Living on a Prayer

Well, we are in León today, got in early this morning and have been exploring the city. We are over halfway to Santiago de Compostela and in less than two weeks will be done walking the Camino. Time has gone by so slowly and yet so quickly. Like I said in an earlier post, I am really enjoying my time now that I am adjusted and have stopped looking at the Camino as a whole and take each day as it is.

It has been brought to my attention that many people think I am surviving on sugar (chocolate) alone to get me through this. As much as I wish that were true, I am not. The regular meals are not as much fun to talk about and post pictures of! I have been eating a lot of pasta, French fries, chicken, bread, and drinking more water than I ever have in my life.

One of my friends had a bunch of questions for me about the logistics of the Camino. So I’m going to try to answer as many as I can so hopefully everyone can have a better picture of what I’m going through.

Basic logistics:

Everyone comes and goes as they please and when it works for them. Some people will walk part of it, go home, and then come back another time to finish. Some walk just the last part. Some start much earlier- we met a 65 year old lady from Belgium who started in Belgium and is walking all the way to Santiago! Some people have a time schedule to keep to and others don’t. It is highly recommended to walk past Santiago to a town on the coast called Finistair for a little extra Camino. There are routes from all over- southern Spain, Portugal, there is one along the northern coast- but the most popular one is the Camino Frances, the one we are walking, and a majority of people will start in St. Jean Pied de Port where we did. I think the Camino de Santiago has become much more popular because of the movie The Way (starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen). However, the movie is very deceiving and makes it look A LOT easier than it actually is. A couple friends we met said to us, “doesn’t it make you want to punch Martin Sheen in the throat?!”

Survival:

When you walk the Camino you are a pilgrim. You are homeless. You don’t know when you will get water next. You don’t know if you will have a bed to sleep in that night. You don’t know what the next albergue will have to offer, if the bed is comfortable, is there a kitchen to cook in, or is there more than one toilet/shower? If you forget something at a hostel (I left a shirt in Logroño), you must accept that it is gone and move on. I’m not about to walk back and get it, so I had to make do and get another shirt a few days later to live a bit more comfortably. There are a lot of unknowns, and being able to embrace that is its own challenge.

I must carry everything I need to survive. Which means that I make do without a lot of the many luxuries we have in the states. I had to weigh the cost of having to carry something against my desire for it. For example, I really wanted to bring my nice DSLR camera because I knew I am going to see some amazing sights and want to capture them with good quality. But that would mean having to carry it, worrying about keeping it charged, and risking it being stolen. So I settled on just using the camera on my phone. Additionally, bringing a laptop would be extremely heavy, so the only electronic I brought is my phone, which is how I stay connected to everyone back home. I didn’t want to go through the hassle and expense of having an international plan, so I just stay connected through Wi-Fi, and if a hostel doesn’t have it, then we try to find a restaurant that does, and if we can’t then we just go without. It is good an bad. I like to stay connected but sometimes it’s nice to not be.

The best part:

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of this trip is the people we meet along the way. From other pilgrims to locals and everyone in between. Pilgrims are so nice to each other- generous and caring- because we are all on this journey together even if we are strangers or there is a language barrier. The only Spanish language experience I have is my four years in high school. I tried to review before I left but I got caught up in everything else that was going on that I didn’t do much reviewing. You don’t need to know a ton of Spanish because many people here speak both English and Spanish, but immersion is the best way to learn. There are phrases I have learned along the way and words that I am starting to remember that I thought I had forgotten in the 10 years it’s been since I’ve taken Spanish class. I find it most difficult to communicate with French people who know no other languages because I know about 5 French words and they are not very helpful! But people are all sorts of ages- we’ve seen kids to the elderly- and when you are a pilgrim you are there to go on your journey. Some young adults like to take advantage of the bigger cities, but we are always in bed by 8/9 and up by 6/6:30 or earlier.

Like I’ve said before, everyone does this for their own reasons, but I’ve noticed the majority are people who either really enjoy the outdoors and this type of thing, or it is for religious reasons. The Camino is a very personal journey, but I am happy to share it with all of you. 🤗

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