Just as I had never heard of sock liners, I had never known that one could wear glove liners! Walking on the Camino, I lost a particularly dear pair of liners; they were a deep black with gold thread woven through the fabric…I know exactly where I left them! But tonight I will write not of the lost liners but of the gloves I actually bought and took with me. Because we were walking in winter, Becky recommended two types of gloves, heavy woolen ones and the even heavier ones with some kind of GoreTex fabric for snow. I ended up buying three pairs. Plus, almost as an afterthought, about the time I was to leave, Elvia handed me a pair of red flannel-lined gloves that ended up being the mainstay for most of the Camino.
Our friend Barbara Daboll came to stay in San Antonio for a few days and brought me a gift: a tiny iPod! i quickly downloaded music and thought of how I would be walking in the forest listening to Brahms! Or how I would be sitting in some cafe listening to Selena. I was feeling a bit apprehensive a year ago, only a couple of days before boarding my flight to Madrid. Barbara’s presence helped ease some of my concern about taking off and leaving Elvia behind.
But I am getting distracted. My focus was to be the gloves and the various kinds of gloves. I bought the first pair of heavy gloves in Santa Fe at the REI where I bought my boots. The gloves that Elsa or Elvia–or perhaps both of them who were helping me con mi ajuar–brought to me seemed designed for me: they were the proper light weight, fit the easily, snugly, and were the right price! But, Back in San Antonio, I went to Good Sports, the store on De Zavala, for some final items, including more moleskin as I was getting worried about blisters, I saw a sturdier pair and I opted for them instead. They appeared sturdier, more like what Becky had recommended; they had a reinforced grip. I tried on the ladies sizes and none would fit. If the length of the fingers was right, then the rest of the glove was jut too big. Conversely, if the fit around the wrist was good, the fingers were too small for my hands. Finally, a resourceful attendant, or sales clerk, suggested that I try the small man’s size. Voila! I had my gloves, and they proved to be invaluable; were it not for them, I would have had blisters on my hand from holding the walking stick. Once I had settled on the perfect pair of gloves, the clerk reminded me that I would need liners. I chose the black with gold thread because they reminded me of Michael Jackson’s famous glittery hand.
Why did we need various gloves? Certainly, on the Camino I saw folks who only had the one pair, and no liners. But, frankly, I was glad I had the various kinds of gloves for they served various purposes: the thinner wool ones were for wearing during the night or when the weather was not icy or rainy or too windy! But the other ones, the heavy duty ones of which I now had two pairs, well, that was another question: when to wear the light snow gloves and when to wear the heavy duty ones? I relied on what I just “knew” intuitively was the right level of “heavy.” Several times, I almost lost a glove; luckily Becky was walking behind me and picked them up as if they were crumbs leading her home. To her credit, she never complained about keeping my things from getting lost–one time it was my washcloth! But she did tease me about being so olvidadiza, so forgetful that I could easily forget to eat. But she kept us on a schedule in that area as well.
At several points when the weather was warming up (relatively speaking), towards the end of the Camino, I would forgo the gloves and just wear the liners, but not too often because the risk of blisters was high. Speaking of blisters, because of mole skin and the sock liners, I didn’t get a single blister during the 500 mile walk! Hard to believe? Yes, especially when I consider the many many others who wound up with the strings sticking out of the blisters to drain them. I remember an Italian young woman in particular whose blisters were so painful she struggled with every step. I am sure she will make her appearance later on in this blog.
Buying the gloves was an adventure, but the gloves–all of them–were off on a grand adventure themselves as they came with me en el Camino.
Tonight, I gave a public talk on my experience of the Camino. It offered me a space and a time to talk about what happened to me last year, to share the transformative power of the pilgrimage route, and to just be with the memories of the walk, of the ecstasy, of the usual and the unusual that I experienced during my walk along el camino de las estrellas, the path of the stars!