Monday, July 25, 2016
Training for the Camino (On The Camino)
I have only 2 days of walking under my belt so far, but the Camino feels decidedly different. Namely that there's nobody here. In the course of each of the past two days, I've seen 15-20 pilgrims. Tonight, I am staying at a large albergue with excellent reviews in the English guidebook and on the Camino Forum...and I am the only pilgrim here. It seems to be run by a family who are all here (dinner is allegedly in 30m and I'm sure as hell hoping they'll feed me or I'll be going to bed tonight on one granola bar).
Ellen the American I met on my first day (and saw again yesterday and this morning) has made mention of this fact. Apparently it's been like this for her since St. Jean. "Not the experience I was expecting", she said. Me neither.
Maybe it's because of the heat. While (early) mornings start in the low 60s, temps are expected to hit high-80s and even into the mid-90s consistently. I had heard that the high season was shifting more into September (the time when I walked last time) but to find the Camino this quiet is a surprise.
The body seems to be holding up fairly well, save one quarter-sized blister on my left foot. It seems to have been a product of one of my sandal straps since it's not on the bottom of my foot, but rather the side. I am achey of course and stiff when I stop for too long, but I'm doing fine.
I have 17 days of walking available to me. This accounts for needing to get back to Santiago on the 10th of August and flying out on the 11th (early RyanAir flight to Madrid, 2.5hr layover and direct to JFK, for those wondering how one (can) return from Santiago.
My trusty traveling companion John (that's John Brierly, author of the English guidebook) makes from my starting point in Sahagun to Santiago in 15 days plus 5k or so. I need to make it to Santiago in 14 days in order to have 3 days to walk to Muxia. Thus, I have to chase him a bit and make up a full days walk (+5k) over the next 12 days. Today's effort to push beyond the end of the Brierly stage and into the first town of the next day's stage was a first stab at that effort. I'll have to chip away at it.
Which is ok by me if my feet and body will cooperate. Rolling into an albergue at 1p or 2p does mean that I'm not in the thickest heat of the day, but it also means I'm going stir crazy once I've arrived.
Last time, after growing strong from weeks of walking, I was able to adapt to a new routine. I would get up in the morning at dawn (as I'm doing now) and walk until 1 or 2, typically putting on 20-25k in that time. Then I would find a bar (all the cafes are called bars) and sit there for a couple of hours. I'd let my body genuinely rest, hydrate, and relax before I'd tack on a final 5 or 6k. That was how I began to really pile on kilometers at the end of my last Camino, regularly pulling 30-35k days.
It's going to be awfully hot the next couple weeks but maybe I need to give my old system a shot. The hottest part of the day is in late afternoon, so that kind of sucks but once I'm in the albergue I'm ready to go back out and walk again after a couple hours. PS. The fact that the sun doesn't set until 10:30pm or so is driving me all kinds of nuts. I am in a way training for the Camino...while I'm on it. I Must. Find. A. Routine.
Besides, all this free time has given me far too much time to become paranoid about bedbugs. I sprayed my sleeping bag with Permethrin which basically kills them on contact but I'm scared. I don't remember ever feeling like I had cause to worry last time. Maybe it's the fact that in all this heat it feels like there are a million tiny critters roaming around. The aforementioned albergue where I am tonight is very clean and nice, but I swear I saw a bedbug on the pillow on my bed. I freaked and threw the pillow on the next bed, and proceeded to spend the next 20m using the flashlight on my phone to examine every square inch around me. I'm firmly In that place where the slightest touch (even from my own hair grazing my shoulder) makes me jump. God help me.
Speaking of...I want to sincerely thank everyone who is following along and supporting me with good vibes and/or prayers. I realize it may sound silly, but I keep seeing these small yellow butterflies cross my path and I can't help but think of them as God's little bit of encouragement to let me know I'm not alone in all this.
They say no two Caminos are the same, and so far I am surprised in the ways this one seems to differ from my last.
In the meantime, I'll just keep a grateful heart, an open mind, ...and both eyes open for those dastardly little bedbugs.