Part 1: I am currently mid-walk enjoying a nice break on a park bench, listening to the bells on the flock of sheep grazing nearby. Today’s walk so far:
A nice walk down through Cobreces and time to snap a few pictures of the beautiful historic buildings. Then, after about a mile, I came to a beach. I sat and enjoyed watching the waves and a few early risers playing with their dogs in the sand. After the beach, the trail led uphill, up to the top of the headland where a nice little bench overlooked the sea. I decided to sit and enjoy both the view and the peaches I bought at the market yesterday.
While I was on peach #2, a pilgrim came up the hill and I recognized him from the albergue last night. As he came near, I realized I had sprawled across the entire bench and called out to him. “I can move my things to make a space if you’d like to sit,” I said with a welcoming smile.
He looked up, with mild stress showing on his face, “No. No, I can’t stop. I have to walk 30 kilometers today.” And he hurried along his way.
And there it is. I respect his choice and offer no judgement, but I would much rather be me. With only 10k to walk today I have plenty of time to enjoy myself. My gait is relaxed and easy, I stop to enjoy the views, and I have not a worry or care in the world.
After my stop, I came to a small farming village and saw a little enclosure where a kitten was playing with some ducks. I took a few moments to stand there, laughing hysterically at the antics on display. I love kittens.
You see, I am fully cured. There is a Camino virus spreading around that often results in a syndrome called Pilgrim Fever. A terrible affliction.
Common symptoms include: multiple foot blisters with possible bleeding sores, toenails that fall off, aching stiff legs, foot pain, a characteristic hurried limping waddle, intense facial expressions reflecting pain and/or stress, a sense of rushing and urgency, aching back and shoulders, and a strong belief that anything less than 25 kilometers in a day is tragically unacceptable.
I caught said fever and became symptomatic, but then I managed to fight it off before fully succumbing to the illness. Now, I am actually enjoying myself. After all, I have no need to prove anything. Not to someone else and not to myself. I COULD walk 30k in a day, but WHY? Seriously, I have no desire to do it.
I can see that many people on the Camino are in a subtle competition. There is some bragging in the albergues about how far you walk. After that, some will brag about how hard it was, some will brag about how easy. Pretty much the first questions pilgrims ask each other is how far you walked today, where and when did you begin your Camino, do you go all the way to Santiago, and how many times have you done the Camino. But, never do they ask if you enjoy it.
Oh, and if you walked less than 20k….they get an odd look and ask if you are ok. Really. As if walking less than 20k must mean you are sick, injured or disabled. One pilgrim last night asked me pretty much that….and I proudly said, “No. Not sick or injured or disabled….just very happy.” He looked confused.
Well, my little break on this bench turned into a long one, and that’s not a problem because I have only a few kilometers left to walk until I reach Comillas. Part 2 coming later…
Part 2: I walked through a few more villages, including one with a Saturday street market that was fun to explore. Then I enjoyed more of the countryside before I arrived in Comillas. The hostel/albergue here is the nicest I have ever seen. Once showered, I walked around a tiny bit, had lunch, stopped at the market, got sleepy, and came back to the hostel for a siesta. It is a hard life on my Camino 😂
I’m glad I got provisions at the market already because I think I will just read and relax here tonight. I have another night here in Comillas before I begin my journey home, so there’s plenty of time to see the sights and enjoy the beach tomorrow. Oh, and I need to buy some things for my niece and nephews now that I’m done walking and I don’t have to worry about the extra weight in my bag.