07 So Similar, So Different

It may seem obvious……

My 2017 Camino is already dramatically different than my previous Camino in so many ways. Some good, and in other ways not so. In my own mind this is to be expected. Trying to recreate the first Camino would be undesirable, and a practical impossibility. I met such a wonderful group of people in 2013 and became so close. Just so unique to a person. Quite frankly I’ve met many people this time around but not felt any desire to develop a walking family relationship. In all honesty I wasn’t looking to form a “Camino Family” the first time either. This is the serindipidous nature of what happened in 2013. The starting times for my Camino Family aligned at the right time, and in the right corner of the universe. My Camino Family of 2013 will always be my Family….and I can’t imagine anything changing this. Trying to “arrange” another Family would undoubtedly no work out as expected.

So on this Camino what do I not find to be similar, and what do I miss?

Training: Then-Lots and lots…… Now-Nothing at all
Anticipation: Then-Couldn’t sleep…… Now- No time to even think about it.
Close Aquaintences: Then-My Family, say no more……. Now- None
Surprises on the Road: Then- Every minute was new……Now- Almost none
Lodgings: Then- Lowest cost Albergues (bunks)….. Now- Private Albergues (beds)
Meals: Then- pilgrim menu (French fries)….. Now- vegetarian entrees (tasty)
Crowds: Then- no problems until Sarria…… Now- bed race almost every day.
Physical Demands: Then- Difficult….. Now- twice as difficult….

More on this later…

Last night I stayed in a private Albergue called Casa Magica. The place was fabulous, and then they offered a magnificent dinner as part of their offering. Dinner was to be a vegetarian paella. It turns out it was sensational.

After dinner I went directly to bed and fast asleep ….until 12:30. We awoke to the sound of fireworks (firecrackers) being lit in the narrow streets.

This went on for 20 minutes…and I struggled to get back to sleep the rest of the night.

The morning came with misty skies. As I walked my chest was cold and my back was overheating….. until I hit the steep slopes out of Estella. This is when I broke into a full sweat. Except for the short break at the famous wine fountain I continued the massive sweat.

Thankfully the cloud cover and mist stayed with us most of the day.

This portion of the walk is through rollng farm land. Lots of walking down hill, then immediately uphill…… Then repeat over and over.

One significant highlight of the day was the Roman Bath. This is a perfectly preserved building. Preserved isn’t the right word….this was built to last, and it has. Fully intact and built completely of stone, including the roof. Simply astounding.

Here’s a little hint….if you tap on any of these pictures you can see a higher quality and much larger image.

The last half of the day is without any break. Farm land rising and falling into Los Arcos. I think everyone feels this day is without end.

Coming into my final destination for the day (Los Arcos) I need to find a place to sleep. Without a reservation I was faced with finding a bed ASAP. The numbers of pilgrims is dramatically higher than my previous experience. At 2:30 in the afternoon I was in the first wave of pilgrims to arrive. The first Albergue I checked had  a single bed available. As I was checking in a stream of other pilgrims were being turned away as fast as they arrived. This is not something I’ve experienced before.

By the time I showered, and arranged for laundry to be done I decided to go into the Plaza Major. The place was packed! Here’s another difference between the years. I gave up on finding a spot and went back to my bed to rest for a couple of hours.

Later in the afternoon I returned and the main crowd had dissipated, and I found a seat with an English couple. We shared a pizza and more and more people I have seen on the trail started coming by. It’s nice to exchange waves and smiles.

When I arrived I had booked for the vegetarian dinner in the Albergue. A French couple and myself were the only people having dinner.

Mixing limited language abilities I understood the French couple were from a place 40 KM from Vimy. They said there were soooo many Canadians visiting this year because of the anniversary. I explained my cousin Doug was one of those people….but they couldn’t remember seeing the big smiling guy with the enormous moustache.

It was a wonderful salad, and a lentil stew, followed by a slice of ice cream cake. Really, such a tasty meal once again.

Sarah the Albergue owner told us this house was originally her Grandmother’s home. And she had decided to buy it from the family and convert it into an Albergue. She works here for 7 days straight, then her husband takes over for 7 days. As they alternate they take care of their two daughters at school in Lagrono.

I think being a farmer would be an easier life……