When preparing for a walk on the Camino or any very long walk it is advisable to consider the prospect of blisters. It goes without saying that to walk in pain is not much fun and best avoided if at all possible. Armed with this gem of infinite wisdom it is therefore advisable to wear socks which reduce the chance of blisters developing.
This can be achieved by wearing two pairs, ideally a thin pair of lambswool socks inside a thicker pair. The friction of the socks avoids friction against the skin thus reducing the likelihood of blisters. Even so, blisters can still occur no matter what precautions one takes so it is prudent to pack a small first-aid kit containing plasters and bandages.
Tents set up along the way are open to walkers who wish to receive medical attention for peregrinations but I found these facilities located towards the end of the Camino Frances – the most popular of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela – and one ought not to rely on such things as everything changes in this world of ours and who knows what facilities will be available on your walk?
Some people gave up their pilgrimage citing injuries as valid or convincing reasons for not continuing further. Indeed this happened on my second Camino when knee strain thwarted further progress. However, this afforded an opportunity to explore other regions of Spain.
Nevertheless, I did wonder at the time, whether my refusal to continue was due to my not being as fully committed as I had been on my first Camino when I vowed that nothing would impede my progress – not even my job.
In a room at a remote hotel I wrapped a bandage around my foot. I resolved that if I could no longer effectively walk an alternative way of reaching my destination would have to be found. If I could not walk, I would cycle, and if I could not go by bike, I would find whatever transport was available.
Whichever way I travelled, by whatever mode, I would arrive, no matter what. I have rarely felt so committed to a plan or objective. In so doing I discovered that life tends to support those who follow such a path. The Camino is not best suited for those who seek a bus or a taxi to get from one place to the next but the crucial point is a determination to achieve one’s goal. Faith in one’s destination can invite an advantageous outcome and I discovered that such resolve has its own gravity and that I would continue no matter what the inconvenience or impediment. As if to endorse these thoughts I encountered a German by the name of Wolf further along the route. He lived in or near an albergue in the small town of Mansilla de las Mulas, just over halfway along on the Camino Frances. It was in this setting that I experienced healing for an injured foot and the entire story is told in my recently published book, No Sacred Oxen. Suffice to say it meant that I could complete my journey thereafter unimpeded and free to enjoy one of the greatest walks of my life.
When walking on the Camino one becomes accustomed to the sight of nature. Swallows swooping down for insects made lower by atmospheric pressure meant rain was imminent. When the flight of swallows took them on a course just above ground level I knew that rain was about to fall and made whatever preparation I could in an effort to remain dry. In observing the habits of birds I found that it made one feel more in touch with nature during an otherwise overcast afternoon.
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