a late night post to Buddy System on the Camino

Hi girls I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson’s Disease. I move slowly but steadily. I have traveled in various parts of Europe but have loved no adventure more than my Camino experiences. There is no better feeling than to know you have the courage and skills to travel independently. The Camino is all about meeting fellow pilgrims who become your family while you walk. Please do not travel in fear. Be alert and cautious but not fearful. I offer you these general suggestions, some you have read about and others may be new to you. Please feel free to comment and add. Here is my random thought flow…
Leave jewelry and anything more than basic make-up at home.
After you arrive in Europe rest and acclimatize. Jet lag can cause you to be groggy and you should be rested and alert when you start.
If you walk in shorts you are likely to get the Camino rash from your ankles to your knees. Its a mystery rash that goes away. Also be prepared for some chaffing between your legs. And most important is foot care! Walking 500 miles fighting blisters is not fun.
Its very fun to have wine or beer with friends in the evening. Walking back to your albergue with a buzz on and tripping and getting hurt is not fun. And beware of Camino Casinovas.
Having cash is fun. Get your money from an ATM just inside the doors of an open bank. If you have trouble with card or the machine eats it help is nearby. Keep your cash,cards and passport on you at all times.And always have a couple days of cash in small bills on hand. Take your important stuff and money in the shower in a plastic bag.
Listen for bicyclists coming up behind you on the narrow trails. They are supposed to ring their bike bell or call a warning but many dont, or you may have your music up too loud to hear them. Be alert so you dont collide
The water in the fountains along the WAY is good to drink unless otherwise marked. This is not to say you wont have a tummy ache, bout of diarrhea or catch a cold. Have a few tablets of whatever you use at home and then visit or send a friend to the farmacia to get more. Email pictures of your bottled prescriptions and travel documents to yourself so that they can be viewed from a computer in town even if you lose your cell phone. The farmacia was able to fill my lost Parkinson’s meds without a question.
. Remember that you can always get a taxi and almost always ride a bus. The bus is cheap and modern and can catch you up to friends if you need to rest a day. Luggage can be sent ahead so a small string bag with your rain jacket and water bottle may be all you need to carry.Weight makes a big difference, especially when you are not at your best.
You may walk quite a ways before finding a bar with a bathroom. Know “how to go” outside. Carry a little tp and a plastic bag. You are going to be appalled at where people “go” so dont contribute to the mess.
When you find your albergue for the night… request a bottom bunk if you are one of our older sisters or have trouble climbing ladders. I hang my sarong ,towel and jacket around my bottom bunk to create a visual barrier between myself and that 30 year old guy from Holland snoring three feet from my head. Don’t get anxious about finding a bunk for the night just because you are slow like me. There are many more options than albergues. Private albergues take reservations. Casa Rurales are lovely option bed and breakfast lodging and there are often rooms connected with bars. Keep asking.
Dogs have been watching people walk the Camino for centuries. They will not trouble you unless you step inside their barn to pee! Just a warning.
You will come across herds of beautiful horses, sheep and cows on open range and will meet up with those being herded. They, like the dogs, have “pilgrim watching” bred into them. But have one spook as you try to pet it may result in a camino ending kick bunt or bite. Record their beauty with your camera.
I personally see no reason to walk in the dark. And those headlamps you wear to find your way to the bathroom in the albergue shine wherever you look, which could be right in my eyes. A tiny flashlight is fine.
I hope these other “health and “safety” issues are useful. I will be landing in Madrid Sept 9 and taking the train to Pamplona. I will be walking until I fly home on Oct.6. If you want to walk with me be prepared to pray, sing, tell stories, eat ice cream at least three times a day and laugh a lot. At my slow pace there is plenty of time for these activities. I always wear a pink cap and I have a blue pack with camino patches
Buen Camino peregrinas. Carol, the Pilgrim with Parkinsons

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