As Mother Nature continues to wreak havoc on this part of the world, stories abound about passenger delays at bus and train stations, airports too. I see photos and watch news stories of frustrated, exhausted and sleep-deprived travelers, clasping suitcases and crying children, nearing wit’s end.
I look down at my feet, robed in wool socks, and reminisce about my own recent travels and daily encounters with Mother Nature. Sure, there was no snow, sleet or freezing rain; but I faced my share of inclement weather. Never mind, says the diehard pilgrim: Through it all – sun, rain and wind – I walked.
I gave up on my hiking boots after the first few days, my feet showing premature signs of blisteringly blue unhappiness.
With a hint of doubt, I turned instead to my barely broken-in pair of TEVA* sandals. Not sure how they would fare as an all-weather substitute, I jumped in… with both feet.If weather permitted, I wore the TEVAs barefoot. The soles of my feet were closer to touching the earth than they’d been in boots; and I felt as grounded as possible (except if I were to have walked barefoot). When the chill set in, I did the unthinkable, certainly in my niece-the-fashionista’s eyes: I Wore Socks. Yes, I did.
In early November, passing pilgrims, their heavy boots (and sometimes gaiters) laced up tight, would point to my feet with a startled look on their faces. Their faces conveyed the same, often un-articulated, question: Aren’t your feet cold?? (Either that, or: Are you crazy?)
The best answer I could muster was that my feet, though at times chilled, reddened or soaked from rain, were unaccustomed to being shackled in closed shoes; they were infinitely more content and the pain lessened if they could move more freely and BREATHE – in sandals.
Like a teenager that rebels against unreasonable constraints, my feet refused to conform to the hiking-boot norm.
So my boots remained deeply embedded in the bottom of my backpack while I gave my feet free reign. And, in the process of walking, I discovered that when Mother Nature meets TEVA + nurture, our feet will support us and take us precisely where we need to go: All the way to the end, and then right back to a beginning…
Very, very cool. Love the feet photos. And I completely get it. When I tried to imprison my feet in ‘real shoes’ back in the U.S. they put up such a squall that I, too, risked ridicule showing up with socks in my Merrells. (Each to her own brand name dropping!)
Less risky to expose myself to ridicule on the Camino (than in the urban realm); people are dressed up in all sorts of weird and wacky get-ups! I think Bali has spoiled us.. not so easy (thankfully!) to imprison ourselves or our feet anymore 😉 Can’t wait to get back into sandals.. and WALK again.
I have those same sandals I love them. Glad they got you where you needed to go.
Did they ever! I was actually surprised that they held (me) up so magnificently and for SO long 😉
Beautiful post, Amit. Reminds me of walking from Katmandu to Mt Everest many moons ago. Gave the boots away after a day and walked it in Dunlop Volley tennis shoes.. or none 🙂
Thnx Gabe. Wow, now THAT sounds like a walk for me! You’ll have to fill me in on details when I’m back in town…Still, I bet your tennis shoes were still more hardware than the sherpas were wearing – clad only in flipflops, no?!
so sweet to see the feet that took you on this amazing journey. i’ve loved following from afar!
Not usually the kind of body part one would blog about, but then again, I’m devoted to my feet 😉
Thnx for dropping by! Did you get my Wandering Shells poem & pic?
I love the feet photos! I have been eye-ing these sandals for our next camino, not sure if I will wear them everyday, but I am so happy to hear that they suited you well for the Camino Frances. While we don’t spend a lot of time blogging about our feet, it is a major conversation topic while on the camino among fellow pilgrims! happy blogging and walking!
Thanks, to you too – on the VdlPlata! I’d love to walk that one too… About the TEVAs, they were right for me in so many ways, not least of which is that they were lightweight and water-friendly 😉