Blogged in January 2018

This is the collection of blogs related to my training, equipment and planning of my 2018 camino’s in January.

Today, after a morning walk of 16 km with Jake (the real Husky), JJ (my Husky mascot) and an old backpack loaded with 6 kilos, I bought my BACKPACK for my trip to Santiago de Compostela. You have to start putting it together somewhere, I do this to be the first to buy my backpack. Maybe it is too big and I take just enough with it, it can always be made smaller with the straps. Also also a walking stick packed, of course paid at the cash register.

In 2009 we went as a family on a car-pilgrimage to Fatima, Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes and Nevers. When we drove away from Santiago we saw walkers on their way to the place we had just left. Then I got the idea, together with my wife, to do this someday. At the start of 2017 this idea came to my mind again. And especially when I walked the Swentiboldmars (40 km) on Easter Saturday in 6 and a half hours. The planning began: building up holidays to walk to Santiago from my home in 3 to 4 months in 2019. Due to unforeseen circumstances, 2019 will not work and I do not want to postpone a year to 2020. So only 1 year earlier and then not from the Netherlands but South of France. And then Lourdes is a nice starting place instead of the crowds in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. But why are you going to walk and especially why such a large distance? There are people who walk more, start from their hometown to Santiago, or even from the Sint Jacobiparochie in Friesland. Why a pilgrimage? Or is it something else? A sporting holiday, not by bus, car or plane, but nice to be the means of transport yourself. Or is it an adventure to let the unknown or the unknown approach you. Of course it can also be a big surprise and you will discover that you are completely different. But why am I going then? I cannot fully answer that question now, there are several reasons for me to undertake this at the moment. Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis and you need a moment of reflection to put certain things into perspective. But the longer I think about it, the more I tend to the following: 20% believe, after all, it is an apostle of Jesus that you are heading for. 20% sportiness, after all, it is your own body that will take you somewhere step by step. 20% adventure, after all, it is a big undertaking to make a whole trip on foot (almost) without appointments and for 9 weeks not knowing where you sleep in the evening. 20% you get to know yourself (even) better, after all it is your inner voice that will ask you why you are doing this, for whom you are doing it, what you hope to achieve with it, etc. etc. etc. 20% … … .., after all, it is waiting what will happen. You read stories, watch videos on YouTube, hear stories and more. I can praise myself happily in this world, married to a sweet and caring woman, a son and a daughter who also have a good life. Work that gives great satisfaction, good health, nothing is lacking. A pet that loves everyone. What else can and do you want? Is there anything else or are there things that you overlook and you have to go back to. View and reassess matters from a distance. Who will say? My inner self, the adventures I hope to experience or the different people I will meet. Every day will be different, you will not relive a single day, not here and certainly not during the trip. If you then set off, full of anticipation of what you are looking for or think that something needs to change, but after a few days you find out that something is missing, nothing has happened, is your goal not that you can no longer achieve and that you have already achieved everything? Are you going home with a feeling of failure? I don’t think so because you had to take a step that you told this. If only I can write at the end: I am back in good health, happy to be home again and what was it ……….

It is difficult to make kilometers on workdays. In the morning you leave for work, then you first have a walk with Jake. In the evening you come home, then eat and then on the road. But while it is still dark, you do not walk so quickly through the expected hiking trails. And it is also late. So it is limited to 1, a half and 2 hours. So weekends have to be made a little more. It is also important to cover more than 20 kilometers for several consecutive days. The first opportunity will be Carnival. Then this is possible from Saturday to Wednesday, 5 days in a row. So from 9 to 13 February I will try to cover 100 kilometers with my backpack and mascot, but unfortunately without Jake. Then the Easter weekend follows, on Easter Saturday the Swentibold March, 40 kilometers. On Easter Sunday and Monday perhaps another 30 kilometers, also every day with a backpack.

If you plan to walk (or cycle) the Camino, you know what your goal will be: the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where the Holy Apostle James is buried. As a pilgrim you go on a pilgrimage to this holy place, everyone for their own reason. But to finish you have to start somewhere. This is different for everyone, or maybe not? Many depart from their place of residence, but most choose a place closer to their goal. So we too, although my first intention was to also leave from my house. Now it will be southern France for me. But the place has not yet been determined. Will it be Lourdes, Oloron Sainte Marie or Saint Jean Pied de Port? But if I want to walk something different than the busy Camino Frances, then I have to look further ……. I am thinking of Lourdes as a starting point, and then walk to Oloron Sainte Marie (in a westerly direction), then to the south cross the Pyrenees to Jaca and then in a westerly direction to Puente la Reine. Once you arrive here, you arrive on the Camono Frances highway, the busiest and perhaps best known Camino, to Santiago. It will be quiet for the first week and a half, as few take the Lourdes-Oloron-Somport-Jaca-Puente la Reine route. Time to unwind, to prepare well and to get used to walking. And then share your experiences on the Frances and hear the stories about the usual route from Saint Jean Pied de Port-Roncevalles-Pamplona. If the trip goes smoothly and there is still time left, until Maricon arrives in Sanstiago, I could still walk to the end of the world and maybe Muxia. But when Maricon is with me again, we travel by bus to Ferrol, to walk a small Camino Ingles together. Walk together and see what a sporting holiday can be like. AND whether we should do such a thing more often. Who knows, maybe we get a sporting virus called walking …

Another week passed means another week shorter at the start of the tour. Only walked 38 km in the first week of this year. In the 2nd week I came out at 51 km and this week there are 56 km. Not very much when you consider that there will be an enormous amount per week. But the longer distances now deal with the backpack. So not without it anymore, also means getting the muscles and back used to the challenge that will start this year.

Here a duo photo, find the 10 differences of my mascots. The left regularly walks the training trips with me here. If I am still in my margin in terms of backpack weight, the judge will go as a mascot on my journey to Santiago.

The day I am leaving for my starting place in Lourdes is fixed: Friday, May 11. This day will be completely in the train, because where would we be without the train? At the station … All the craziness, the journey begins with a ride to Maastricht Central, there on the train to Liège Guillemins. Transfer on the Thalys to Paris, Gare du Nord. Take the metro to Gare du Montparnasse to take a seat in the T.G.V. to Lourdes. If all goes well I will be in Lourdes before 6 pm and half an hour later at my first overnight location. Perhaps we can also join the evening procession as a spiritual preparation for the tour that starts on Saturday 12 May.

This afternoon attended a very educational meeting with my wife, organized by the Limburg branch of the Dutch Society of Saint Jacob. In Munstergeleen near Ria and Henk we and the others present received very good information about what you can and cannot take with you, what to expect en route. But what you should do above all: just let it happen, if it gets difficult Sint Jacob will help you out. So don’t do crazy things and experience everything that happens to you, be open to fellow pilgrims and the people along the route. Afterwards we visited Father Karel. We naturally went on foot to this meeting, nice training …
This week it was busy with private matters, so the working days could not always be walked. This can happen regularly, but we keep the courage (and sometimes the pace) in it. Today I walked the first day with a backpack of almost 10 kilos a distance of over 21 km. I myself thought that my pace was not high, but when I got home it turned out that my kilometer time was 10 minutes 35 seconds. So I have to slow down a bit next time. For the weekend of 2 and 3 February we will start on the Limburg part of Santiago on the Wad. Then we walk in a group and the speed will be adjusted.