Just returned from the Camino. Advice to others 60+ years
Not really a question, but some good advice from a pilgrim that has just returned from the Camino (May 2013):
Well that was an experience of a lifetime and something nobody who seriously wants to do the Camino should turn from.
Was it difficult? Not overly so.
Sure there were days when I was tired, hot, wet, had sore feet and on onew occassion had a honking great blister that put me off the road for a day, but if you are even moderately in shape, and remember you are not in a race, and do only what you are capable of doing per day, you will have the time of your life!
I did not start as a pilgrim, but I ended up as a person who firmly believes that Christianity is alive and well in people who walk the Camino and that God is great, and I do not mean that in a great religious type of way, with visions, or Halleluja choruses echoing through the land, He just is great and exists. ( I still swear like a trooper when things go wrong btw)
I left St Jean Pied de Port on 6 April and arrived in Santiago on 12 May. I left on my own and met dozens of the best people I have ever met in my life. I laughed more heartily than I have done in many years, I learned that charity between friends is invaluable, I have dozens of Facebook friends thanks to the Camino, all of whom I would welcome to my home, I saw the beauty of Spain, the wonders of large cities, the delights of tiny villages, heard cuckoos calling, cows mooing and sheep bleating, and smelt for days, dung and slurry that was being spread on fields. I never heard a cross word, or felt that I was ripped off in any way,in fact I had people track me down if I had over paid. Not once did I see see a police car with its siren sounding, nor fear anything untoward was possible.
I had a Rastafarian Russian surf board instructor fellow Caminoist (that is a story in its self!) tend, with care and tenderness to a bad blister I developed, and he used up his own precious first aid kit helping me and gave me a great pair of socks, a man, a month before I would never have dreamt of even speaking with. Now I know I could trust him completely.
The food was first class, the albergues were better than I imagined they would be, the whole exercise was cheaper than I thought, and I did not want to come back home at the end of it.
Yes you will experience challenges such as loosing your underwear inexplicably, finding you have adopted someone elses socks and sweating like a pig, but it is only underwear and I feel the benefit of losing 28 lbs to the point I now take two steps before my pants start to move, but I also lived amongst men and women from their 20s to their 80s who were a joy to be with and shared happiness and stories. I had no trouble sleeping and no trouble getting up in the morning. I soon got used to having a shower with a woman in the stall next to me. Inserting earplugs at night was just as natural as brushing my teeth, and I missed nothing of the creature comforts of home, what ever that may have meant.
If you want the time of your life, if you want to learn something incredible, if you want to see something fresh and with a different outlook on life, travel the Camino, and dont worry about the little things. You dont need peanut butter or to phone home every night. Go on, do something different. All the information about what you should do or bring is extremely well documented on this forum ten times over. Just do it. Buen Camino.
Read all the responses to advice for pilgrims over 60 in our Camino de Santiago forum.