“It is a monastic life. You wake up, you walk. When you arrive, you take care of your feet, you take care of your basic needs, and you eat. Do it day after day, and it becomes a meditation.”
These were the words of a wise gite host, Sylvain, in Saint-Come-d’Olt, just seven days into our first Camino walk, long before we had enough experience to understand what he meant.
You take care of your feet…
Today’s #CaminoTuesday theme is “the mundane and the everyday on the Camino de Santiago,” which I thought was a bold choice. We think more often of the magical moments, the miracles and memorable encounters and stunning sunrises. But the mundane? Well, that’s there, too.
And if you’re a Camino pilgrim, as Sylvain said, taking care of your feet becomes part of your mundane and everyday reality.
Walk into any gite or albergue along the Camino, and you’ll find pilgrims tending their feet (or, as in this photo, tending to someone else’s feet). Sit around any table of Camino pilgrims, and the conversation will eventually come around to foot care.
The advice for avoiding blisters is endless and contradictory:*
- Cover your feet in Vaseline
- Cover your feet in powder
- Wear shoes that are too big
- Make sure your shoes are never too loose
- Change your socks every hour
- Find the perfect pair of socks and never take them off
- Ice your feet every night
- Soak your feet in every stream
- Wear two pair of socks
- Don’t wear socks; walk in Chacos
- Use Compeed
- Don’t use Compeed; let blisters breathe.
- Tuck sanitary napkins into your shoes to soak up sweat (no really, I know someone who did this)
Some of it helped. Most of it didn’t. I’m no expert on what works for blisters—I suffered tendonitis and heel spurs rather than blisters, but regardless, I have never paid so much attention to feet—my own or certainly anyone else’s—in my life as I did on the Way of Saint James.
What I learned from this attention?
What works for someone else won’t always work for you.
Pay attention to your body.
Take it slow.
And always appreciate the mundane. Do it day after day, and it becomes a meditation.
* This is all actual advice I found when searching “foot care” in the American Pilgrims on the Camino Facebook group.