Bucket / F*#K It

I am working through my bucket list – that compilation of desire and ego. It was a less wise me that made the list. It has everything from the pretentious to the downright foolish. But a list is a list and unless checked off can haunt a person with OCD. The itch was becoming unbearable. Playing mas in Trinidad was the last thing I ticked off and that was a few years back. Halfway through Carnival Tuesday I remember thinking I should convert the bucket list into the f*#k-it list. What was a middle-aged, over weight, entirely too sober person doing trying to chip down the road when all around me were simulated sex scenes worthy of the best the porn industry offers? And don’t ask how I know that.

Still the list haunted me. One particularly treasured and distant desire was to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostella. It was a safe addition to the list. When would I, mother of demanding teenage boys, ever get away for long enough to go to the bathroom alone much more have time for days or even weeks of walking? Then suddenly life changed. Instead of wanting to get away from the boys, the boys wanted to get away from us. They declared they were off to Spain in July to attend Spanish language classes and would be gone for three weeks. I tried the “who do you think is going to pay for that” line. They knew the hollowness of that threat. Grandma and grandpa are wrapped around their pinkie fingers and of course would cough up. I tried the “you’ll miss me.” Nada. I tried “you’ll miss daddy.” Smirk. “You’ll miss the dogs.” At least this extracted a brief hesitation swiftly followed by a chorus of “Vamos!”. Undaunted I appealed to self-preservation. You might be attacked, mugged by vile strangers. My tall, athletic sons laughed in my face. Avila, the small, walled city they are heading to, is home to the police academy and crime is low.

Then it occurred to me. If they can go to Spain then so can I. And I’m taking The Husband. We can leave home too. Tomorrow, on my 49th birthday, I will arrive in Sarria where my Camino begins the walk into my 50th year.

I have been so caught up in the symbolism and sense of destiny of the Camino that I forgot one incy-wincy detail. You can slice it and dice it and add cherries on top but it is still a long walk. Of course each Camino is personal. My chosen Camino is just over 100km - the distance necessary to legitimately claim the “compostela”. If you are Catholic this gives absolution. Atheists can still get a compostela but its sort of third party confirmation of walking the walk after all the big talk.

Most, knowing a long walk of up to 20km each day lies ahead, might consider, perhaps walking a little bit before. Build up stamina. This week I was hiding in a corner cutting my finger nails to the quick when The Husband found me.
‘Why are you cutting your nails so short?’
‘For the Camino.’ I said trying to root out a rough edge. ‘I won’t have time to keep them manicured.’
He stepped back, arms folded.
‘So let me get this straight. Your sole preparation for the Camino has been cutting your nails?’
Point taken.

Since then, out of shame and fear, I have done three walks of between 70 – 115 minutes. The walks have been ok but the bone tiredness and deep aches in re-awakened muscles that followed each of these outings has been a reality check. How am I to cover 20km a day after day after day? But it is too late to back out now. Walking shoes and bits of gear have been bought and packed. Even worse I will have witnesses to my demise as a couple of equally deranged friends are joining us.

I’ll write about it along the way – if I can lift my hands each night to tap on the keys. Now for one last check if I have packed enough blister plasters and ibuprofen.

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