Today felt easy peasy. In fact, I am happy that I had a reservation in Hornillos or I may have been tempted to go on to Hontanos, another 11km from here. I am what they call a “fresh pilgrim,” one who just joined the Camino. You can tell by my clean clothes, a little lift in my step and incessant picture taking. Fresh pilgrims get added to the Camino everyday, but especially in Sarria which is the closest town to Santiago de Compostela from which you can walk (at least 100k) and still get your Compostela (certificate).
I left Burgos at 7am with my head lamp at the ready. Sunrise isn’t until 8:05am and I really prefer getting started earlier in the morning. Luckily the Camino rush hour was on and I was able to follow several pilgrims out of Burgos. Had I been on my own, I definitely would have taken longer and likely would have gotten lost.
I didn’t see the beautiful city gates in the park where Martin Sheen bid adios to his newfound gypsy friend. This is what Informed me I was leaving Burgos.
I didn’t end up needing the headlamp and within an hour of leaving luckily turned around to see a beautiful sunrise at the perfect time.
I stopped for breakfast after about 13km in Rabe de las Calzadas. I am trying to focus my morning meal on protein more than carbohydrates (chocolate croissant) as I did last year. So, I had a slice of tortilla (similar to an egg and potato frittata) which was delicious and provided great fuel to get me into Hornillos just after noon.
One mistake I think I made training is that I always had an RX Bar with me and would eat a portion of one on each training walk. Creature of habit that I am, I started craving my RX Bar fix about 5km into the walk. Even though I typically only eat 1/3 of a Bar when I walk, it is filling and energizing. (RX Bar, Venmo me a commission if you want.) I only brought two bars with me and they are my emergency food so they are off limits. I think tomorrow I will keep a little trail mix handy as a stand in for the RX Bar.
Faster Walking Gets You There Sooner
I passed several pilgrims on the way to Hornillos. YES! I passed people. Don’t misinterpret this as some kind of competition. It is just reality. My average pace was between 3-4km/hour. My goal this year is to average 4-5km/hour. In my training this summer I averaged 5km/hour.
Here is why this is important. If I walk 20km at 4km/hour it will take me 5 hours. But, if I walk at 5km/hour those same 29km will take just 4 hours. I read a study that concluded the extra effort expended to walk a little faster is tiny compared to the extra effort to walk for longer at a slower paste. It isn’t that I want to get the walking DONE, but I want to be able to enjoy the towns I stay in and have a relaxing afternoon.
I was making great time. And then I walked past a pilgrim who started talking with me. From behind I noticed he was walking slowly, depending on a cane. I ended up walking with Juan for about 3km. He is from Spain and was a career officer in the Spanish Army. He lived for 3 years in the US and loves our country. He told me about his family and where he has lived in Spain. He also gave me a great history of this country starting over 1000 years ago. At first when I started walking with Juan, I thought, “this is going to screw up my km/hour average.” But then I remembered the real reason I am here and totally enjoyed Juan’s company.
Coming into Hornillos there is a somewhat steep downhill and Juan explained he has blisters and would bid me adios so he doesn’t slow me down. What a great way to make sure he takes care of himself and doesn’t allow another pilgrim to dictate his pace.
I won’t see Juan again. He was going to Hontanos tonight and will be leaving the Camino in two days as he is doing the Trek in one week segments each year. This is how the Camino works. People come and go…literally and figuratively.
It is so great to be back in Spain on the Camino. I will say that it is different than my experience last year. You are only a virgin pilgrim once. The excitement, fear, anticipation, nervousness can’t be compared to the first time you start walking the Camino.
I have some friends who will start their virgin pilgrimage later this week in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I am so excited for them. I met with them several months ago to share my experience and tips, but have been careful not to give up too much about what they can expect. They deserve to learn it in their own time. Buen Camino Paul and Elizabeth!