For almost everyone on the Camino, and for those who are living this journey vicariously, there are so many things no one seems to mention. I have been surprised to find these things after missing them in so much research. Here is the current list:
1) At this point almost everyone has seen “The Way”. Right, let’s start with this… do you remember anyone breaking a sweat in this movie while climbing a mountain, or even a steep hill? I don’t remember this at all. Then how is it I have broken a full sweat every day, and been driven to near collapse virtually every day…..and no one has felt it important to indicate this walk is over some very extremely large bumps. (People have mentioned the Pyrenees I admit) consider yourself forewarned…..there are a lot of major climbs (and more importantly, descents) on the Camino Frances.
So these changes in altitude might not come as a surprise to some….but to a person, you are almost all shocked how much more difficult walking the decent is. I assure you, you will really appreciate this when you crest the Pyranees into Spain.
2) Another point avoided by everything I have read are the amount of burrs, nettles, thorn bushes and vegetation designed to throughly deter every living thing with a central nervous system. Run into one of these little beauties at the side of the road just once, and you will be hereafter in full automatic mode to avoid any contact. The paths are constantly lined with these bushy deterrents.
You should also remember when washing your clothes the burrs you have picked up during the day are distributed evenly to all clothing. (Think underwear…..)
3) Here’s another secret of the Camino. They are called flies; and if you would to like have one as a pet, you are in luck. This part of Spain has more than enough for each person this planet to have at least a hundred or so. You need to know the Spainish Pet Flies are seriously loyal. Once they bond with their owner you can expect them to buzz around your face for the entire day. There appears to be little danger you will accidentally lose your new friend. (s)
Much of the Camino is through farming country and there is a lot of furtilizer being spread, especially in the fall after the crops have come in. The warm end-of-summer conditions appear to be ideal for flies to multiply.
4) Poisonous snakes were a real surprise to me. We were on the trail yesterday and came across a baby snake, roughly 6″ long. Mark was sure it was poisonous because of the strike position this little serpent was taking. Later I looked this up and sure enough this was a poisonous snake. How poisonous I cannot say……probably enough to kill a mouse. Quite odd this never mentioned in any of the stories I read. (Post Camino Note: I did not see another snake again)
5) Jet lag. For any person coming in from a distant land there is a potential time difference. This difference results in a complete loss of energy around 3 in the afternoon. Still walking a long stretch…..this will be a guaranteed slump in demeanor. The last few kilometres should be expected to be excruciatingly slow. Do yourself an enormous favour and plan to take it very easy, especially during the first week. This plan will allow your body to break into the new regime.
6) I will try to be delicate with this one. If your biological clock is set and accustomed to say a morning constitutional, please review point number 5. Your morning constitutional will now be set 6 hours earlier, at least in my case. Depending on your original time zone the urge to go can come at a very bad time. There’s not much you can do about this until you change your internal clock settings.
7) Slugs. Slimy black slugs about 6″ long and about an inch thick. These slow moving creatures at time can litter the path we walk on. I don’t want to think of the consequences of stepping on one of these guys would be. Every now and then it appears someone has done exactly that….. Simply put….Yuk!
Today we rose this morning at 6:00am and were out of the Albergue at 6:30. Eddie’s feet have suffered significant damage. He will be forced to take the day off, and potentially more with our encouragement. After a stop at the town square for a bit of breakfast we headed down the trail. Today would be climbing over a smaller, albeit a significant mountain ridge.
The temperature continued to climb and as it turned out I wanted to be alone today. I set a rather fast pace which Bene was quite happy to keep, behind me. We did however walk together on some of the steep pitches as my lead was dissolved due to the change in terrain.
On one of the sections when we were joined by Susan and she asked me to sing the Canadian National Anthem to of the blue. I proceeded to let it rip as loudly as I could, complete with drums and fanfare at the end. (insert reader imagination here)
When I finished I then insisted Susan and Bonita sing the American National Anthem…… and then we enjoyed a solo performance of the Australian National Anthem from Bene. I’m not going to make many friends with this, but based on these three performances….. you would want to be a Canadian.
We had planned this to be shorter day. Just under 20 kilometres. After 3 hours of uphill trekking we stopped for a snack at the highest point and then proceeded to decent into the valley. The hills had changed this potentially shorter day into another full day. We finally dragged ourselves into in a sleepy little town called Viana. The “old town” is centered around a ruin and a citadel. Our Albergue is almost empty as many people have decided to continue onto Logrono.
Missing Viana is a serious mistake in my opinion. Many people say not to follow the Brierely guide book. I am starting to think this is perhaps true. Viana is simply a charming town overlooking Logrono in the distance.
My thinking is to have a rest day tomorrow. This idea may go over well with some and not with others…. we will have to see.
Oh yes, one other personal note. I have my first blister thanks to a burr in my sock. The blister formed on the top of my left foot. Now…..am I a Pilgrim, or what? (The preceding was a pathetic effort at humour, but I do have a tiny blister)