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A Day in the Life of a Camino Pilgrim

People start packing up an leaving the albergue by 5:00 AM.  I get up at 6:00 and am out the door by 6:30, about 30 minutes before sunrise.  This is usually what your bed looks like.  The bottom bunk is preferred.IMG_2604

Breakfast is at the first bar/restaurant down the trail, somewhere between one and two hours away.  The offerings are consistent, as is my choice: cafe con leche, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a slice of tortilla (potato and egg), about 5 Euro.

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You look like this all morning, walking a long, lonely trail to the horizon for 5 -6 hours.  Many people travel in groups and talk all the way.  I hang back from these groups or pass them.  Usually the conversation is in a language I don’t understand, but it gets aggravating, especially when I understand the language.

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The scenery can be anything from boring to incredible, depending on where you are on the Camino; here is a typical village.  They all have a large stone church in the center. Most of the time lately is on long paths beside a road.  Wheat and barley fields stretch to every horizon and most high ridges have wind turbines.  Today I saw an electric train – wow!  What a way to travel.

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Then you locate and check into a new albergue.  Often I stay at the Municipal (city owned) place as the internet usually works well there and they are only 5 Euro.  Sometimes I stay at a private albergue, they are smaller and usually have better spaces to hang out.  Tonight I am at this one in a town with few redeeming qualities, El Burgo Ranero, at La Laguna Albergue (9 Euro and spotty internet, no food offerings). At first we thought the owner was crazy.

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Then you shower, wash your clothes out in a sink and hang them on a clothesline, take a short nap, and find a place like this to drink beer and snack on tapas or rationes. This was yesterday in a nice place in Sagahun.  The owner loves pilgrims and treated us well.

Beer Drinking

Sometimes there is a pilgrim meal in the evening, sometimes you skip dinner as you’ve snacked enough.  The pilgrim menu is available at both albergues and restaurants, usually 10 Euro. There are usually two courses to choose from plus wine and bread.  Most are quite good.

Pilgrim Meal

Then you pack up your pack for the morning, climb into your bunk bed, and prepare to do it all over again in the morning.

What is hard to grasp up front is that you will do that same routine for 35 or more days; it becomes a way of life, the days and places run together, and it is full of surprises. After a few weeks you know a lot of pilgrims on the same track as you, and are greeting people by name all over the place – walking through a city you stop at a street side bar to say hi to an ‘old’ friend, in a village at a cafe you pull up a chair to have breakfast with another. I’ve generally been traveling with a group of Germans, but sometimes I lose track of them and am on my own.  No place is like another, and new people join the mix every day. Conversations often start with “where did you start the Camino?” or “where did you stay last night?”.

I started at St Jean Pied a Port in France on May 5, so this was my 18th day on the trail. Eventually this might beat me into submission. I know people who have walked this trail 6 or more times.  I’m still trying to convince myself I want to do another 18 days; it is a bit overwhelming.

 

Buen Camino: Pilgrimage or Pub Crawl?

http://texashillcountry.com/buen-camino-pilgrimage-pub-crawl/

This doesn’t do the story justice but writing on the road is complicated. Internet isn’t always available or is slow and I write after a day of hard walking. Then, there is the beer. I’ve just finished day 14 on the Camino, am in an auberge in CastroJeriz called Orion. It rained hard with a cold wind all morning on the trail. I am still warming up. I lost the Germans again but we seem to reconnect somewhere.  

I’ve had trouble with a muscle spasm in my upper back – in trying to figure that out I went to a physical therapist in Burgos plus bought a new pack. I’ve about decided the issue is walking too fast, so I slowed down to my natural pace, hence losing Michael and Erwin (aka the Germans). My natural pace is slower than most so people pass me all day but we seem to arrive about the same time. The PT did massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, and gave me 4 exercises, all for €40. I did much better today or I’m used to the pain, one or the other.  Otherwise I’m holding up just fine. 

I turned 65 on Monday. There are people of all ages well higher – I met Mary Katherine, a 76 year old French woman, yesterday at the Hen Fountain At Hornillos yesterday on her umpteenth Camino. I also had a long conversation yesterday with Alessandro, Italian pastry chef, 28 years old. 

Erwin just sent a message in German via Facebook so I will see if I can locate the bar they are in. 

The Old Fort Story

If you love old frontier forts, our very own Fort Martin Scott is telling their story this weekend.  Friday is school day, with 800 kids expected, and Saturday is Celebrate Texas at Fort Martin Scott.  See my current story on here:

http://texashillcountry.com/fredericksburgs-frontier-fort-martin-scott-april-29/

A picture is worth 1,000 words

My latest post on Texas Hill Country about the traffic problem at The Rock. This is not a new problem and the solutions aren’t easy. I was introduced to Troy Kneese, a local high school student with a drone, and he took these great photos for me last Saturday at 9:00 AM.  A picture is worth a thousand words, eh?

V-K What’s it all about?

Me

I’ve been writing a lot lately – this piece is intended to shame you into going to the VK to see what its all about.  I’ll admit that I haven’t been inside in years.  The crowd inside while I visited were all tourists.  See what you are missing out on.http://texashillcountry.com/fredericksburg-insider-vk/

I wrote another E Rock story. When is enough, enough?

I was invited by Joe Houde to write a brief essay on Enchanted Rock for the Hill Country Visitor Magazine.   I always strive to write a different story from any you have read.  Give it a look, it is under 500 words and the first story in the magaine.

Did I succeed?

Secret Country Drives

I visited some of the most beautiful places in the Texas Hill Country on Monday, and we were the only people there.