T minus 1 week to my camino.

Today marks exactly one week before I leave on my adventure. It’s really hitting home how much I have left to do. Though much of my pack is done, there is still a lot to organise around the house, administration, home redecorating etc.  I had wanted to throw a lot of things out (ie. declutter) but as I look around the place, I can still see I am “struggling” with it.  I find decluttering hard, mainly because it involves so many individual decisions. Still, when I think of how much I’ve gotten through so far, I think it’s still pretty good.

Hubs was packing for his flight. It’s the reason why my trip is delayed, as we couldn’t both be away at the same time. I’m doing some tidy-up of my pack, going through all my camino clothes and putting it in the wash.  It’ll probably be the last time they get machine washed.  After this, it is hand washing in all sorts of detergent, including shower gel.

I had been away in New Forrest last weekend and I took my clothes for a trial run. It’s good I did that. I realised I do not have a system for packing and as a result, I’ve left my charger at home. I managed to survive, thanks to housemates who had the iPhone charger but it’s a small lesson. Things that you don’t want to leave behind, are easily left behind.

So here’s a (sorta) list of what’s been floating about in my head.

1.  Do a packing checklist.

2.  Create a packing system.  I’m buying 2 more small dry sacks.  Counting bags (easier to remember), than lots of smaller little items. So I’m off to Cotswold Outdoors to buy the items for my new system. Rather than have everything in teeny sandwich bags, I need to put them in individual colour coded bags so it’s easy to see and easy to count.

3.  Euros.  After some research, I’ve opted for a euro currency card with chip and pin. Hubs will keep loading up when I run low. Lucky me. The first test will be taking out cash at an ATM, but I’ll go to France with some cash so that i have a back up. British pound is quite strong at the minute- around 1.35 euros to the pound, depending on how much you purchase, of course.

Thank goodness for consolidator sites like Money Supermarket. Saved me heaps of time researching individual companies.  I did visit the banks but was very surprised they did not provide travel currency services other than travellers cheque (so old-fashioned) and outright cash (at highway robbery exchange rates).  Plenty of unexpected companies provide travel currency with chip and pin, most backed by Mastercard. In the end, I went with Caxton FX.  They had the best exchange rates and I could easily navigate their website.

4.  Daily budget.  ……..  Nahhhhh.  Thought about this, and then decided to leave it.  This is about the cheapest way I have ever travelled.  I’m not putting additional burdens on myself by setting expectations that I must stay in a donativo every night.  If it happens to be that that’s the choice I make every day, then so be it.  But I want that choice to be I want to, not I have to.  So often, I make decisions based on how much money I will save and I’m just really not wanting to get into that mindset.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not irresponsible about money and I don’t want to be.  But I really much prefer the empowered existence of doing something because I get to experience something new, I meet different people, I try new things, I eat new things, I expand my comfort, I simplify my life etc.  Any experience. But not, it’s the cheapest accommodation around.  This is not judgment of others who do it this way.  All I’m saying is – I want to get the intention right.

5.  Check accommodations.  Thank goodness for Booking.com and Free Cancellation.  I went back into my dashboard to rebook and cancel accommodations again.  I’m sure the Gite Azkorria in St Jean Pied de Port must be totally bored by now.  I had booked one night in Bayonne, and then planned to catch the early train into St Jean Pied de Port and then spend the day exploring, departing the next day.  However, the refugio in Orisson just got back to me and said they had vacancy on the first day, but not the next.  So plans have changed.  I will still train it into St Jean, have lunch, do some quick exploring, and then climb the mountain to Orisson.  A bit disappointed that I don’t get to spend the whole day in St Jean.  I will miss the experience of excitement amongst peregrinos the evening before a big journey.  But hey ho, “every night can be exciting because it’s the night before the day where something extraordinary is going to happen”.

Okay. I must remember that.

What I’m really glad is, I am not having to climb 22 km to Roncevalles in one go, because I think that would be physically tough on my knees.

Focussing on need, not want.

6.  Remind Son how great he is.  I am very proud of Son. He’s been very supportive on my trip, especially since he is doing his GCSEs.  If I was Tiger mom, I would be making him suck on ginseng every day, eat pig’s brains for added intelligence and drink Brand’s Essence of Chicken every evening.  Heck, I wouldn’t even be on hiking trip.  But I’m not Tiger mom.

Truth is, Son is very capable and knows what he needs to do for his studies.  He has everything he needs, and everything he needs is inside him.  In terms of powerful statements, this, for me, is one. I re-learnt this recently – re-remembered it, re-believed in it, became present to it.  Imagine if all of us treated others this way – treated them big, instead of small – capable, instead of incapable.  This is a filter of life. You get what you see. 

Having said that, I’ve been using this time to remind him that he knows how to cook simple meals. Son knows how to cook, but tends not to because Hubs and I cook and do the shopping all the time.  Think he has less confidence shopping.  And also, he gets cozy once he gets home and doesn’t want to go out.  Like a cat, he just wants to lounge at home.  (Can’t blame him.  I just want to lounge at home too, once I get into my PJs.)  Tonight, Son cooked Ma Po Tofu (with some help and guidance from me). I’m giving him tips on simple meals to cook and how to “mix and match” the dishes to build his confidence and imagination about meal planning.

7.  Paperwork.  Every household has paperwork. Insurance, holidays, council taxes, blah, blah, blah.  I just have to get these in an ordered state and into a holding pattern to cover the period I am away. I don’t like personal paperwork.  It can linger on my desk for years.  I never give it the priority it deserves.  I suspect many other people are the same.  It just always feels tedious.  Time for a personal breakthrough – when I get back, of course. 🙂

(No, no, no.  I am not procrastinating.  ….  Really, I am not.)

8.  Digital entertainment.  Hubs says I really won’t have time for this – to read my Kindle books, audio books or watch movies.  But I’d really like to buy them so that I can listen or watch them when I am walking or having downtime.  There’s a few things on my wish list. Many people have said that I should be listening to the birds, and totally shutting off the digital devices.  Don’t know if I can completely cut myself off.  Is it an addiction?  I think I’d like to know that I have a selection of things I could be doing if I want to shut myself away from everyone else.  And anyway, I have this habit of taking too many books with me on holidays that I can read. It comes from the habit of thinking that I can do so much more than I physically can do within the allotted time.  Actually, I really do believe I will get through it all.  I just often think I have more time than I do.

We think we have more time than we have.  

This is a very interesting thing to ponder on, is it not?  How much time do we really have?

There’s a saying attributed to Ghandi.  “Live as if you’ll die tomorrow, Learn as if you live forever.”  I think this is a good formula.  Do you?