Time: 5 1/2 hours, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Terrain: Mostly gravel or dirt trail, last 10 k gradual uphill, last 5 k slightly steep uphill and rockier. Parts of the trail had turned into a stream due to recent rain.
Weather: Sunny but quite cool most of the day and VERY windy.
Total distance to date: 512 km (+12k taxi, 14k bus, 15k bus)
We had a decent sleep and Erik woke up feeling a little better this morning. There are no bars open early in this small town so we hit the road at 9:30 and stopped for coffee an hour later. It’s quite windy and almost cold out today, despite the sunshine. I am bundled in two shirts, my fleece, my rain jacket, scarf and mitts.
The landscape has changed now that we’ve left the Meseta with more hills, small trees and scrub brush. There are lots of places to hide for a pee but of course you never have to go when that is the case. The towns are very small but picturesque with plenty of crumbling buildings from long ago.
We hit a small town every 3-4 km today and stopped for a few minutes in each of them. I had a banana and a piece of cake and an iced tea but that was it all day.
We had a gentle climb up and down for most of the day but after Rabanal, the trail narrowed, and we had a steady climb up for about 6km to the tiny town of Foncebadón, population 10. It is so small and isolated that I doubt it would survive without the Camino traffic.
We checked into Pension El Trasgu which is a lovely loft, super clean, and quite new but with a classic decorative touch. And only 45€ for a habitacion doble con baño. I highly recommend it.
There are two restaurants in town and they are only open until 7 so we went to the medieval themed La Taberna de Gaia which our pension owner recommended. It had wonderful medieval decor and good food (no pilgrim meal – yay!) with Celtic and medieval music playing.
Erik and I both ordered the ribs, veg and potatoes that came on a bread plate. Since I had hardly eaten all day, it really hit the spot to have a big meal at 4pm.
We started to chat with another patron, Javier, and he bought us two local liqueurs after dinner. We’d already had beer and wine so that was a bit over the top, but we had fun trying to communicate with him and with the waitress/cook/owner. We managed to weave back to our room around 5:30 and took it easy for the rest of the evening.
Erik is definitely on the mend now and although he is still coughing and sounds congested, he said that today was one of his best days on the Camino so far!
Moments of Bliss
I was reading a thread on a Camino forum where a poster was asking when the feeling of euphoria was going to set it. She’d heard that it often happens in the 2nd or 3rd week but she was only feeling fatigue and aching muscles. Many people posted their advice but it got me thinking.
I suspect by euphoria, she means that endorphin rush you can sometimes get when doing long workouts. I’ve certainly felt that rush when cycling and less so when running.
However, I really don’t expect to feel euphoria when I’m on this walk. Instead, I keep my mind open for moments of bliss. I find those moments can happen almost every day and often when I’m least expecting it.
To me, a moment of bliss is an immense feeling of happiness, contentment, and appreciation. It might be just that – a moment – or it might last as long as an hour. The key is to recognize those moments and appreciate them when they happen.
A moment of bliss could be the feeling I get when I’m looking out at the beautiful scenery and I realize how lucky I am to be here; it could be the satisfaction of reaching the top of a big climb; the exhultation of finally arriving at my destination. Sometimes it’s simply the feeling of warmth as I slip into a hot bath or shower after a hard day, or it might be my favourite moment – the feeling I have when I’m sitting in a Plaza in the early evening and all of the local families are sitting around visiting while they kids play in the center. It’s a feeling that I cannot adequately describe other than to call it a moment of bliss.
Some days it’s hard to find a moment – I might be cold, tired, or sore, the trail difficult or tedious, the food mundane. But if I open my eyes and my mind, I can almost always find at least one moment of bliss in the day. That first sip of a cafe con leche. The beautiful flower on the road side. The stork bringing food to its young. The ancient crumbling building with a tree growing through the fallen roof. The blue door laden with Camino shells. The stained glass window in an old church. The possibilities are endless.
Will you have euphoric days on the Camino? Maybe. But if you have your mind set on a general feeling of euphoria all day long, you will likely be disappointed.
Watch for the moments of bliss in your day but don’t going looking for them with a feeling of expectation. Just pay attention so that you notice and appreciate those moments when they happen, whether you are on the Camino or living your every day life.
Here are a few moments of bliss from today’s walk. I hope you find yours today.