To answer this I would have to go back to my first ever Camino. I came across an article in the Irish times about the Camino Frances and how the writer had a life changing experience. I felt this was something “I too would like in my life” and duly booked in to walk from Leon to Port au Marin. I mean how hard could this be, it was just walking right ?
I arrived wearing cheap Dunnes stores boots, nylon socks, a small rucksack and loads of optimism. Within 3 hours my socks were saturated, the cardboard insoles corrugated and I was well on the way to developing a massive blister on the centre of my foot. After 3 days I was desperate, the villages were small, there was no chance of getting a pair of socks let alone an insole here. Listing heavily to one side and in constant pain I remember crying out “God I really need help here !”
Worried about the walk the next day over mountains, I barely looked up as I stumbled to the outskirts of the village I would be staying in. Suddenly my attention was drawn to a pair of Meindl boots sitting on a concrete bollard. Examining them closer I noticed they were brand new, my size and even better than that were the recommended 1 size larger too. Damn I was envious they even had high ankle supports perfect for the loose striated rock tomorrow. I examined the bushes in case I was robbing a poor pilgrim and thought I`ll bring them into the village perhaps somebody has lost them.
Nobody ever claimed them and as I sat nursing a well earned beer
(there will be a lot of that in this blog) I remembered the words of the first pilgrim I met and walked with. He was a missionary priest who had started his Camino in Belgium. He told me “every time he needed a pair of shoes, a pair of shoes were waiting for him”. The shoes were a God-send, I managed the next day and as soon as I came to a large town bought 2 pairs of the most expensive hiking socks and insoles I could find. I carried the boots for a couple of days but had a nagging feeling I should leave them for somebody else. Its the reason why I am calling my blog “Spiritual Feet” its sort of a homage to my first experience.
Since then I have completed a number of Camino Frances, the Camino El Norte, the Camino Portuguese and found as tough as some of them were I have always come away having learnt something, that people are truly amazing, legs come in all shapes and sizes, butts too ! nature is truly incredible, even bed bugs, anything ugly is usually man made, Spain has no toilet paper and Oh Yes, lest I forget my feet are quite important too !!! I must admit before I started walking I had never taken much notice of them. By the end my brain was in my feet and they were chattering away. I guess when you have been ignored for so long, you have lots to say !
I know La Via De La Plata will be challenging but the rewards will be great too. I hope you join me on my journey and if you are the owner of those boots, well I hope you understand “the boss was just looking after me !”