Preparing for Camino – Part 1

As with any significant undertaking, planning and preparation helps increase the odds of a desirable outcome. Planning and preparing for a Camino has basic commonalities with other travel adventures, but it does involve its own unique dimensions (if so chosen).

Our Camino planning and preparation can be considered in several categories.

  1. Awareness and understanding of the Camino journey and experience.
  2. Equipping oneself with the right gear for such a hike.
  3. Physical preparation of one’s own bodily endurance, stamina and strength.
  4. Mental preparation, including picking up Spanish.
  5. Planning the travel, transportation, accommodation options.

There’s so much resources and content on the Net, that spending a few hours and several days/weeks, will richly arm one with information of the Camino. Here I would share the two Net resources that proved most invaluable to me. First is a UK blog-forum that has literally hundreds and thousands of postings from hikers and pilgrims over the years, organized by trails and other subject areas.  I learned so much from the selfless sharing, about items to pack, about the optimal weight to carry (10% of body weight), about the trade offs between hiking boots, hiking shoes, trail shoes, etc. The various ways to prevent and address blisters. The alberques to avoid. Learnings, mistakes, tips from seasoned Camino peregrines who have walked several times on various trails. There’s no better resource for someone who wants to understand how to plan and prepare for the Camino.

The second online resource is the various blogs written by the various hikers/pilgrims. Each blogger has their own distinctive style and perspective. All have pictures along the trail, and thus, one does get a good picture of the Camino journey. I was struck by one blogger who took pictures of rain drops on flowers/plants. What beauty that can only be seen when one slows down, and seeks such around us. Several of the previously mentioned UK blog-forum posters have indicated their own personal blogs in their signature line, and the blog-forum administrator, Leslie had compiled a short list of blogs in 2015 –

We intend to blog about our Camino, but will likely have a different take/slant to most. Thus, this blog itself is the first step to familiarize ourselves with this media, and more importantly, to help us build our own individual ‘voice’.

For me, the FUN & ENJOYABLE part of reading all this Camino content, is the beginning visualization of what the Camino is about. Building the anticipation. How I will enjoy the scenery, the slow pace of walking and being in the moment. Being un-plugged from all the distractions and electronic devices that’s part of modern life. Being dis-engaged from the need to know the latest real time news. Just being alone with my thoughts, having deep conversations with my partner Joon, and engaging with other fellow hikers/pilgrims that cross our paths. Of course, I am sure there will be moments (hours?) of discomfort and pain as we trudged on. But mentally, attitude-wise, I view it as just being in touch with my body. Understanding what my body is capable of, and having the certainty of a good rest/sleep at the end of the day.

Stephen Covey’s second habit of highly effective people is ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. That every physical creation, every manifestation starts first in the mind before it comes into being. In that way, part of our preparation will happen on the trail itself, not at home. When we dialog about our intent for that day, prior to starting off. Perhaps a relationship aspect that needs to be deepened/strengthened. Perhaps creating a new shared dream or goal. Perhaps reflecting and being thankful for our shared journey to date. What a wonderful thought, that the day’s walk can lead to a burst of re-creation, of positivism charging through and energizing our full selves – bodies, soul and spirit. Truly a ‘journey within’ to live life as fully as possible.

Buen Camino.


3/22/18 update. For American pilgrims, there’s an association web site with lots of materials and resources –    This same association hosts a very active Facebook group among American Camino walkers/pilgrims at 


Making the Camino Decision

There are as many decision triggers for walking the Camino, as there are hikers, cyclists and pilgrims that have undertaken this journey. One trigger that’s common, is the 2010 movie, The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emillio Estevez.

We knew our good friend, Sim had walked it in 2016. As Catholics, we had come across this before but I had never seriously looked into it. Then, in the summer of 2017, our friends Meg and Shawn, who lived in Barcelona but were back for the summer, asked whether we would be interested in joining their parish group visiting Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. We declined due to our travel schedules to Asia.

Like all good ideas, it percolated and bubbled. Then one day, I decided to start reading about it on the Net. And the more I read, especially the posts and sharing on a Camino UK blog, the more it drew me in. Eventually, we discussed doing this Camino and Fatima as a pilgrimage in 2018, and we both enthusiastically embraced it. We subsequently borrowed the DVD, The Way. In addition, we read several books, and everything solidified the decision.

Our reading list includes:

  • In movement, there is peace – Elaine & Joseph Foster
  • Field of Stars – Kevin A Codd (author is a Catholic priest in Spokane WA)
  • I’m off then – Hape Kerkeling (just started on this book)

To sum it up, we decided to walk the Camino:

  • To nourish and enrich our spiritual life.
  • To seek God in the people and events that will unfold.
  • To strengthen the bonds between us.
  • To experience a pilgrimage with our feet.

IMHO, any reason or motivation is a good one, as many have testified that the Camino experience has changed their outlook, their approach to life. The pilgrims/peregrine say, the “Camino provides”.

Buen Camino.



For me, going to walk the Camino seems to be like going on a grand adventure! When the idea first percolated, I obviously had no idea what I was signing up for… sure, traveling to Portugal and Spain fits me perfectly. I do love to see different countries, experience different ways of life and all that, but walking hundreds of kilometers with my own backpack no less, kinda brought me back to reality a little. But, what is life if one doesn’t challenge oneself and do things one might never have a chance to do again? Still, I must admit I do have reservations…

Firstly, I don’t really enjoy hiking all that much. Uphill treks are the worst, I do NOT like climbing hills and with a backpack, I will be complaining all the way. Seriously, our ‘pristine’ 33 year marriage might be ending on the Camino. Sigh. Anyway, I am willing to give it a try with as much grace as I can. I suppose I could limit myself to whining only once a day.

Secondly, I am such a worrier and I will imagine all sorts of scenarios that can happen (and probably will) … getting lost, getting sick, getting injured. Surrendering to the will of God is probably the wisest thing to do in these circumstances and that’s what I’ll have to learn to do.

Thirdly, the accommodations along the way will be ‘rustic’ I gather, and what is worrisome (ah, that word again!) is that we probably need to have good rest and sleep nightly in order to successfully complete the daily journey. And I already know I don’t really sleep well in unfamiliar surroundings, unlike my dear other half who can drop off to sleep in a wink of an eye (yes, even sitting upright!). Me, I have to toss and turn, mind racing all the time, willing myself to sleep while being totally  envious on  hearing the sonorous deep breaths of my beloved. I look forward to being so very tired after a day of walking that I won’t care if my bed is just a thin mattress.  See, I am already becoming a more positive person!

So yes, I have my reservations but ultimately, I am positive that what we achieve out of this experience will be a deeper, fuller understanding of self, our relationship with each other and most importantly, with God. I have always pondered the question,  ‘Why am I on this Earth?’  I may never find my answer, but I would sure like to try to find out. Doing the Camino is my one step in that direction.

Buen Camino.


Camino de Santiago

This was popularized among Americans by the 2010 movie, ‘The Way’, directed, produced and written by Emilio Estevez and starring his father Martin Sheen. We heard of it years ago, but it first came onto our radar when my best friend, Sim, mentioned he walked it in 2016. But the trigger for us to consider it, was when our friends, Meg and Shawn, invited us to visit Fatima in October 2017 with their church group, for Fatima’s 100th anniversary. So the seed for a pilgrimage was planted and germinated.

As we started considering Fatima in our travel plans, the brain worked mysteriously and associated the Camino de Santiago. I came across a wonderful Camino UK blog, and the many postings by hikers and pilgrims shaped and solidified our thoughts and plans in this area. We decided to make the Camino de Santiago the focal point of our pilgrimage, with a pre-Camino visit to Fatima.

There are as many reasons to walk the Camino as there are hikers/pilgrims (277.7K in 2016). For us, it’s part of our ‘journey within’, seeking to elevate our spiritual self, and strengthening our bonds. I personally expect that I will learn to listen more, learn to see beyond the surface, and to fine tune some of my deepest convictions and values as they are challenged on the trail.

For those wishing to prepare spiritually, Sandy Brown had three inspiring posts at this blog page.

Our Camino walk will be in May 2018. But the preparation has started and will continue before we board our flights.