Our research started with reading travel guidebooks and personal narratives, attending Camino presentations, and talking with friends who had done the Camino. So many pilgrims have self-published accounts of their pilgrimages that we could spend years reading just those.
We compiled our lists of necessities based on good advice from the books we had read. We won’t have to carry tents, sleeping bags, or cooking utensils so that will certainly lighten our load. Peregrinos (pilgrims) typically stay in albergues, rustic shelters with bunkbeds in large shared rooms. And the Camino travels through small villages, farmland, and cities, so we will be able to shop and pack what food we need for the day.
Guidebooks suggest carrying only 10% of your body weight, pack included. That means we can include only clothes, rain gear, tiny or inflatable pillows, a journal, camera, books, technology (Ipads and cell phones), and personal toiletries.
A comfortable backpack is a basic necessity and the hardest purchase to make. The pack must rest on the hips to support the weight of its contents, and choosing just the right one requires trying on pack after pack and making multiple adjustments. Another difficult decision is walking shoes or boots that can handle cobblestone, gravel, and hot city asphalt streets. The right choice is critical. For clothing we have to plan for the heat of day and the cool, possibly cold, of the night. To accommodate the ranges of temperature, we will be bringing clothing we can layer. The Eastern Mountain Sports stores in Concord and Manchester were our biggest suppliers of these necessities. Their knowledgeable and helpful staff counseled us well and made difficult decisions seem easier.
Books are heavy, so each one would have to be chosen with acute discretion. A Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley is a must for both of us, plus a slim volume of carefully selected verses from A Course in Miracles for Judi. A borrowed IPAD mini for Judi and a borrowed Ipad for Barb will provide us with access to email, maps, and a built-in camera. We’ll both carry refurbished Iphones, and Judi will bring her regular digital camera as a backup. (Huge thanks go to Barb’s son Chuck for his generosity and expertise with all tech issues.)
Today we’re about a week and a half from the start of the trip, and Judi will be off to California tomorrow to attend her daughter’s wedding. She’s spent a summer chock full of adventures to begin her retirement. So packing and unpacking are progressing apace, and the excitement level is escalating for your two peregrinas who are eager to be their way!