My desk is piled high with paper covered with cryptic notes and print outs from various blogs and websites. A thick, dog-eared atlas with 1:300.000 scale maps of Spain is spread open and there are pencilled comments scrawled along the meandering path of the Camino de Santiago. A half-empty coffee cup stands abandoned nearby. Wadded up papers fall onto the floor. What a clutter! What chaos!
Most of the weekend, I've pored over guide books, recommendations and lists that I've collected for months and months. The tentative list of stops is coming together and the list is annotated with information of the altitude and walking ratings, sights to seek out, alburques and refugios to stop at and those to avoid. And of course, I love castles, no matter what their condition, so I've penciled them in as must-see side trips.
There is information on likely weather (certainly not likely to be very accurate - Spring weather is flirtatious or temperamental) and good places to dine on the cheap. There are annotations on art, architecture, history and frivolous things too. There are phone numbers, addresses and bits of poetry and prose...
The list is awkward and, like my desktop, it is messy. I will be editing soon and making a neat, clean copy in my personal journal.
The time is fast approaching when I will board the airplane and head east to begin my Camino de Santiago.
I am so grateful for all the advice and guidance veteran pilgrims have been sharing with me. Compiling it all is a pleasure (and a pain). In the end, I may or may not follow my lovingly-prepared plan.
So why plan? I find pleasure in the planning (the "what ifs"!), just as I find pleasure in the walking. It is not the destination, it is the journey, whether it is planning or engaging.
I am very likely to follow my heart and pursue something not on my agenda. A cattle fair, an open market, a band concert, a parade of kittens, a perfect picnic spot, a flock of sheep... anything may distract me from the path. And it will!
Of course, to me, that is the very magic of the Camino...we find what it is we need, we are free to fully engage in life. It will be a buen camino! It will be MY camino.
PS: I've posted links to a few very useful tools for planning a walk along the Camino. These sites provide a wonderful start to getting an outline of where to go, when to stop, where to stay, what is costs, and what the weather might be. See the sidebar. Happy planning!
3 weeks ago