So you’ve gotten up, packed the bag, said “FUCK YOU” (or in Gallego, ARAÑALLA!) to all the other pilgrims, and gotten a cafe con leche, “Grande, por favor.”
You’ve perused the guidebook and it’s time to go.
Make sure to pay, pee, strap on the pack, “Gracias, adios!” “Buen viaje” “Gracias!” and set off into the street for part 3 of your morning: LOOKING FOR THE FLECHAS.
Flechas are the little yellow arrows that are painted on trees, rocks, stop signs, lampposts, dumpsters, sidewalks and buildings all over Spain, all pointing the way toward Santiago, that seem to magically appear as soon as I think “Holy shit, I’m lost!” yet magically disappear completely once the Camino reaches a pueblo. Continue Reading
But back to the question of should you get a coffee?
The morning freneticism is catching, and after a night of unpleasant sleep highlighted by 2 hours of the cruelest “snoozing” I’ve ever experienced, I’m actually LESS likely to stop and get a coffee, even though I need it more. Why?
PEER PRESSURE. Yes, there is unbridled peer pressure on the Camino!
“I gotta get going! Get a move on!” I start thinking. “How many miles am I going to go today? And how fast? Can I get past 4k/hr today? I gotta get to town by six, right, for good measure, even though I can’t get dinner till 8 at the earliest and the sun doesn’t set till, like, tomorrow….”
Watching everybody run out at 5:30 am has me thinking I’m somehow “doing the Camino” wrong. Continue Reading
It’s morning in the albergue.
So you’ve packed your bag. If it’s not a full hour after you got up, congrats! You’re improving. No matter the hour, I fully recommend getting a coffee.
Whether or not I actually do this, however, tends to depend on who was in the room with me while I slept. For the sensitive soul, alburgues — the “refuges” designated especially for pilgrims — can be particularly dreadful. Farting. Throat clearing. Bed rustling. And snoring. Oh, the snoring!
You don’t know snoring until you’ve slept in a room of 24 bunks, the majority men, at least 2 overweight and 2 more with undiagnosed sleep apnea. Lord, have mercy on your pilgrims! Or perhaps this is a part of our penitence, but my oh my what a somewhat hilarious curse on the human population snoring is.
Here’s the thing: how does one write about, how does one explain the Camino? It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, yet at the same time, nothing has really happened.
I get up — grouchily, and, yes, still, reluctantly.
I arrange my backpack.