Packing list

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I was almost fanatical about thinking about what to take on the walk. Everything I read and those that I talked with said every ounce counts and I should keep paring the list of things I was taking. On the various Camino web sites there are discussion groups with packing lists from various people. Most lists are fairly constant with some personality showing through now and again. In one discussion thread a woman who was soon leaving for the Camino and who was stressing over what to take asked something interesting. She asked, “What did you leave behind while on the Camino?” Most of the respondents abandoned various clothing items though some left other things. It made me curious. I have been trying to observe what has been left behind. Most albergues have shelves of abandoned items that are free for the taking. Most are clothing. We have seen underwear, socks, shirts, etc. We’ve been most surprised the find a pair of boots along the trail (twice!). Some are toiletries. Other are just miscellaneous items. A woman we met from Canada brought many chemical hand warmer packets that were on sale at her outdoor supply co-op. We didn’t have cold weather and she left them behind at an albergue.June and I have both abandoned socks. I had some nice hiking socks but then at the last minute bought some additional “heavy duty hiking socks” with extra padding. I liked the concept of cushioned walking but the reality was increased tightness in my boots and discomfort. One day’s wearing and they were left behind. The same for June’s heavier socks.

Some other things are brought along and abandoned fairly quickly. Modesty, for example, quickly is abandoned or lost. When you are in a dorm type room with 20 or 120 other people of both genders you become accustomed to seeing people in various states of dress or undress. As a shy person this was disconcerting. But unless I wanted to stay in the same clothes forever there was no choice. Showers can be even more up close and personal. Many albergues have one unisex shower room with maybe 5 or 6 showers in it. There are shower stalls with a door ( if you are lucky) or a curtain (if less lucky). Hooks for clothes (if present) are on the wall across from the shower. People in towels, underwear or less make up the landscape. The best plan is to evert one’s eyes and get your shower over with.

Some people, very few thankfully, either leave at home or abandon courtesy. One common expression of this is being loud in the albergues when people are try to sleep. It is one thing to create rustling sounds stuffing sleeping bags into sacks or unpacking/packing backpacks. It is quite another coming in late or leaving early and talking loudly with traveling companions. Taking “excessive” time in showers when there are people waiting is another expression. The bikers seem to rank high on walker’s rudeness list. They come up behind you on a trail without any warning (no bell, no nothing) then when upon you they say something that scares the bejesus out of you. For those with poor hearing like me or someone like Jaime with even more hearing impairment it is downright dangerous.

Litter is another thing sometimes let behind. Again, this is pretty rare. The first, say, third of the Camino was virtually litter free. Litter began to be seen when approaching larger cities. I’d like to think that it was local urbanites rather than peregrinos leaving trash behind.

I know that there is a lot of internal baggage that is carried into the Camino. Attitudes, prejudices, emotional burdens, fears and the like are often heavier than the rucksack. Hopefully with the time spent walking, the friendships developed, and the “magic of the Camino” some of those will be discarded along with that extra bottle of shampoo. Sent from my iPhone

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