Should I stay or should I go?

I know, I know. It covers my conundrum perfectly though. I have been mulling it over for ages now, pros and cons and hopes and dreams and worries and vaccines and all the new paperwork and flights constantly being changed, cancelled and refunded. I would say I have been in two minds, but it’s more like four or five.

Still, a decision has to be made at some point. So I have decided that barring any great disaster, new restrictions or another flight cancellation, I am going!

Before you think ill of me for visiting another country in a pandemic, in my defense I am fully vaccinated and still masking up and taking precautions even though the UK govt have decided I don’t need to (don’t get me started), I have no problems adhering to local rules and regulations, enjoy walking alone and have every intention of adding to the local economy by happily paying the going rate for beds, rooms, meals and services. Of course, from a purely selfish viewpoint I would rather be there than here – with the Spanish infection rate going down and vaccination rate going up, Spain is actually safer, covid wise, than the UK right now. And I am practically quarantining while finishing this translation and testing regularly. So far, so good.

I have printed out my NHS vaccine documents, registered them in the French TousAntiCovid EU approved app just to be on the safe side, and started my Spanish SpTH passenger locator form to be completed within the last 48 hours before travel. I have packed my two camino themed masks and a few medical grade ones for the flight, I have hand sanitiser and gloves and I am not afraid to use them. And I have secured a cheap hotel room at the airport the night before and intend to go to the airport on the way there and ask if there is anything else I need to do and how early I should get there. I even paid for a fast track ticket through security so I don’t have to stay in line with lots of people – Manchester airport is notorious for its slow security queue. With my non UK passport I should even be able to breeze through the e-gates and not wait in the brexit line, and I have my pack as hand luggage so no waiting to check it in. It even turns out my flight lands at Terminal 4 in Madrid, where the ALSA buses are, so no trekking through the main terminal, catching shuttle buses etc!

Pacerpoles are on their way to sunny Spain by post, as usual, and should be waiting for me when I arrive in Burgos. So is David of ClearskiesCamino – not sent by post, but arriving from Ireland on the same day, so we will walk the first week together. Or, as he walks faster than me, we will meet up for dinner at least!

I have booked the flight and two bus tickets for the same stretch – one was non-refundable – so now I have choices. Because of covid you can now pay to block the seat next to you for a small fee, which I have done. I am assuming health and passport controls will add time to my travel and am prepared to sit and enjoy a tapa and a caña at the airport before my bus leaves. I have also booked my accommodation, most of it in single rooms for safety and as a treat for my last birthday (which was a biggie). From live reports on the pilgrim forum I have heard that most albergues have greatly reduced capacity, so they will need our money even more, and I am looking forward to staying in some of my favourites.

I have also dug out my dusty kit box, the contents of which promptly exploded all over the sofa and dining table, and am in the process of packing, skittishly and slowly, like a complete amateur. I have bought a new silk bag and a new towel, got the Hoka Speedgoats I got in 2019 out of the box they have been slumbering in, I have added a sun protective umbrella/parasol for the ongoing heatwave and somehow lost my lovely lightweight Altus poncho somewhere in the house. I am excited and impatient for this walk in spite of not being remotely fit for it. Glad I am starting on the meseta so I can get my trail legs before I hit Galicia … and when I get to the square in front of the cathedral in Burgos, I shall treat myself to a glass of albariño and finally let my shoulders down. Can’t wait.

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