Destination: Calzadilla de la Cueza
Distance: 16 km (approx)
Time: 4 hours, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Terrain: flat, nice gravel trail and some pavement
Weather: sun and cloud. No wind or rain.
Total distance to date: 381 km (+ 12k taxi)
We’ve passed the half way point -in days (19) and in kms (380)! (although technically people say the next town is the half way point).
We slept in until 8:30 and were in no hurry to leave. The breakfast was pricey (10€ each) we had a coffee and croissant in the bar. Took our time packing up and finally left our beautiful room at 11:00. Our latest exit yet.
Last night we spent some time booking accommodations for the next four days. We asked the hotel clerk to call a couple of places but they were all booked so we ended up paying a little more and got hotels on booking.com. All good.
There is a huge glut of Peregrinos on the Camino right now. Many of them left on May 1 and they are now catching up and passing us. It’s making it very hard to find double rooms and we don’t want to risk arriving later in the afternoon to find the albergues completo.
Today was uneventful with the exception that my legs felt strong but Erik’s knee was causing him some grief. I gave him one of my tensor bandages and that seemed to help.
Why are you doing the Camino?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking while I walk. You tend to do that when you spend 5-6 hours a day walking alone. One of the things I’ve struggled with is understanding why I am doing the Camino. It’s the big question that everyone asks once we’ve gone past the pleasantries. I’ve really struggled with knowing how to answer that question.
Originally I saw the Camino as a physical challenge, much like running a marathon or doing a half iron. I wanted to know if I could push through the pain and fatigue and keep on going. However, I’ve been hesitant to tell this to my fellow pilgrims when they ask because I’m afraid of being criticized by some of the more judgmental pilgrims. The purists say that the Camino must be more than just a physical challenge. I know I shouldn’t care what they think, but I do.
One day as I was walking and thinking, I stopped to look at a bug crawling along the road. You see a lot of these little guys that look like millipedes but I’m not sure what they are. It reminded of a blog post I did a couple of years ago entitled Slow is Good, (you can click on the link if you want to read it later), when I wrote about how I’ve often wished I could just slow down in my life.
All my life I’ve been going a full speed. Whatever I do, I go all out and work hard, and I think and move fast. I have always had trouble slowing down to just enjoy the moment.
When I wrote that post, I had just returned from a trip to Europe where life tends to be more relaxed. This was further reinforced when I read In Praise of Slow by Ferenc Maté.
At that point, I tried making a few changes to my lifestyle, and to my thinking, but I found it difficult to follow the concept during the school year.
So, while I was walking and thinking that day, looking at bugs and flowers and the amazing landscape surrounding me, I suddenly realized, this is probably the most important reason I am doing the Camino. I am hoping it will provide me with the opportunity to experience a slower, simpler life. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
After 20 days of walking, I think I’m doing a great job of slowing down physically. I’m walking slower and I’m appreciating the time I have each day, I’m listening to my body and taking care of it. I no longer rushing around, stressing about things. Life is simple and straightforward.
But mentally, it’s not so easy. I have such a challenging time slowing down my mind! I’m always thinking, thinking, thinking. Thinking and planning and analyzing. It’s never ending. Maybe I will experience some mental Calmness in the 2nd half of my Camino.
Life is simple on the Camino. I only have two sets of clothes so I wear the same thing every day. I eat pretty much the same thing every day. Every day follows the same simple pattern. Wake up, dress, pack, eat, walk/rest/snack for 5-6 hrs, unpack, shower, rest, eat, and sleep. Simplicity is very freeing.
I also love that I have so few possessions. It’s almost impossible to forget something because I only carry a few things and they are with me almost all of the time. It makes me start to wonder if I really need all the stuff that I have in my house.
So the next time someone asks me why I’m doing the Camino, I think I can confidently answer them. Yes, it’s a physical challenge that I enjoy, but also, it’s a chance to slow down, stop obsessing about things beyond my control and let the Camino decide for me.
So why are you doing the Camino?