Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy to be Tourogrinos!!

First posted on amawalker.blogspot.com

Having walked long Camino routes in 2002 , 2004, 2007 and 2009 (with a long Via Francigena trek to Rome in 2006)  I think I've earned my stripes as a 'real' pilgrim.  I've had horrible blisters, black toe nails, aching back, bursitis, worn out shoes, gypo tummy and a funny summer tan.  And, I've tried to encourage hundreds of others to have the same experience!  I've organised Regional St James Feast Days since 2003, annual practical pilgrim workshops for hundreds of wanna-be peregrinos since 2004.  I've trained 26 South African pilgrims to be hospitaleros and they are serving on the various Caminos right now.
I've queued day after day with all the other 'real' pilgrims for a bed, for the loo, a shower and a wash tub to wash my clothes. I've slept on the floor on numerous occasions and have eaten frugal meals and gone to bed hungry.
Like any 'real' pilgrim, I've slept in up-market, college-dorm-like pilgrim hostels, and in basic shelters with no beds, no electricity, running water or toilets.  I've worked as a hospitalera in a 20 bed pilgrim albergue, scrubbing floors, showers, and loos and cooking meals for pilgrims every night.   Over the years I have evovled as a pilgrim.

In 2002 my backpack weighed over 12 kg. I sent 3kg on to Santiago after three days walking and struggled on with a 9kg pack. I swore never to carry such a heavy load again. In 2004 my pack weighed 7kg and I still got bursitis swellings on my collar bones and aching feet at night.

By 2006 (on the Via Francigena) I managed to get the pack down to 6kg. By 2007 it was down to 5kg and that's where it stays. No luxuries, no perfumes, no day-night creams, just 2 shirts, 2 shorts, 3 panties, bras and socks. Everything lightweight, wash 'n wear.

Now, in 2011, I'll be doing a completely different Camino, as a touro-grino! Tourogrinos are those people you see walking with little daypacks while their large pack is transported from one place to the next. I'll be sending ahead a nifty little 20 litre Sea-to-Summit pack that will carry all the paperwork, guide books etc needed for a group of 15 pilgrims. 

Tourogrinos can't stay in traditional albergues because they have their backpacks transported.  They have to stay in small hotels, inns, casas, pensions and private albergues.
They book these ahead of time which means that they don't have to scramble for accommodation, especially in the height of the summer crowds. They sleep in a bedroom (instead of a dormitory) in a bed (instead of a bunk), with sheets, blankets and pillows (instead of a sleeping bag). They have a bath or shower en suite (most of the time).
Even though I know that I might still have horrible blisters, black toe nails, aching back, bursitis, worn out shoes, gypo tummy and a funny summer tan, I  am really looking forward to this new Camino experience. I'm looking forward to sleeping in late and having a leisurely breakfast.
I'm looking forward to ambling along the paths, stopping for tea, taking time over lunch, maybe enjoying a siesta under a tree if it is a hot day; having time to wait for a church or museum to open or doing a detour off the Camino path - all because I know that there is a bed waiting for me at the end of the day.  I might even send my pack ahead on some sections. Whoopee! I'll be able to pack a few extras this time! Shampoo AND soap instead of an all-in-one body, hair and clothes wash. I might pack a little number for evening meals!  Wow - imagine that!! Its going to be a very different Camino experience for me.
I anticipate a few disapproving looks and maybe even a few disparaging comments from the first-timer, pilgrim fundamentalist! But, hey - I think I can live with those!
Most of all, on this Camino I'm looking forward to walking with a wonderful group of like-minded people who are all just as excited about this Camino as I am. We are going to take our time, share good food and wine, go on a few side trips - lunch at a typical Basque restaurant in St Jean, visit the castle at Clavijo, Las Medulas World Heritage site and watch the sun go down over the Atlantic at Finsiterre snacking on a basket of Galician Regional pinchos and wine - what a pleasure!!  I can't wait! 


emilene said...

Sil - I LOVE this new blog! Your 'followers' function was on the blink so I could not sign up but will keep checking it.

All the best for this new adventure, I can't wait to read all the updates!

Buen camino to you all!

Pilgrim Nell said...

Hey Sil,
It's going to be great. I just walkedthe Wicklow Way 2 weeks ago with a friend who insisted that she had 'Sherpa' service. OMG Sil it's fantastic and it makes such a difference to the general level of stiffness and soreness. I'm not ashamed to say I threw twice as much stuff as I needed into the case that we used just for the hell of it! If I were you I'd take two pretty dresses, a wrap and some perfume as well....you may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb after all:)

Annie said...

Sil, how'd that Seat to Summit Nysil pack work out for you?