The Camino forum has had significant discussions about Camino etiquette this week. It wasn’t something I had considered before so it was interesting to read. It’s seen as very bad manners to put your backpack on a bed – both backpacks and beds tend to get grubby on the walk so adding to the problem has to be avoided. It’s also not acceptable to put your backpack on a chair – they are for sitting on only. So I need to add a small rope to my pack in order to be able to hang my bag from the bunk post.
The forum is great for all sorts of information and for keeping up to date about problems along the way. At the moment I am slightly concerned because the Napoleon route over the Pyrenees is still being regularly closed due to bad weather. The Valcarlos route is open year round but involves far more road walking and does not have the spectacular views of the higher trail … also the only accommodation I have pre-booked is at the Albergue Orisson, half way up the Napoleon route as I decided I wanted to give myself an easy first day and break the climb rather than doing the entire 24.9km, when there is no option but to do 21.8km downhill the following day. That’s the plan anyway, but if there are still mud slips or snow it may not happen.
I think my pack is finally complete, which means it contains the bare minimum. Here’s my packing list: Sleeping bag, pillowcase, foam mat, walking sticks, spare shoe laces, reading and sunglasses, biro, half a loo roll with the centre stuffed with a few nappy sacks, 3 plug adaptor (Marta told me this was completely essential if you ever wanted a chance of charging your phone), guidebook, Camino passport, ID, list of names and addresses plus mobile numbers of friends and family, rain poncho, 3 pairs of socks, 3 changes of underwear, a knife in a belt holder, half a roll of ducktape (for emergency mending of boots, pack etc), safety pins (also for emergency repairs and for hanging still damp washing off your pack), first aid kit (probably my biggest and heaviest item!), flipflops (another thing Marta says is vital for the showers at the albergues), sealable plastic bag for taking all valuables to the showers, hairbrush, toothpaste and toothbrush, face cream with sun protection, bar of black African soap (which should be OK for face, body and clothes hopefully), 1 short sleeved T shirt, 1 long sleeved T shirt, 1 fleece, 1 gortex coat, 1 quick drying towel, 1 balaclava (turquoise, so I’m not mistaken for a terrorist), gloves, money belt, phone and iPad, earplugs (most essential when you are trying to sleep in a huge domitory of knackered walkers) 1 bag of nuts, 1 bag of dried fruit, 2ltrs of water.
I wasn’t too worried about removing my head torch, shampoo, and a few other luxury items when I realised my pack was over the 9kg that is seen to be the maximum for a 70kg young fit male (aka 60kg mid-fifties female with documented back-fat) but when my pot of Marmite had to go the full force of Lenten deprivation hit me. Marmite is my comfort blanket. Not since 1969 when my mother forgot to pack a jar when we went to France, have the two of us been parted. I tried removing all kinds of other essentials , but none were as heavy. I went on line to buy the little sachets you sometimes find in hotels but nearly 30 quid for 8, once exorbident postage and packing was put on top, was too much for me to stomach. So, most family meals at present contain copious amounts of Marmite in an attempt to gut stock pile before leaving! Of course I’ll miss Pete, the kids, the dog, my comfy mattress … but the Marmite, that’s going to make this into a truly challenging pilgrimage!
If anyone would like to make a donation to Mallorca’s Cancer Support Group to help them fund a permanent room in which to hold counselling sessions, nutritional talks and other functions, please make a transfer to their account in La Caixa IBAN ES82 2100 1042 6602 0025 6818 marked Because I Can and your name. Unfortunately their website is playing up at the moment, but hopefully it will be back on line next week with a Paypal button that can be used instead.