Camino Countdown: 193 days!!

Another week has passed as we countdown the days until Scout, Ana and I take our first steps on the Camino Frances out of St. Jean and on our 800km (500 mile) trek across Spain for the first or second time.

This week has been exciting in our Camino prep….

Yesterday I confirmed our Shuttle from Biarritz to St. Jean.  I took this shuttle last time and it was a no hassle, no worry, way to get myself from a little french airport to St. Jean.  Last time though I didn’t get into Biarritz until fairly late in the afternoon so by the time I got to St. Jean I really needed to hustle to get my pilgrim passport and get to my albergue in time for dinner.  This time, we fly from Berlin in the morning and our shuttle will pick us up at 10:30am and we will get to St. Jean in plenty of time to explore a bit.  I am really excited about this. I remember being so scared that I really couldn’t take in the cute town of St. Jean.  This time I will be so excited that I will want to explore before we take off the next morning.

ALSO, big news, I picked out my shoes so I can start training.  I really struggle in Germany with the lack of what I would call customer service. Customer service is thought of differently here.  Either it isn’t a thing or Germans really think that in order to give the customer a better experience they should have lots of space.  Ana and I went to a few outdoor stores recently and I was so overwhelmed with new brands of shoes and the amount of input. In a moment of frustration I exclaimed, “I just wish I was at REI where someone who worked there would tell me which shoe to try on and would spend time with me.”  We both kind of chuckled thinking that wouldn’t happen.

But then I went to this amazing store (kind of far away on public transit but worth it) called Globetrotter. A friend here said I would feel just like home when I entered and when I did enter this huge outdoor store I felt like a kid in a candy shop. For a brief moment in time, I could feel the Pacific Northwest in the Patagonia and sleeping bag displays.  I made my way to the hiking shoe area and started to look around.  The German employees watched me wander and try on shoes. No one asked me if I needed anything. After about 20 minutes of randomly trying on shoes, I approached a store employee who had been kind of watching me, a nice German man about my age with a nametag that said, “Benjamin.”  I asked if we could speak English…he said, “yes, of course.”  I told him my woes of blistering so badly in my last boots as I hiked across Spain.

Ben, I asked if I could call him that, took in all the information and thought for a minute and said, “Ah yes, this shoe over here will be the one.” Very German…very methodical with an end right conclusion.  He went to fetch my size and brought a size too big. I tried it on.  I told him my size again and asked if I could try another shoe in the same brand, a German brand.  He went to fetch the next one. I asked for a half boot.  He dutifully went off again.  We tried on shoes, it was now a “we” project in my mind, and walked the little ramp and jammed my toes or tried to against the shoe…we did this for close to 40 minutes and found the perfect shoe. Halfway through our time I realized that Ben was asking questions about the Camino…what I imagined as an interview all of a sudden hit me…he was genuinely curious and interested! Win! We were connecting!  I made a joke and he replied, “ha.” Another win!

I thanked him profusely and he smiled widely because I walked away to order my perfect shoe…of course the exact one I wanted wasn’t in the perfect size in store.

BUT MY SHOES ARE ON THEIR WAY!  And they are German too which I think is perfect for this Camino as I leave from Germany to Spain to walk.

Scout texted me last night that her training walks are going well! She has been walking for 5 miles the past couple of days with pack on…wow!! Amazing!

This has been a good week for pilgrims!


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