently saying that paper tape could be an effective and cheap way to prevent blisters.

 

  • If all of the above fails and you get ampollas, you will need aguja (needle) to drain the fluid (but don’t remove the skin!). Make sure your aguja is disinfected before you use it and that you also disinfect the area afterwards. Then you can cover it with tiritas or something similar.

 

  • Depending on the time of the year when you do your Camino de Santiago, you might also need protector solar or crema solar (sun protection cream).

 

  • Ibuprofeno is a Camino favourite is everyone’s botiquín. It works as an anti-inflammatory if you have any swelling, and as pain relief, too. And you can get it in different formats (gel, tablets and even powder to mix with water). As with any other drug, just make sure you check what the right dose is as well as the possible side effects and contraindications.

 

So, what are you planning to include in el botiquín? Or, if you already have Camino experience, what did you take? Did you have to buy anything?

 

Today’s words

Your packing advice

Your packing advice

We are still packing our mochilas! First we packed a few general items, then it was the turn of la ropa and last week was about other items. As I mentioned before, for this week’s post I asked experienced pilgrims for their advice. I wanted to know about the best and worst items they packed. So, today, it’s your packing advice.

The answers were many and varied, with some items proving quite popular and some others more personal.

 

Let’s start with the best items to pack

The most popular item, by far, among the ladies is a pareo (sarong), as it serves multiple purposes (in fact, I think I could write a whole post just about it!):

  • it serves as a sábana (sheet)
  • or as a toalla (towel)
  • you can wear it as a falda (skirt)
  • or as a vestido (dress), for instance, when you are washing the rest of your clothes.
  • you can tuck it around your litera for privacy
  • you can use it as a pillowcase or as a pillow
  • it’s an extra layer on cold mornings
  • it can be used as sun protection too

Last week I listed imperdibles (safety pins) and they were mentioned as essential by many pilgrims. Tapones para los oídos are quite popular among experienced pilgrims too.

When it comes to calzado (shoes), things get more personal. Some people swear by their sandalias, whereas others prefer shoes. However, most people agree on  merino wool calcetines (socks). In fact, any light merino clothing appears to be very popular, from ropa interior to camisetas: they dry quickly and don’t get stinky!

Your feet are very important and need a lot of care while doing the Camino de Santiago. Vaselina is a very popular option when it comes to footcare, although different people use different products: chamois cream, footcream… And, believe it or not, a tennis ball is a great thing to pack! You can use it to massage your feet and other areas.

Last week I recommended taking a móvil (mobile phone) which, among other uses, can also serve as a camera. The problem is that, if you are like me and tend to take loads of pictures, you will run out of memory in no time.

Tina-Marie had the perfect solution: a 256GB USB memory stick for your móvil. In Tina-Marie’s words “it was easy to move the photos and videos over thus freeing up the phone; it weighed next to nothing and fit in my pocket”.

 

 

What should you not pack

What people regretted the most was packing too much stuff. I love Beth’s piece of advice:

Don’t take anything on the Camino you aren’t willing to leave behind to lighten your load. I left toiletries and clothing at every albergue for the first 10 nights. I walked with people who carried way too much weight but were unwilling to ditch their items. Not being attached allowed me the freedom to let go, lighten my burden, and walk free!

Most people said they packed too many clothes (ropa). Take two outfits only, plus maybe one other thing that you can wear while you do laundry or to go out in the towns you are visiting.

Navaja suiza (Swiss Army knife) was another item that many people packed and then didn’t use. And it’s heavy!

A few people took a guía (guidebook) and then didn’t use it, but some others did use their guidebooks, so just think about it: do you think you will use it? Or can you manage without it?

When in doubt, follow Alder’s advice:

No “just in case” stuff. You can buy what you need in Spain.

Krista Spurr, has a lot of invaluable information in her Bite-sized travel blog. In this post in particular, she shares her packing list for her 2017 Camino. She is very thorough and analyses every item she took: https://bitesizedtravel.ca/2017/10/12/my-camino-de-santiago-packing-list-2017-what-worked-what-didnt/

 

Today’s words

For the pronunciation of ropa and calzado, check the post about your backpack.

For the pronunciation of calcetines, sandalias, camisetas and ropa interior, check this post about clothes.

For the pronunciation of tapones, imperdibles and móvil, check this post about other things to pack.

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¡Buen Camino!

¿Qué llevas en la mochila?

¿Qué llevas en la mochila?

¿Qué llevas en la mochila? |

A few weeks ago I asked you this question:

¿Qué llevas en la mochila?

or

What are you going to take in your backpack?

 

In that post  I wrote about general items that you will need during your Camino de Santiago. Then, last week I concentrated on la ropa (clothes). But you need some other things as well. I will write a post soon about healthcare stuff you may need. So, today I’m going to tell you about other items you should bring in your mochila.

 

  • Some people use them, some others don’t but they can be useful going up and down hills. They provide extra support and stability and they also reduce the effort, therefore helping you keep your joints and ligaments in good shape. I’m talking about bastones (trekking poles). Look for something light and foldable.

 

que llevas en la mochila
  • Tapones (para los oídos) or earplugs. Don’t leave them behind if you are planning to stay in albergues. You never know if the person in the next litera is a snorer… or how early some fellow pilgrims will get out of bed and start making noise!

 

  • Linterna (torchlight). It will be useful if you are planning to start walking before sunrise. If you are using it inside your albergue dorm, please be thoughtful of the people who are still sleeping. Nobody likes light flashing in their eyes at 5 am! A headlamp is probably the most convenient type to use, as your hands will be free to do whatever you need to do.

 

  • Imperdibles (safety pins). They can have several uses, one of them being to “hang” your wet clothes from your mochila and let them dry while you walk.

 

  • Móvil y cargador (mobile phone and charger). A mobile phone is great to have in case you need to call for help in an emergency. You can use it as a GPS. And you can also use it to take pictures (it saves you the weight of the camera). But make sure it doesn’t distract you too much from the scenery and your surroundings. You could be missing great things

 

And that’s it for today! For next week I’m hoping to get some help from experienced pilgrims. I’d love to get their recommendations. So, if you are reading this and you have already done the Camino, I’d love to hear from you.

 

What’s the best item you packed? And the worst?

Today’s words

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¡Buen Camino!

La ropa

La ropa

In a previous post I discussed the things that you should pack in your mochila or backpack (you can read it here). On that occasion I only mentioned a few general items like ropa (clothes), calzado (shoes) or toiletries and promised to elaborate on the topic. So, this week it’s the turn of la ropa (clothes).

So, what ropa should you take? As I said before, you shouldn’t pack too many items, unless you are planning to have your bag transported from one place to the next one: you will have to carry the weight, remember? And you can always do a bit of washing at the end of your walking day.

Again, what ropa you take will differ slightly depending on the route you have chosen and the time of the year when you are doing the Camino de Santiago, but there are still some general recommendations you should follow!

Two outfits are enough: The one you are wearing and another one for when you wash the first one. It might be a good idea to get technical clothing, made of improved fabrics that stay warmer, dry quicker, block the sun…

 

La ropa

  • Camisetas (T-shirts). Dos (2) or tres (3) camisetas is enough, both short and long sleeve (this will also depend on what time of the year you are doing your Camino).

 

  • Pantalones (trousers). A couple of them. It might be a good idea to get one of those with a zip, that will convert into shorts when needed. Make sure they are comfortable and not itchy.

 

  • Calcetines (socks). Probably one of the most important clothes decision you will take: just think that you are going to walk for many hours every day, so you need to take good care of your feet.  Some people like to wear two pairs, some others wear one pair and change it half way through their daily walk… you should do what works for you. Just remember how important your feet are and make sure they stay dry.

 

  • Ropa interior (underwear). Again, two or three pairs is OK.

 

  • Chubasquero (rain jacket). Some people prefer to take a poncho that will cover themselves and their bag, some others prefer a waterproof jacket… there are many options, but some sort of raingear is advisable, especially if you are not doing the Camino in the summer (and even in the summer you can get wet days in the north of Spain).

 

  • Calzado (shoes): again, your choice will depend your route and the time of the year, but whether you choose trekking boots or shoes, make sure they are not new! If you need to buy a new pair of shoes, you should start wearing them at least three months before you start your Camino.

 

  • Apart from your walking shoes, you should also pack a pair of sandalias or chanclas (sandals, flip flops) to give your feet a rest after the walk. Chanclas are also very important to get into la ducha in albergues.

 

If you already have experience doing the Camino de Santiago, I would love to hear your advice on things to pack, clothes and otherwise. What were the most useful things you took along? Did you get rid of anything along the way because it was not necessary and it only added weight to your backpack? I’d love to hear your stories! You can comment here or go to our Facebook group and leave a comment there.

 

 

Today’s Spanish words

washing your clothes on the Camino

 

 

 

For the pronunciation of ducha, check albergues.

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¡Buen Camino!

La mochila

La mochila

La mochila |

Last week I asked you…  

But that’s not the only decision you need to make before you start your pilgrimage.

 

A very important one is:

 

 ¿Qué vas a llevar en la mochila? 

 

or

 

What are you going to take in your backpack?

 

Unless you decide to get your mochila transferred from place to place by a courier company,  you will have to carry it with you every day. So you don’t want to pack unnecessary items that will only add weight. The general recommendation is that you should not carry more than 10% of your own weight. Let’s say you weigh 70kg; then your mochila should not be heavier than 7kg.

 

So what should you pack? The contents of your mochila will differ slightly depending on the route you have chosen and the time of the year when you are doing it, but there are things you can’t leave behind!

 

  • Ropa (clothes): it will be a bit different depending on the time of the year you are travelling (and I will elaborate on clothes and toiletries in the coming weeks), but as a general rule, you should bring trousers, two or three T-shirts, as well as underwear and socks.

 

  • Calzado (shoes): again, your choice will depend on your route and the time of the year, but whether you choose trekking boots or shoes, make sure they are not new! If you need to buy a new pair of shoes, you should start wearing them at least three months before you start your Camino.

 

  • Toalla (towel): a lightweight quick dry towel is your best choice.

 

  • Tiritas (plasters): to take care of your feet, so you can rub vaseline in every day. If you still get blisters, tiritas might come in handy!

 

  • Toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.

 

Are you ready to answer the question now? And what would you add to this list?

mochila

 

 

Why don’t you write a comment with your answer?

Try:

 

Voy a llevar… or llevo(If you are already doing the Camino).

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¡Buen Camino!