The Camino de Santiago is not like the ATC or PCT or any sort of long-distance hike in the US. Actually, I wouldn’t consider it a hike. It is a long-distance walk. For the Catholic religious, a holy pilgrimage whereby you earn half off your time in purgatory. For other Christians, it is also a holy pilgrimage without the purgatory reward. And for the non-Christians, agnostics, and atheists, I would suggest it is a meditative walk and perhaps even a pilgrimage since the route was used by the Celts on pilgrimage to Finisterre long before Christianity arrived on the Iberian peninsula. They went to shed their old life and be reborn in the sea.
With this in mind, the landscape is simultaneously transient/transcendental pilgrim, natural areas, and working rural/urban Spain, with a lot of historical buildings, infrastructure, and locations built in. Towns, villages, and cities have developed industries that provide for pilgrims as they journey. So, unlike the ATC or PCT you don’t need to bring your own tent, cookware, food for more than a day, etc. You can, but you don’t have to.
A lot of pilgrims learn the hard way that they carry too much baggage – literally and figuratively. The first time I did the Camino Frances, I had a large backpack filled with stuff I thought I’d need for my year of traveling abroad. I did end up using everything in the bag, but for the pilgrimage walk I moved about 15 pounds of the 40+ I carried to the top and that was all I used. Between that year of traveling, and extensive fieldwork in Africa that followed, I’ve learned to pack lots lighter.
One of my friends in Colorado always marvels at how little I pack. The reality is that you can buy pretty much anything these days on the road. (Although finding dental floss in Europe is really difficult for some reason – but not in SE Asia or southern Africa.) Here you go E.:
I bought my backpack as a birthday present this year. It weighs 1.1 kg and has a space of 26.5 cubic liters. My pack currently weighs ~20 lbs total, but this will decrease as I walk. I have packed stuff that will get used up like toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, tissues, etc. Here are the contents:
I forgot to take out my rain poncho – Galacia in NW Spain can be rainy. It is bright orangey-yellow. There are also some hidden things in the photo. My underwear is stacked, I have a pair of sleep socks between my green shirt and pj bottoms, and the first aid kit contains a bunch of odds and ends that don’t really fit anywhere else. The Chewbacca change purse can be pinned to the inside of my clothes and keeps my money/credit card safe. My passport is pinned elsewhere.
You might notice that R2D2 is coming along. I think it might be fun to photograph him. Also, despite any loose screws, he always seems to come through in a tight fix. He, like me, enjoys cussing – it’s true, every line he uttered in all the movies and cartoons has been bleeped out. It’s too bad we don’t have time to visit Sevilla in Andalusia. I could photograph him back in Theed at the Plaza de España.