3 Things I Did Wrong and Right On the Camino de Santiago
Im always trying to pack light, be more comfortable on a hike, be faster on a bike, or learn as much as I can. We all make mistakes and we need to learn from them, but we also make successes that we should hold on to. Because with a failure you learn one way to do something wrong but with a success you learn one way to do something right. Either one is a very powerful moment in your life that you should not look past, but instead learn from. Here are the three things I felt I did wrong and right while riding on the Camino Portuguese.
1) Food Preparation
Food on the camino is not scarce but if not careful can be expensive. When i get to towns im always on the lookout for pilgrim menus or menu of the days for 7-10 euros. When none are in sight I turn to the trusty tripadvisor app.
But I am not talking about saving money by going to the supermarket or finding that inexpensive hole in the wall. Where I surprised myself was packing inexpensive snacks. Before I left to the Camino I had baked a simple cake that I then cut into small, snack sized squares and individually wrapped them in aluminium foil. Every day before I left the albergue I packed two snacks into the hip pockets of my bag so that I could snack as I rode. This saved me time and money on the camino.
Additionally I had bought a large package of cream filled wafers for 99 cents and again individually packed a few pieces in plastic wrap. I packed enough snacks for the first two days but this ended up lasting three as everyday I bought a piece of fruit at the plentiful fruit markets that are found across Portugal and Galicia.
2) Booked Accommodations in Advance
Want an albergue with washer, kitchen, clean, beds with curtains, and free towels? Then do your research and book in advance. Yes, the albergues will let you reserve rooms. Some of these albergues are super impressive and even nicer then hotels. If you plan on doing the camino during July or August or the popular camino frances then the trail my be so busy there might not be enough room for all the pilgrims hiking. If you do not book in advance make sure to get to town early.
The best thing we did was book the albergues ahead of time and added a note saying we had bikes. The albergues were super accommodating and gave us rooms at ground level or gave us a secure place to put our bikes.
3) Packed Light
If there is one thing I advocate it is to pack light, and this year I packed as light as I ever did. I fit almost everything I had in a 10 liter pack. It felt great. Hills were easy to ascend. Hiking my bike was easy since it was without extra weight. I plan on doing the camino next year walking with the same 10 liter pack. Maybe I even cut my toothbrush in half.
1) Packing Things I Didnt Use
Even though I am proud of how light I packed the reality is I could have packed even lighter. Flash light, 5 hour energy, and my knife were items I never used on the trip. Removing things you do not need or use are a great way to remove weight, and come next year I plan on not having these In my pack.
2) Did Not Drink Enough Water
This year I switched from using water bottles to a hydration pack, and in my mind I thought since I have doubled the water capacity there was no way I could get dehydrated. Later into the first day and up to the fourth I started to get severe indigestion. I later found out that I was indeed not drinking enough water.
You see while riding every couple of minutes I would take a sip of water. This of course was different from the large gulps I would have taken from a water bottle. Because of no visually seeing the reservoir I didn't notice how small my sips were and how little I was truly drinking. You see I wasn't dehydrated because I was still taking in water but I was drinking in enough water and sweating faster then I could rehydrate.
My body was helping me digest food so that I could get the energy for riding by creating a stronger acidic environment in my stomach. The lack of water and probably lack of bicarbonates and electrolytes was causing the acid to do damage to the lining of my stomach. The fifth day I increased my water consumption and drank an Aquarius (a type of soda) mid day and all the indigestion problems went away.
3) Cloths Were Not Nice Enough for Tapas
I looked like hiker trash on the trail and I looked like hiker trash eating at a restaurant. Of course no one cared (or at least I thought), but I wouldn't have minded a nicer outfit for walking around the town. My goal for next year will be to find shorts and shirt that will be efficient for hiking but also appealing to wear.
For those unfamiliar with the Camino de Santiago, it is a thru hike that takes you through the most beautiful places in Spain. Spains great food and fantastic culture makes it worth traveling through. If you are up for it when getting to town, then exploring the amazing cities are well worth it. The Camino de Santiago is much more than just a thru hike.