Written: 15-05-2012 @ 18:34

This is our second day in Estella. We decided to take an extra night at the very nice Pension San Andres – one of the more posh pilgrim’s hostels. We have our own private room and small, though more than sufficient, bathroom. Kat’s blisters got the better of us yesterday afternoon when we were yet a couple of kilometers outside this medium-sized city. We picked up a bus in one of the suburbs and made our way into the city in record time.

We’ve been through some rough times these past number of hours – wondering whether or not we are cut out to make this journey. It’s awfully tough having half of our mode of transportation pretty well out of commission. We’ve also been learning a fair bit about minimalism and the ever present theme of arrogance that seems to be my companion (and perhaps a bit of Kat’s as well) on the Camino.

On minimalism, we ended up shipping home nearly 3.7 kg of gear today. We were somewhat mollified in this in comparing notes with the fine German couple who shared an Albergue with us two nights ago in Maneru before we got here to Estella. They had just shipped a box home to Berlin. We hauled our stuff another 16 km and ruminated over it a bit more before sending our own box home to the tune of 42 Euros! What an expensive lesson.

The biggest things in size and weight were Kat’s fine Italian hiking boots. Despite all the best advice from sages of Camino past, we both brought the same type of hiking boots we’ve used for so many years in different conditions instead of the more simple walking shoes. Truly, there are some places along the Camino where the extra support of a well-made leather hiking boot comes in quite handy, but the vast majority of this trail is much more path, cobbled streets, pavement, and other quite gentle terrain. We ended up visiting a local sports shop just around the corner from us here in Estella and buying Kat a new pair of walking shoes to make the rest of the journey – another part of the expensive lesson. Nevertheless, it was a nice experience working with Antonio at his little shop. Through my broken Spanish and his very little bit of English and much sign language, we managed to pick up a quite nice pair of shoes.

We walked around in the new shoes a bit today, but Kat’s blisters remain a bit of a problem as she cannot yet squeeze her feet into shoes for the time and distance needed to make the next few legs of our journey. Combined with the previous boot blisters, two days in sandals created a whole new set of problems on heels and toes. Alas, we’re off on a bus for a little while again tomorrow – making a couple of hops up the road to another town along the Camino where we’ll give her feet another day or so to heal and then see where that leaves us.

Somehow or the other, I’ve avoided the curse of the blisters. I also have big, heavy leather hiking boots, and I only purchased mine a relatively short time before the trip. However, through care in lacing them up properly and regular stops throughout the day to baby my feet with some wonderful menthol foot cream I brought along, my feet have remained mostly blister free. I had one little toe blister, but I think that was just a momentary, easily remedied nail issue. In retrospect, I too would have picked up a pair of much simpler walking shoes for this type of trip. I don’t mind wearing hiking boots, and they do come in handy at times. However, the weight of boots added to the body takes its toll with the kilometers.

In addition to Kat’s boots, we shipped home the brand spanking new small, lightweight cookstove I insisted on buying and bringing for the trip. We hadn’t even picked up fuel for the dang thing yet, though we could have also had that in Antonio’s shop. The truth is we really don’t need it to still enjoy either our own coffee at nearly any of the albergues, where we can heat water one way or the other, or at any of the many small taverns along the way where a cafe con leche are quite easily ordered. True, we’ll probably spend a few more Euros, but after what my back and knees went through for a couple of days carrying much more weight, we were needing to go through and drop every gram possible.

The other “big” thing we sent back was a Steri-pen, a slick little device for irradiating every bad thing we might find in water along the way. Sheesh, what a silly thing to have brought along! Fountains of fresh water are plentiful. We’ve seen one with a sign telling us to stay away and a couple that looked a little suspicious but did not result in anything of note a day or so after imbibing.

We also tossed an article or two of clothing and a handful of other odds and ends that we have not yet touched, do not anticipate needing, and can easily buy somewhere if we do end up having to have them. All told, that 3.7 kg is going to feel a heck of a lot better off our backs or bodies and on the way home to Estados Unidos – regardless of the exorbitant expense.

So, now we are left wondering two things. How much of this lesson on minimalism and honing in on what’s really necessary can we take home to our regular lives? And how can we remember the pain of being so arrogant as to think we might know better than those who have gone before and took the time to write down their advice?

I’ll be pondering these and more as we are on the bus tomorrow morning for a few kilometers to another respite along the Camino before once again embarking with our now much-lightened packs – meanwhile missing some exciting points along the Way, including the Monasterio Irache where wine flows from the side of the building into pilgrims’ waiting cups.