First off, I should apologize. In a previous post I carelessly recommended the Camino to everyone, having barely begun to walk myself. There are a few things you should know, to prepare, in case you decide to do something like this.
#1. No amount of hiking or walking in advance can condition your feet for what they will endure. So if you want to be as close as possible to prepared, here is what I prescribe. Start by putting your feet in an oven, preheated to 350 degrees. Leave them there at for about half an hour. Then take them out and hammer them with a sledgehammer. Then go for a 24 hour walk on some gravel. If your feet aren’t swollen to a whole new shoe size, and if you don’t have blisters on and in between every toe, repeat the process. Once you get to the point where your toes are numb and you are ready to amputate, you’re good to start walking.
#2. Choose a song or two, preferably some that you really love, such as ‘Copa Cabana’ or ‘If You Wannabe My Lover.’ Now play them on repeat in your head all day every day.
#3. Make up a joke and tell it in Spanish. If nobody laughs, you’ve done it right.
#4. Try hand-washing your clothes for a month. You will have a new definition of ‘clean.’ While you’re at it, go to a restaurant and take off your shoes and socks on the patio. Ignore the funny looks.
#5. Walk in a thunderstorm on the freeway for an hour, and try not to get hit by a car.
#6. Throw a slumber party every night with 20 of your loudest snoring friends. Try to still remain friends when you wake up.
I kid, I kid. Kind of. Despite the pain, the rewards of this journey are endless. The actual act of walking outside every day is extremely rewarding. But the beauty of the walk isn’t everything. Before, when people asked my why I chose to walk the camino I had a lot of reasons, but something about this walk goes further than my vague descriptions of how pretty it would be, or how I would never have a month off again to do something like this. I’ve found that many people that are walking are offering up their Camino for some religious purpose or prayer or thanks. For me it has forced me to assess my life and my values, to begin to let go of some regrets, and to really be thankful for friends, family, and community. The Camino allows the space and time to think, whether you’d like to or not. And you inevitably come away with a few lifelong friends, while you’re at it.