From the moment I stepped off the plane in Vancouver I knew things would be different. Getting home and reconnecting with all things familiar, easing into the “easy” life we live. Because, that is the truth for me and it is magnified by the life on the Camino. My feet were my transportation, if I wanted to go somewhere, it would be by foot. And now, at home the ease of life is like a 1000 w bulb. Starting as I get out of bed:
Daily flow of the Camino:
It is morning, ’cause others are stirring, my thoughts are on sleep. Soon it is confirmed by the soft purr of my alarm under my pillow (it is 6 am). Last night it was my turn to be on the top bunk, so for convenience so I don’t need to return back up there, I roll up my sleeping bag and liner, gather my clothes for the day and my personal stuff I have stashed at the end of the bed and carefully OH so carefully step gingerly onto the rungs of the ladder as not to punish my already sensitive feet. Then off to the WC to brush and rinse the weariness of the night down the drain.
One gets used to dressing anywhere, it really doesn’t matter anymore, years in Europe has managed most of that modesty, now I just look at it as a task, like the others, busy to get the day started. Soon the whole room is moving and preparing, if I was organized my backpack is waiting for me to add the few things I needed, but often I searched for that elusive something at the bottom and at last finding it neatly waiting for me (to find it), elsewhere near by!
Checklist for the morning:
headlamp, sweater, rain gear (maybe), sun-shirt, hat, gloves (maybe), ID, camino credentials, camera, pack.
It was an easy rhythm as we left the Albergue, stepping out into the darkness, mostly together, sometimes a few would follow moments later. We would have a destination for the day and a morning plan for coffee and breakfast. Still as the darkness around us, our sleepy minds walked with us into the inky blackness of predawn.
I clearly see the circles of light from our headlamps bouncing in rhythm to our steps, swaying slowly from side to side as if to clear the way for our steps forward. Looking forward along the trail, in the distance, other bouncing balls of light as the pilgrim trail for the day is cleared.
As “the way” almost entirely runs from east to west, we needed to turn and face the sunrise. More often than not the sight was breathtaking, breaking through and silhouetting towns and villages, majestic cathedral steeples or castles. When we were in the countryside the sunrises dawned accentuating deep cloud filled valleys or ancient paths through misty pastures. One of my favorites glowed red/orange behind me as if to set the trees in front of me on fire.
As the sun rose, the body reminded the distracted mind that food and coffee was essential. Planning coffee and breakfast often was determined by Kilometres, our guide book offered great info on likely spots. Sometimes, we would walk 3 km. 5 km. and on the odd occasion 8 km. to find breakfast. My fav. was to grab a quick coffee before we left, something in the village or at the Albergue or in a few km. and then have more of a substantial breakfast later on. French breakfasts consisted of white baguette, butter, jam (marmalade), coffee, sometimes fresh squeezed orange juice when we were lucky, mostly not. One can get very tired of is sort of breakfast, nutritional value of a pilgrims shoe! Not to mention the belly upset due to an overabundance of white bread. You will get what I mean a bit later on! Although, I will come clean that I love CROISSANTS, for breakfasts, I have had the most amazing, gigantic, buttery ones served with some of the best Cafe americano’s EVER!.
This French Camino angel served us freshly juiced orange, ginger apple celery, grilled bread with garlic and tomato, and to die for potato egg tortilla and of course cafe Americano. All by herself, singing as she served the constant lineup of 12+ people in her small but efficient cafe on “the way”.
What I did learn quite quickly is that I couldn’t sit to long. Legs, feet and ankles get stiff within about 20 minutes and the walking then becomes a task of warming back up to return into the smooth rhythm of the early morning. But, surprisingly enough it does happen and then breakfast is fortification enough to fuel your way to a midday meal.
In the beginning, I thought I needed food, of course I am walking a lot and far, but in reality what we were consuming was Carbs. as certain type of fuel, not high in vitamins (that I will talk about later), and not complex just simple. So, I was challenged to find my way around the food thing and seek out more fruits and veg.
Because our daily journey was essentially 20-25 km. that meant lunch happened about 8 km. after breakfast leaving the balance of the journey of 7km. to be completed by mid afternoon.
Lunch!!!!! Ask for a cheese sandwich and you get cheese and bread, here I got a tuna (just tuna), sandwich and begged for tomato and cheese with a smile of course. The other is…….drum roll please….da da da da da da boom-crash , a calamari sandwich, yup, no butter, no thing else. One piece of brilliance is that they were excellent to share.
Here is where things changed for me in the day. Usually, we have now been walking between 9-13 km. chances are our goal lies another 7km. further. I quickly came to realize my standard limit is 20km. There were days that we extended well beyond that. Afternoons challenged me. There came a time in my experience on the Camino that I realized the small voice in my head had a significant influence on my life. I came to recognize the whispers of “I don’t want to’s” and “I am tired” floating around waiting to be acknowledged. I, the one listening decided to switch things up a bit. I began to say “but look around, we have never seen such beauty, we don’t even know what wonders lay just beyond, let’s slow it down a bit ease up on the feet and rest a bit more”. Voila! Just a few more winey moments and the voice became quieter until it never returned. My feet ached and I did call it quits a few times using my better judgement.
Arriving at our destination was bliss, a place to put the feet up “the wall”, soothing them with a massage, a shower, laundry, food and lots of laughs and sharing the days moments. There was still things to prepare – ensuring the laundry was dry, sorting out the sleeping arrangements, tending to the feet and checking for daily damage, watching for the weather report to know the conditions of the next day. Packing a preparing for the morning start.
Then evening came a time when you lay down and fall deep into a undisturbed sleep tired from the day. Nope, there I lay, in a room of many, convincing myself it was time to sleep, often with no avail. Most of my blogging was done in the darkness of the room, long after the snore fest began and late into the night. Each night was the same, awake, sleep, awake check the time, now sleep………OK now, Ok really, it is 4:30 and someone is up and preparing to leave, sleep……. Purrrrrrr of the alarm.