Today was our most challenging day so far. A very muddy path for about 4 miles of today's 13 miles. It rained much of yesterday, soaking the dirt road. We arrived at the municiple albergue San Estaban in Castroheriz before today's heavy rains, but the forecast is for rain the next three days.
We've been asked "what is a typical day like?". Since it seems that we have had several typical days lately, we thought it would be a good chance to go through our normal activities. Sunrise in Spain is quite late during October, about 8:30 this week, and as late as 9:00 am by the end of the month. We chose not to bring headlamps, so we wait until natural light provides what we need to both see the Way markers, and minimize the risk of taking a fall. Right now 'walking light' is a few minutes before 8:00. We try to walk for between 90 minutes and two hours between stops, taking 3 or 4 breaks each day. The stops are rarely more than 30 minutes, usually much less. We have a list of songs from which pick a "song of the day", and say a prayer together. We try to do these things on our first break, although the morning rains have changed our routine the last couple of days.
We've learned, when we stop at a cafe, to order hot milk and carry instant coffee to add to it. Most mornings there is a little town with one or two small cafes along the path. We find ourselves hungry for nutrition, and the shops give a larger glass when we order hot milk than when we order coffee. On the cool days, a hot drink is such a blessing (today the temperature remained betwen 48F and 54F all day, and quite wet). Most days we carry several snacks to get us through the walk, choosing to not eat a large meal until we arrive at our destination for the day.
Finding a bed is the first task upon arrival. Most towns have good signs to the albergues. Our stay begins with showers. Then clothes washing, finding a grocery or restaurant, visiting with our 'new' housmates, writing in our journals, and of course this blog. Sometimes a short nap. About twice a week we go to a local church for a "pilgrim blessing". It is a very old tradition here to gather the pilgrims at the front of the auditorium and pronounce a blessing over them. It is normally in Spanish, so we only partly 'get it', but it is very meaningful for us, and it obviously is important to the congregants.
Lights out by 10pm, usually earlier. In a room of 10 or more, the snoring begins shortly. We are stirring by 6:45am, and begin the routine again. We have just recently started buying a liter of milk in the afternoon, and carrying a bit of cereal - maybe three days worth. The milk is enough for one hot glass-full in the evening, and milk with coffee in the morning, and a bowl of cereal, so we don't carry it.
Several towns along the Way have interesting historical sites, such as the cathedral in Burgos or the Templar Castle in Ponferada. If we can handle more walking we will make a short visit.
Here are a few pictures of our "everyday life".