Walk. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

That is the mantra of the Camino. It is what myself and my fellow Peligrinos do every day on the Camino. Walk. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. It is life reduced to the most basic elements. It’s a difficult, for the Way is not a meandering flat path from tranquil village to tranquil village. It is steep. Very steep. Lots of ascents and descents on loose rock across rolling hills that test the fortitude, energy and endurance of its travelers. The Camino goes straight up and down, often at 20-30 degrees with no switchbacks, so the descents are hard on your calf, knees and crams your toes into the front of your shoes. Not exactly what the guidebooks showed!

Perhaps Denise from Palm Springs, put it more aptly: “They just lied!”

Of course, some portions are idealic and shaded and incite a meandering pace, such as this section:m, from day two.

But these have been rare. Today though, we were on a farm road for several miles. Until the hills, that is.

Many paths have looked more like this (old Roman road). Historic,yes, but hard to walk on. And most with just loose rock, making the downhills tenuous to negotiate.

I only went 11 miles today. Sunny. Hot. More strenuous ups and downs. Most others pulled up after 11 miles also.

The downhills have my left calf tight like a coil that with every step turns tighter and tighter, sending shooting pain down my leg into my ankle. It’s been doing this for 3-4 days now. I thought it would subside once I got my Camino legs. Maybe tomorrow…

Anyway, it is a physical test–especially for those in their 60s and older. So far I think I’m the oldest I’ve come into contact with. Two of my Japanese friends are 70 and 69 and are grandfathers, so we call ourselves the Three Grandfathers of the Camino.

Someone told me today that 80% who start out with the goal of reaching Santiago drop out. Which means only 20% make it. I want to be in that group.

Two nights ago in Estella I went to Mass in this 14th Century church, built on the side of a hill. What keeps the ground from caving in I have no idea. It is stunning inside.

Afterwards, the priest called all the Peregrinos to the front of the altar for a special blessing. Strange that the priest is illuminated… The church is dark inside…

He called out different nationalities and gave each of us a card in our native tongue, saying, “When you get to Santiago, remember us here in Estella in your prayers.”

I intend to do that.

I need this prayer if I’m going to be one of the 20% who reach Santiago. I read it each morning.

The Camino provides.


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