Day 20: May 14, 2016.

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 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?

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5 thoughts on “Day 20: May 14, 2016.

  1. Marilyn Brinton

    Since being retired, Barb, the hardest thing I have had to do is to stop thinking!! I wake up in the night and my brain is busy, busy, busy!! Even when I have all day to do a very few things, I find myself still rushing with a somewhat feeling of panic!! I have been retired now for 14 years and I am STILL trying to change gears!!
    I love reading your blogs with my morning coffee and am so proud of what you and Eric are doing! Keep up the great effort and continue to smell the flowers, landscape and watch the bugs and the sunsets!
    xoxo Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dianne Mathers

    I know what you mean about the mind thing. While I love my retired life, I still tend to rush around, a bit like Marilyn, in a panic, wanting to get things done. Sometimes, I wake up in the night thinking that I should have finished this or that, and don’t stop to think that there is another full day tomorrow. I loved the bug analogy. I still have trouble sitting down and just “taking in” nature. I think teaching forces you to live a faster life with many things compacted into a shorter period of time and I truly believe it is really hard to free yourself of that. In my retirement speech I said, “and on some days I will do absolutely nothing”. Yeah, well, that hasn’t happened yet.
    Love, love, love your blog and read it daily. You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marilyn and Dianne. The comments are much appreciated. I have been trying to mediate while I walk and also when I am resting. I find it really does help me relax my body. I also focus on my breathing when I’m walking and I consciously work on not grinding my teeth. I guess it’s hard to break a 56 year habit. 🙂


  3. Erik Danielsen

    I guess I find it a bit easier to slow down than Barb does, but there is no doubt that the major “charm” of the Camino is the simplicity of it all. The only slight nagging worry is the accommodation thing with the huge number of pilgrims coming through. As long as we have reserved places to stay 3 or 4 days ahead it is a worry-free journey……aside from nagging physical issues. Such simplicity, and yet such variety (people, accommodations, thoughts, drinks). Was carrying a half carton of wine with me yesterday… Maybe that’s what made my knee sore. Drank half of it to reduce the weight. Seemed to help a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yogi

    Erik, you should have finished the whole carton. I bet the knee pain would have disappeared totally, but you might have ended up at the same hostel that you had left that morning. Barb, you’re an incredible writer. Always enjoy reading your stuff. Y.

    Liked by 1 person

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