Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Rain in Spain...

The rain in Spain falls mainly - in Spring.

Long ago, I lived on the dry plains in central Spain and have dealt with the infamous rain alluded to in the "My Fair Lady" tune everyone seems to know. But frankly the thought of slogging through the cold, driving rains of northern Spain puts a bit of a damper (yikes, baaaaad pun) on my pleasure in walking the pilgrimage to Santiago. In northern Spain, Galicia in particular, it rains frequently. I get cold just thinking of walking in a downpour actually.

Of course the old adage (April showers bring May flowers) will lighten my step. I anticipate seeing beautiful and bounteous blossoms blanketing the hills, dales and mountainsides. I will be happily slogging through the mud snapping photos of the glorious green and the riot of colors. How well I remember the hillsides covered with stunning red poppies. The countryside in Spring is like a Monet painting or a colorful Picasso canvas. I will hardly mind the cold, rain and mud.

In fact I may almost blend in with those brilliant scarlet poppies. Why? because one more decision has been made and one more step taken: my sweet and generous spouse went online and kindly ordered me a wonderful piece of rain gear to keep me warm and dry as I make my trek. This clever rain coat (see the photo above - but mine is an outrageous poppy RED!) goes over the backpack to keep everything dry. It is an Altus poncho and comes highly recommended among pilgrim experts who have been guiding me through through ropes.

The poncho weighs about a pound, but it is both a pack cover and a jacket. It converts for use with or without the backpack too. It has a full zipper and that appeals to me - many others I looked at must go over the head. The zipper improves ventilation too. I can think of ways to use it for other purposes too.

So in a week to ten days my red rain gear should arrive. And of course I will put it on over my backpack and walk the dog. I imagine our rural neighbors will be puzzled or amused when they look out their windows and see the odd, red, hunchbacked figure loping happily along behind the 3-legged dog!

One more decision down (thanks to my spouse!). Bring on those April showers! 8-)

Life is good...


Felipe Castro said...

Virginia: My two cents about rain (or, more to the point, mud, ponds of it!). Have good (but no new!) trekking shoes or boots, because some paths are going to be slippery. I envied badly people with gaiters, because I ended every day with mud up to my knees.
Some pilgrims resort to trekking sticks, some prefer the traditional walking canes (available in tourist shops, for instance in Pamplona), the young and brave not at all. Just in case: trekking sticks are not allowed in the dorms, you have to let them in the reception; in the morning hassle, they get sometimes mixed up -so mark them appropriately. Ah, first aid is free with your Credencial in public hospitals, and everybody is helpful in the way.
Enjoy the Camino. I hope that you, as I, will remember more fondly the hard and difficult days than the easy ones.
Buen camino, peregrina!

Virginia said...

Greetings Felipe,

Slogging through mud can be pretty tedious and the clean up too...not to mention tiring. I guess I will be honing my skills in that arena! It is character building at any rate! We do get some practice here in NM where the dirt roads I walk the dog on get really nasty (and so does the dog!). I am still deciding about walking sticks...may wait till I get in country and pick up something there...

Life is good...just too short!

Watchin; the Snow Fly in Santa Fe

CarolineMathieson said...

f you are starting at St Jean Pied Du Port then they have really nice long walking sticks in the tourist shops there. I never bother with them myself as I keep losing them by the time I reach Burgos.

As for rain ponchos, the main problem I have is that I get just as wet from sweat with the poncho on as I get from the rain with the poncho off! I've walked the camino 8 times and I find its better to wear a good rainproof jacket and rain pants.

What usually happens is that the rain is accompanied by strong wind and trying to put on a poncho in wind can be almost impossible. I'm glad to hear that yours has a zip as that will make the process much easier. When you have to put it on, turn your back to the wind while you do so.

Virginia said...

Caroline - ahhhhh yes the wind and the sweat-issue.

When I worked outdoors on the flightline (I was an avionic technician on fighter aircraft in the US Air Force) in northern Michigan we were issued rain jackets and trousers that did not breathe so I became familiar those challenges. (We used to slit the underarm seam and the crotch to allow some airflow.) I spent a lot of time cold and wet regardless of any of our manmade attempts to stay warm and dry as we performed our mission.

I settled on this poncho based on inputs from other repeat-Camino walkers. No doubt there will be some challenges...which will hopefully evolve into humorous stories to share with others.

Thanks for your kind advice! Keep it coming Pilgrim! 8-)

FYI: I have very long hair so I have never liked that old Irish saying about keeping the wind to your back! 8-)

Sipping Coffee in Snowy Santa Fe

Compostelle 2008 said...


Get pants with a zippered bottom instead of gaiters. You can just wash the bottom. Gaiters are a pain to put on and the mud gets in the snaps.

Michèle from Ottawa (Canada)

Virginia said...

Sounds reasonable. Thanks for the suggestion.

Back in my youth, we would tie plastic bags over our galoshes (like spats) and lower legs to slog through the rain and mud on country roads...they kept our lower legs clean and when we were at our destination we just tossed the bags.

In Africa during the floods, my brother just rolls up his trousers and removes his is washable.

In Santa Fe