I am kind of lazy. I have always hated the idea of exercising for the sake of exercising. I don’t mind hard work, but I prefer productive effort. I love the type of exercise that comes as a by-product of exploration or creativity. I love to walk, if I have somewhere to go. I love the squats and the muscular strain that comes with growing a garden. I love what living up a flight of stairs does for my behind. Jogging or walking an established path, or working out in a gym (or my living room) just bores me. I need to have my mind and spirit as engaged as my body is. So I thought that walking the Camino de Santiago just might be a great way for me to get in shape. I can spend weeks walking from village to village, marveling at new sights all along the way. It is a magical land full of medieval castles, gothic cathedrals, Roman bridges, vineyards, olive orchards and quaint villages, where storks build gigantic nests atop smokestacks and bell towers.
The guidebooks and the pilgrims forums all emphasize the physical difficulty of the Camino and the importance of training for it. I meant to train properly. I really did, but I never managed to go more than 6 or 7 miles. So, here I am on the Camino carrying a 17 pound backpack and walking distances that I have never walked before. How are we doing? Only time will tell. Our plan calls for averaging 10 miles per day (16 km).
On day one we walked from Pamplona to Uterga, about 16.9 km. Day two we took it easy and only walked to Puente La Reina, a distance of just 6.6 km. Day three we pushed through to Lorca, for a total of13.7 km. On day four we did 17.5 km ending in Villamayor de Monjardin. On day five we made it to Los Arcos. That would be an easy day of 12 km, but for the blisters I had gotten the day before. My feet and legs are sore, but the blisters are healing, today we walked 18 km from Los Arcos to Viana. And we arrived just in time to see the running of the bulls!
None of this has been easy walking, lots of uphill and downhill slopes, much of it quite steep and very rocky. However, it has been most rewarding. I am meeting good-hearted people from all around the world. I am learning more about myself and what I am capable of doing. I am learning to appreciate Trog ever more, he is so helpful and patient with me when I am struggling.
I spend my days surrounded by natural beauty and historic sites. In Villamayor de Monjardin, I slept in an ancient building, situated next to a medieval church, perched on the slopes of a castle-topped hill and overlooking a magnificent sparsely populated agricultural valley. Life is good!