Several have asked me what a typical day is like on the Camino de Santiago. Of course, each day will be entirely unique. Weather is a factor, as well as the region one is currently walking through, and the albergue one chooses. Each person’s experiences will be quite different!
It’s funny that I choose now to write about a typical day when today is anything but. Yesterday I had a cough coming on as I walked, slept extremely badly, and awoke weak and dizzy this morning with a fever, cough and runny nose. So this atypical day became an interesting experience for me in letting go. I really wanted to walk!
My Camino family naturally had to push on, which means I likely won’t see them again. I’ve grown very fond of these lovely ladies. Part of the “Let go and let God” lesson is this. There will be new and amazing experiences ahead for me; it’s all in the cosmic design.
The hospitalera this morning found me laying in my bed after the other pilgrims had departed and came to me. She felt my forehead (said I had a fever), gave me kisses, and did a sort of reiki treatment for 15 minutes. Then she explained in broken English (which I appreciated) how the Camino speaks to your soul. Don’t try to control it. Live in the moment. Live always in joy. Being sick is slowing me down for a reason.
I went back to sleep in my bed and she came to check on me in the afternoon, making me some herb tea and vegetable soup. I feel very cared for. My fever has subsided.
(Typical church along the way in the sunrise.)
So what about that typical day? Sometimes I walk with other ladies, sometime alone. With others, we make a tentative plan to stay later together in the same village at an albergue: generally a group dorm with 4-12 beds. Obviously, being assigned a smaller room with a private bathroom is a treat. When loosely traveling with others we can ask to occupy the same room, which adds to the fun. Sometimes we don’t end at the same village but we often catch up with each other again in the days ahead.
(Typical Camino marker at which pilgrims leave a rock prayer to lighten the heart.)
The albergue dorm room starts shuffling awake at about 6:00am. Pilgrims are packing their bags to generally start walking at 7:00am, which for this time of year is just before sunrise. In summer the pilgrim awakening time is much earlier due to the time of sunrise, and the expected heat of the day. Pilgrims often eat breakfast put out by the albergue (sometimes deluxe in choices, sometimes just tea, coffee, and sweet cookie-biscuits).
(So many various signs to bless the Pilgrim and let you know you are still walking on the right path.)
Then after breakfast, I put on that backpack and walk! I often stop in two hours at a bar (yes, they serve beer and wine, but in the daytime they are a Pilgrim mainstay for food along the way). A super common food choice is called tortilla de potata. It’s an egg omlette with cooked potatoes and sometimes cheese inside, and is inexpensive. This is a frequent breakfast, fresh cooked and often warm.
(A side altar and meditation space in a small church and tiny village. I lit a candle and sat to pray for my journey and all those who walk with me in spirit. Finding really sweet old churches along the way is always a wonderful treat.)
The walking day goes on for 6-8 hours, depending on where I want to end up, if the albergue has a good reputation, and how strong I am feeling. I find tiny grocery stores on the way, buying nuts, a small piece of fruit, and don’t forget the chocolate!! Chocolate is a food group in my diet plan, and there are many varieties at good prices.
I stop sometimes in the day for lunch at a bar or restaurant, but it’s hard to find much vegetarian food. You have to be creative. For others, there are a lot of egg dishes and sandwich choices everywhere.
(Street art is common and makes the traveling fun.)
One arrives later at the next albergue, checks in, chooses a bed, first takes a (soothing) shower, washes out clothing and hangs it to dry, and then relaxes a bit. Dinner is sometimes provided by the albergue. It is sometimes excellent, sometimes mediocre, but it’s certainly convenient that I don’t have to walk farther to find a bar or restaurant that is open. Spanish people eat late; 7:00pm for Pilgrim’s Menu (us poor exhausted walkers), and 8:00-8:30pm for restaurants.
Food choices are naturally greater in the bigger cities, but I love the tiny little villages best. You just can’t beat the charm. In the big city of Burgos I got super excited to find a big-box grocery store and stocked up on some nuts and sesame crackers that I can’t find in the rural areas.
So: a typical day. One personal friend emailed me and asked on a Friday what I was “doing this weekend.” It made me snort with amusement. There answer is: walk!
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