Oh my goodness, the countdown in the sidebar has turned from days to hours.
I’ve had the surprise farewell party, complete with ‘Buen camino’ cake (thanks Kim). I’ve been given the T-shirt (thank you Hens for this very thoughtful gift). I have walked my last practice walk with my great friend Renate. I have pored over my packing list, adding and subtracting along the way. I have downloaded all the GPS tracks I will walk along onto the ‘wikiloc’ app on my iPhone (I just hope the people who posted them didn’t get lost!). I have done all the gardening and pulled as many weeds as I could cope with (and that leaves many more that will continue to grow until I return). I have given David watering instructions. I am about to repack my backpack for the final time and have all my toys on charge.
Next stop, the church of Santiago in Calle Granada, Málaga, at 7:30 in the morning where I will meet my walking partner for the first time, have a quick coffee before the church opens its doors at 8:00 am and we can receive the first stamp in our pilgrims’ passports (actually, for me it will be the second stamp – my first was from the townhall in Canillas de Albaida this morning). And then we are on our way. First stop Almogía, an easy 22 km for the first day.
The Camino Mozárabe has four starting points. Almería, Granada, Jaen, and Málaga. As I live so close to Málaga, I wanted to walk from home, and have made the delightful walk from my front door to Málaga in three stages over the last few weeks. The route from Málaga meets up with the other routes just before Córdoba, and then continues north-westward to Mérida, where it joins with the Via de la Plata (which starts in Seville) and continues to Santiago de Compostela.
There are a few imponderables about this journey…
- Will I make it in one go? It is an awfully long way – 1,200 km, which will take six to seven weeks to walk. Last year I was ready for home after four weeks. So I am keeping an open mind – I would most definitely like to keep going to Santiago, but if I feel I have had enough half way through, I won’t beat myself up about it, I will come home and start again from where I left off in the autumn.
- Will I get on with my walking partner? I was very glad to find someone to walk with as the camino Mozárabe from Málaga, or from any of the starting points, is not well trodden, and I would not expect to meet many, if any, fellow pilgrims before joining the VdlP at Mérida. We have not yet met, although we have corresponded a fair bit through one of the pilgrim forums. But it was the same situation last year with Eli, and we stayed together for three weeks. It will be great if we get on and stick together, but if not, then we will have some company for the first day or so, which will be a boost for both of us.
- Although I am not sure that I will be able to walk all 1,200 km in one go, I would ideally like to carry on after Santiago to Finisterre – another 100 km, so that I have walked ‘from sea to shining sea’.
And there are lots of things I know for sure…
– It will be hard
– I will hurt – all over
– I will be too hot, or too cold, or too wet
– The beds will be uncomfortable and creaky and I will worry about bed bugs
– When I reach the busier stretch of the camino the mixed dormitories of the albergues will be full of champion snorers
But on the other hand…
– I will be amazed at all the beautiful spring sights that I will only see by walking
– I will meet amazing people from all corners of the world (a bit like Cómpeta!)
– I will rejoice in the sunrise that I never see at home
– The hurting will cease in a couple of weeks and I will just feel exhausted at the end of the day
– I will feel a sense of achievement almost every day
– I will enjoy reading all the lovely encouraging comments on my blog, although I might not have time to reply to them all
– I will hopefully have lost all the weight I have put on over the last few months (and maybe a bit more too)
– I will be an emotional wreck when I reach the cathedral at Santiago – a mixture of euphoria at having reached my goal and sadness that another camino is over
I am leaving my garden at its most beautiful and fragrant – the two wisterias are dripping with blooms, the jasmine is full of flower and the irises and osteospermums that have spread all around the garden are full of vibrant colour that and even a dull day can’t disguise. But the wild spring flowers I will pass by on my walk will go a long way towards recompense.
So it just remains to clear the decks of the remnants of my packing – although I’m not sure I will recognise the bedroom chest without all its camino clutter.
I know you will all wish me luck and I thank you in anticipation of your support over the next couple of months. And I want to say a special huge THANK YOU to David for all his help and encouragement.