In the course of all the conversations I've had with people about doing the Camino a second time, besides "Why are you doing this a second time?", the question I'm most often asked is, "So what will you do differently this time?"
To which I generally reply that:
1. We're spending 11 days more than we did last time because last time I was so slow we had to cut out about 57 kilometers of the Camino (we took the train for that distance) in order to be done in time;
2. I've switched my oh-so-critical rain apparel from cheap-poncho-over-a-Frogg-Toggs-rain-suit (which worked rather wretchedly for me last time,
For the record, most Camino pilgrims just carry a sleeping bag;
4. And, unless we have no option other than sleeping out on the concrete, we hope to avoid the municipal albergue (the abergues are the hostels along the Camino just for the pilgrims) in the town of Zubiri, and not only because the shower facility there was just one long stall with five shower heads and no walls between and no locks on the shower room door. The place had other debits as well. (see "Tighten your boots" post from 9/18/2013).
Other than that, well, I expect we'll start at the same place as last time, St. Jean Pied de Port, France and, hopefully, end up in Santiago, Spain, using the same unchanging routine: waking up in the morning, grabbing our packs and sticks, walking all day with fellow pilgrims from all over the planet, falling into bed bone-tired at night.
But in truth there is one elephant in my mind that I expect I'll be carrying in tandem with the little elephant on my back (see yesterday's post), that I wish I could leave behind this time: that's my fear of the steep, jagged, wobbly rocks we encountered last time that always paralyzed me with a fear of falling. I had a nick name for these little Frankensteins of mine: I called them the Wretched Stones (which I also called the difficult stones along our training route in Clear Creek park and named after the Chris Van Allsburg picture book. See post from 8/25/2015).
Sometimes on the Camino I would stand at the top of a steep rocky crest gripping my sticks, unable to make myself move down the hill. Meanwhile the other pilgrims would have to maneuver around me, the young ones hopping down the rocks ahead of me like mountain goats, now and then one of them turning back to me and, perched on a rock, extending their hand to me in an offer to help me down. "Oh, no, heh, heh, I'm fine," I'd respond, fearing to drag both of us down the hill to our untimely deaths.
So anyway, the one thing I truly wish to do differently this time is to overcome my fear of downward inclines and big rocks.
Even now, two days before we leave, I'm trying to talk myself into making this change, leaving my mental elephant behind.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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