After leaving Leon and the meseta, which is very flat and hot, the Camino once again enters the mountains.
The days have been long for me, some of them nearly 18 miles with 20 lbs on my back, and often I don’t find a hostel until 4:00.
My routine, the same as most pilgrims, is to wake at sunrise or earlier, pack my backpack, and begin walking. If I’m lucky, the albergue provides coffee, toast, and jam, and if I planned ahead, I’ll have a banana and some juice. But sometimes I’ll walk an hour to the next town to find a cafe and some cafe con leche. And sometimes I stop for a second breakfast!
I usually walk for six or seven hours a day. I’m slow now, especially after nursing and mostly healing a bit of tendinitis. I stop to take pictures, drink water, or to have a snack. I really love empanadas lately. Spanish omellete is off my list–I’ve had way to much of it.
When I reach the albergue, I find a lower bunk, get out some clean clothes, and shower. As my friend Carolina from Brazil says, “when you arrive at the end of the day you feel like a wild animal, but after a shower you turn back into a person.”
After the shower, it’s time to wash my clothes by hand. I only have three t-shirts plus one “good” shirt to wear in the evenings, and even that is considered extravagant by the standards of some micro lightweight packers.
I wear the same walking pants every day, and only wash them when I find a washing machine. That might sound gross to some people, but at this point, after walking almost 500 miles, I don’t care.
My night pants are actually a pair of black Smartwool thermals. So basically I’m walking around town in my longjohns with a nice shirt to dress it up.
After I’ve taken care of washing, I rest a bit and then go to the store to buy some snacks for the next day–almonds, prunes, healthy food.
Sometimes there’s a pilgrim’s mass in the town. There was one today in Sarria that I went to. The pilgrims receive a special blessing and a chance to receive a stamp on our pilgrim’s passport.
And during the day I walk and think and go through all kinds of emotions. My emotions rise and fall like the incedible slopes I go up and down in Galicia.