Friday, 19 August 2022

Mujer vs Hombre Pilgrim % 2004 - 2022 (Jul)

This has nothing to do with my upcoming Camino walk therefore I am not breaking any posting promises made in my August 17, 2022 blog. 🙂

A very interesting shift in the makeup of Camino Pilgrims walking the various paths has steadily occurred since 2011. I thought it would be of interest to blog readers to know that Mujers have caught up and now surpass Hombres in terms of Camino Pilgrims. 

The graph below clearly shows this trend:

    - Mujers are the purple line with % shown on left hand axis

    - Hombres are the green line with % shown on left hand axis

    - Total Pilgrims are the bar graph with totals shown on right hand axis

The trend since 2011...other than COVID years 2020 & 2021 where pilgrim numbers were greatly reduced...including 2022 July to date have shown a steady yearly % increase in Mujers walking Camino paths. In 2011 42.3% were of 2022 Jul Mujers account for 52.6% of pilgrims. All numbers are from the Oficinade del Pelegrino in Santiago de Compostela.

A remarkable and positive shift for sure. I will refrain from commenting fully on the 2020/2021 temporary shift...possibly macho vs reasonableness risk tolerance came into play? 🤔

Mujer vs Hombre % 2004 - 2022 Jul

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Let’s try again - Packa Video 😂

I hope this will work and the video can be seen! Something unforeseen happened…how can that be? 😂 Who could have known that marking a video as Private on YouTube would result in no one else but me being able to see it...geez one has to be rocket scientist these days to get things right! 🤓

Also please remember that the Packa rain gear video represents a first attempt and based on past experience there is a 50/50 chance...ok maybe 25% that I will improve over time!


Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Final Planning - 27 Days to go

Getting closer and closer to the 2022 Camino walk and planning details are essentially complete (well at least for now). Unless something unforeseen happens (now why would that happen?) this should be my final post prior to walking ☺️

I focused on 2 main areas while planning the 2022 Caminos:

1) Build a solid walking base date in 2022 Fitbit has totalled 4,800 kms walked soooo...good enough! Minimal hill walking...aren’t that many hills around here... and no walking with a backpack...that just feels silly 🤣

2) Manage the backpack weight down considerably. In past Camino’s my backpack weight was ~9.5 kgs...I am currently just over 7.2 kgs for 2022. This has been achieved by focusing on light weight equipment (yes that means extra $ however this equipment will be used for years to can rationalize anything 🙂) and a more ruthless approach to “do I really need this?"

Common guidance is to limit backpack weight to nor more than 10% of body weight (significant discussion about this rule however it’s meant as a guide). For me that would allow for 8.7 kgs unless of course I eat something sweet...geez getting old is tough sometimes! 😡

This post is meant to be informative therefore unlike other posts (sure Guy dream on!) may be a little dry in spots...will throw in a few fun facts here and there.

COVID Situation

We are all aware the  COVID pandemic is not over however however the outlook is certainly much more positive than earlier in 2022. From my perspective it’s a per the Backpack list below taking some surgical/N95 masks and Rapid Tests (without packaging to save weight 🤣). 

We will also be staying in private rooms to minimize potential COVID exposure and to avoid hearing excessive snoring 😴 

Spain requirements for entry are to fill out an SpTh online form (vaccines received) and potentially a random test upon arrival.

Should one of us test positive then we will follow local Health guidelines...whatever that means.  Over 200,000 thousand pilgrims have likely walked COVID free in 2022 so that’s what I anticipate for us as well.

Note all graphs below for COVID and Pilgrim Numbers were created by a retiree who has ample time and likes to do this kind of nerd!

Graph 1 for Spain outlines Incidence of claim (left hand axis) and Deaths (right hand axis) for rolling 14 day periods. 

Essentially Incidence is decreasing...perhaps due to lower test numbers...and Deaths are quite flat.

Graph 1 - Incidence and Deaths for rolling 14 day periods

Graph 2 for Spain outlines Hospitalizations (left hand axis) and Deaths/Hospitalizations (right hand axis) on a per 100,000 basis for rolling 14 day periods.

Hospitalizations are decreasing while the ratio of Deaths/Hospitalizations is essentially flat...the latter is a lagging indicator so will likely decrease in near future as well.

Graph 2 - Hospitalization and Hospitalization/Deaths % on per 100,000 basis for rolling 14 day periods

So as Paulo would say “Let's go”...we have to start moving forward sometime and I am not getting any younger!

Camino Pilgrim Numbers Historical and 2022

2022 will almost certainly be a record year for Camino Compostela’s issued. (must have walked at least 100 kms into Santiago de Compostela and received 2 pilgrim stamps or more per day).

The previous record was in 2019 when 347,000 Compostela’s were issued. As July 2022 the in year cumulative 2022/2019 ratio is 114% therefore a straight math projection (non Actuarial) would project 396,000 Compostela’s for 2022. My personal projection...based on being around Actuaries all the time and my “spidey sense” is 405,596 +/- 25.

Note a number of Camino pilgrims choose not to receive a my case I have I really need two other pieces of “proof” that I walked Camino paths? My Compostela’s are sitting in cardboard tubes...likely will never see the light of day. Instead of lining up again for a Compostela maybe a cerveza and pulpo (fancy rubber) would be better!

Camino Primitivo end of July 2022 in year cumulative 2022/2019 ratio is 122% therefore the 2022 numbers will likely be ~ 20,000. No numbers are maintained for the Camino Salvador as it is a lesser travelled route.

Here are some graphs for your viewing pleasure 🤣

All Camino Routes Totals - by Year
All Camino Routes Cumulative within Year
All Camino Routes Monthly within Year
Camino Primitivo Cumulative within Year
Camino Primitivo Monthly within Year

Camino Walking Friends

As outlined in a previous blog I will be walking with Paulo on the Camino Primitivo and Cyrille on the Camino Salvador. A brief introduction for each followed by awesome pictures which you will not see in future blog posts. I get to post 4 pictures of myself since I am writing the blog...I can do whatever I want 😇 and will see why!

I have walked a total of 1,146 kms over 43 days with Paulo from Brazil on the Camino Frances and Camino Portuguese routes. I will rely on Paulo for his Spanish speaking skills, making sure I do not get over my skis and his lawyerly negotiating skills for whatever situation we face.

Paulo about 15-20 years ago

I have walked a total of 801 kms over 29 days with Cyrille from France on the Via Podiensis, Camino Frances and Camino Finisterre routes. I will rely on Cyrille for his Spanish speaking skills, protecting me from wild Spanish chickens and roosters (is a rooster a chicken?) and snakes. 

Cyrille probably about 10 years ago

I have walked a total of 3,000 kms over 105 days with Guy from Canada on the Via Jacobi, Via Gebennesis, Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre and Camino Portuguese routes. I will rely on Guy to rely on either Paulo or Cyrille for basically everything 🤣😂

I draw your attention to the second picture when I was 2.5 years old. Other than being much taller now everything about this picture speaks to the current style much the same...some would say the same little ridiculous smile...etc.

Guy 1 year old with the Golden locks

Guy 2 1/2 years old looks a lot like the current 65 year old!

Guy almost 4 years old pretty snazzy ☺️ and ready to hike!

Guy 3.5 years, Marc (brother with whom I have walked countless kms) 2 years old. No fair Marc looks sharper with the French beret! Much better than my look! Mam why did you do this?

Camino Planning Updates from previous Blog
  • Paulo will be flying into Madrid earlier allowing us to arrive at the Oviedo Asturias airport at 9 pm at which time we will likely share a cab to Oviedo arriving around 10 pm rather than midnight. 👍
  • Upon my arrival at Madrid airport I have arranged for a representative from to meet me at the arrival gate with a sign saying GUY ARBEZ ... how cool is that! She/he will then insert the Sim card and activate my 35 Euro 28 day 100 GB plan...Spanish cell plans are sooooo much cheaper than Canadian plans!
  • Booked Alsa bus leaving Santiago de Compostela Sept 29th morning arriving in Leon where I will meet Cyrille to start walking the Camino Salvador on Sept 30th
  • Booked Alsa bus leaving Oviedo Oct 4 22:50 arriving at Madrid Airport Oct 5th at 4:30 am. Flight home leaves mid-day.
  • No changes to Accommodation bookings on Camino Primitivo where 7 of 12 nights + 2 nights in Santiago de Compostela have been booked. This will likely remain as is until we start walking.
  • Will start booking Accommodation on Camino Salvador shortly...want to ensure we try to stay in the  Benduenos Albergue which has a reputation of being one of the best on any Camino route!
Camino Route Plan including Daily Elevation Gains/Losses

The current plan is shown in the table below...of note are the very significant elevation gains/losses on a number of days. Both the Camino Primitivo and Camino Salvador routes traverse mountainous terrain and are reputed to be amongst the most challenging of all the Camino Routes.

Spanish Learning Update

Well....not so good...will have to revert to University days and start cramming hard! Backup plans are Paulo, Cyrille and Google translate! The following book looks pretty tough at this point and essentially summarizes nicely my progress.

Guy’s Spanish Speed
What’s in the Backpack

This has been a major focus of planning! Attached are detailed spreadsheets of all items as this  may be of benefit to anyone else walking or result in someone reading this and saying “Guy what about X?

There are a few areas of note in the Backpacking list...actually there are very few holdovers from previous Caminos...major change was required after the Camino Portuguese hmmm 🤔 challenges!

Tilley hat and George Clooney glasses

Never a doubt...the look must be maintained!

Walking shoes and socks

A bit of history on the evolution of my hiking/walking shoes over time...

Vasque 3/4 shank all leather heavy boots late 70s/mid 80s

Merell hiking boots - mid 80s + Might still consider these for Rockies hiking

Merell Moab Ventilator 2 non waterproof (waterproof too hot and offers unsatisfactory water protection for me) shoes worn on all Camino walks 

For the 2022 Camino a major shift for me based on recommendations made by a gear expert and serious long distance backpacker on the Camino Forum. Comfort and lightweight are the keys as opposed to durability, My walking in 2022 has been in HOKA Bondi V7...will go with HOKA Speedgoat V5 mainly for the Vibram sole (protect and grip better) and well the cool factor...just look at the picture and you will understand.

HOKA Speedgoat V5 with Vibram soles

As for socks going with recommended PHD Smartwool socks. To be honest the name was simply amazing! Technical socks such as these are expensive however can totally make the difference.

Sleeping Bag

Taking a silk sleep sheet only...staying in private accommodation and being Canadian I should be able to handle some cold. If not I will sleep with all my clothes on.


This may seem like an odd item to focus on however for me it has caused significant issues in the past and I must correct this before I do something embarrassing...or am I already too late 🤣

2014 Camino Frances Sunscreen Application Disaster

Now on to recent times... 

These are only two products in my Beauty box of creams etc to keep my skin healthy and glowing.  My beauty box is slightly above eye level so I have to reach in to pick the right product

One morning I did just that... reach in...and started applying sunscreen...squeezed it onto my right palm and then spread it all over my left arm. Now I am told I suffer from a less than average sense of smell i.e long COVID from birth however I noted a hint of spearmint. Neat what they have done to my sunscreen!

I then applied a good size dab in my left palm ✋ but then stopped as the dap was pretty solid looking and not creamy like normal. To my horror...some may have noticed earlier...I realized that I had used my toothpaste as sunscreen. Immediately though horror turned into “this is the funniest thing I have done in a long time” and I started to laugh.

Quickly I went to tell someone I know very well (protecting the identity) and told my story. “Guy how could you not have noticed?” Well that’s easy...I did notice...just a little late. Then “Guy how will we ever know if you start suffering from dementia as this isn’t surprising or even new that you would do something like this?” This very close person has a point however it’s not really something I can worry about now. ☺️

Now would toothpaste provide better protection than sunscreen? Would you have to re-apply it? Is it more or less expensive? Hmmm...wonder for the future what is best...however I have found an amazing solution for the Camino 2022 walk.

I should be able to tell the difference!

Rain Gear

In the past I have tried ponchos, goretex jacket/rain pants/backpack cover all to limited success. I commented on this in a previous blog and to my delight I received a suggestion from a very experienced Camino Forum member.

The Packa which is a neat concept of a backpack cover and rain jacket all rolled into one! So I ordered one...colour choices gray - blah, red - nice colour especially when walking through a field of cows with the odd bull, blue - nice colour however known to attract bees...likely swarms of them!

So I decided to choose red as being the least dangerous colour to wear...can you imagine being attacked by a swarm of bees...I would try to outrun them of course but....

I am attaching a short video taken by Dawn my professional videographer. This was the very first time I tried the Packa in a simulated test. It took a few try’s to upload this video...had to go to the Blogger Community website to find out that uploading to YouTube and then downloading to Blogger was the way to go 🥲.

All I can say is that the Packa has great promise however my technique needs a little work 😒. I think one issue is that the Packa designer assumes a basic level of flexibility and coordination! Hope you enjoy!

 Well that’s a wrap for the planned blog mid September!

"The word ‘Ultreia’ (also ‘ultrella’ or ‘ultreya’) comes from Latin and it means ‘beyond’. It’s is another pilgrim salute, like the more popular ‘Buen Camino!’. While ‘Buen Camino’ literally means ‘have a good journey, a good Camino’, the meaning of ‘Ultreia!’ goes a bit deeper, implying encouragement to keep going, reaching ‘beyond’, heading onwards."

Toes, fingers and all other possible body parts crossed for good luck and for a great adventure!