The law establishes the order; a necessary order to do things right. That’s why we present you the 10 pilgrim commandments to complete the Way properly. These are not official and it’s not compulsory to follow them; however, there are points that we think can help any walker.
1. Don’t branch off: follow the arrows
Follow the yellow arrows and try not to divert. If your intention is to go out to the Way, plan accordingly. Nevertheless, if you want to walk the established route, do it! You won’t get lost but, most importantly, you won’t have to walk more miles than you should. During the walk you’ll always find locals who are used to the pilgrims and that can show you the way if you get distracted.
2. Don’t oversleep: get up early!
Pilgrims are tired and rest is fundamental, so is going to the bed soon and starting to walk early is certainly the best option. This will help you avoid the hottest hours, at midday and in the afternoon; and you’ll be able to walk in the coolest hours. Secondly, you will arrive before to the hostels, so you won’t have problems finding a bed. And lastly, the earlier that you arrive, the more rest you will get, as well as more opportunities to visit once you’re finished walking.
3. You shall drink water all the time
It is important to be hydrated. During the route you are going to lose a lot of minerals that you’ll need to recover. We highly recommend you to always carry a water bottle and to drink every 20 minutes. Drink even if you’re not thristy! It’s very common to pospone drinking water, but thrist is already a bad sign. This is one os the most important pilgrim commandments.
4. The sun is not your friend; protect your skin!
Taking care of your skin is something you should do since the beggining. Putting sunscreen before starting to walk is going to help you not to get sunburn. Keep in mind that this can also happen in winter: even if you don’t feel hot, you can burn yourself after spending many hours under the sun.
5. You shall give socks the importance they deserve
Take care of your feet; they are your most important tools! Socks are meant to protect them. If you feel chafing or reheating, change them. Your feet must be as comfortable and dry as possible or blisters and wounds (the last thing we want) will show up. Always have a pair of socks with you to be able to use them at any moment.
6. Let your feet air out: they also need to breathe
Sometimes when the pilgrims arrive in the hostels they wear closed toed shoes that feel more comfortable. That’s a mistake, as feet need to air out, breathe and dry. We recommend you that as soon as you arrive in the hostel, you have a long shower and leave your feet barefoot; the best is to put on flip flops. This is going to avoid blisters, the biggest enemies at each step.
7. You shall not wear brand new sneakers
More on feet! This is one of the most important pilgrim commandments: you should use sneakers or mountain boots that you’ve already used before. New shoes are hard and will hurt your feet. Wear shoes that you’re used to!
During the Way, your bag can be your friend or your enemy. Take the essentials; pack the stuff that you will actually use. Every gram counts. You might think that we’re making too much of it, but it’s true: once you’re walking, your back will be aware of the weight of a peanut, as it suffers a lot. Try to load it with the least possible weight.
9. You shall respect your fellow pilgrims during the night
This is one of the pilgrim commandments that affects everyone. Like we said before, resting is essential. In hostels, many people sleep together; some of them go to be late while others want to have a relaxed dinner and come back without any hurries. Everything is understandable as long as you respect the people that is sleeping.
10. Enjoy the experience!
Last but not least, there’s the 10th pilgrim commandment. You need to know that the Way to Santiago is not something easy. It is a hard experience in which you’ll have difficult and happy moments. Knowing this, we encourage you to enjoy it to the fullest, to follow the Way’s magic and to have a great time!
Text: Fátima González-Besada Gómez