CDHi President’s Blog – Walking on the Camino Ingles for CDH – April 3, 2024

Day three of CDH Awareness Month and day two of walking the Camino Inglés on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

I worked until about midnight on the computer and then passed out. I did not get half the things done that I needed to. I was just so tired. It’s hard to concentrate when I’m not tired.

I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning this morning, wide awake and ready to go. I have no idea why I had so much energy, but even though my body is exhausted, my brain never stops working. I convinced myself that it was smarter to just stay in bed and get some more rest. I eventually fell back asleep about 4 AM and then woke up at nine this morning, which was much later than I had planned on waking up.

Physically, I’m doing okay. My feet are a little sore, but they’re doing fine. My legs are a little jittery from using muscles that I rarely ever use because I’m a desk jockey most of the year. My back is doing okay, which is a miracle considering that I constantly have back issues. But my shoulders are killing me, and my neck is not in the best shape. I am going to have to lose some weight out of this backpack.

I’ve already left things behind the last two mornings, and I am trying to decide what else I can leave. My sleeping bag takes up a good 60% of the backpack; it is a necessity on the Camino. I also have a sleeping bag sheet, which is kind of like a sheet pocket, that I’m contemplating getting rid of. The issue is that all of my valuables will be stored at the bottom of my sleeping bag when I’m sleeping, if I am in a dorm room. I am the type of person who is cold if my feet are cold. So, either I’m going to be wearing socks and freezing, or I’m going to be hot and my feet are going to have to come out of the bottom of the sleeping bag, but I have the sheet pocket because I can unzip the bottom of the sleeping bag and my feet can get cooler. I know this sounds like a ridiculous issue, but both of those things add weight to the backpack. So, I need to decide what to do. The weather here is crazy because it’s spring. Today I walked around in a T-shirt with my raincoat and my sweatshirt tied around my waist. Yesterday it was freezing cold and wet. Where I’m staying tonight is very warm in my room, but the rest of the place is freezing cold, so I have no idea what to pack. I’m afraid to let either one of those things go.

I left behind my rubber boot covers. They were a little heavy, and I haven’t used them even though I’ve been walking around in the mud and the rain, so I figured that I could let those go. I also left behind my flashlight, my chewing gum, and a pack of diaper wipes.

I think the selfie stick is the next thing to go, and one of my shirts.

I have the sweatshirt, three charity T-shirts, and a very light travel long-sleeve button-up shirt. I also have my favorite long-sleeve cotton shirt, which has come in handy when I’ve had to dry out my sweatshirt and it’s been cold. Giving up the non-race charity T-shirt, I also have two pairs of pants, one pair of sleep shorts, and four pairs of wool hiking socks.

Everyone in the Camino groups that I belong to has told me I packed too many clothes. I always pack too many clothes when I travel, but after soaking my sweatshirt in the rain yesterday, and my pants and socks, I am not regretting packing so many clothes. None of those clothes were dry by morning. I had my pants wrapped around my waist as well, so they could dry as I walked during the day. I had my socks safety-pinned to my backpack so they could dry. Wet clothes are exponentially heavier to carry than dry clothes.

Most Camino pilgrims only pack two outfits and a very lightweight sleeping outfit so they can wash clothes every day. I can’t imagine washing clothes every single day and then dragging wet clothes with me every morning, so my plan was always to take the third or fourth day off to rest and work on the computer, so that I didn’t push myself too hard. I can’t get stuck out here injured and alone. So I’m going to stick with that original plan and wash clothes on those rest days so that the clothes have a night and a full day to dry, but that means that I have to have enough clothes to carry with me, or I could smell. I honestly see why hitchhikers don’t care about grooming so much. I feel like a bag lady right now, with things tied around my waist and socks flying off my back, but the thing about being on the Camino is that everyone looks like a bag lady, so no one’s judging.

But overall, I’m doing pretty good. I’m just trying to still figure out the logistics of everything.

The sun came out today! It was cloudy and very, very windy, but the sun broke through every once in a while and it was gloriously warm. It was a little too warm, so I didn’t wear my sweatshirt or raincoat today. It was nice!

I overslept this morning, so Ricardo left without me, and I don’t blame him. That’s part of the Camino. We meet on the way, and sometimes we walk the same pace, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we see them again, and sometimes we won’t. It’s quite a metaphor for life, isn’t it?

I saw 12 pilgrims on the Camino today! I spoke to a few, but mostly we were all on different paces.

One couple in particular was a bit annoying. We were walking through a town and apparently, there is a “Nuevo” (new) path for the Camino Inglés in certain areas that try to bypass things like traffic or just odd roads. So this couple was looking at their map and saw me going one way, and they decided to take the shortcut. They were pushing me towards the “Nuevo Camino” and I was politely trying to tell them no, but they were getting pretty pushy. And I said, “No, Nuevo Camino para mí. Antigua Camino para mí.” I’m really not sure if I said that the Camino was old or that I am old, but I guess both apply.

I didn’t come this far to take shortcuts. If pilgrims for a thousand years went one way, I am going that way too. If I have to climb rock walls or slide under ruins… I’m doing that. I hope that I don’t have to do that.

By 4 o’clock, it started to sprinkle, and my legs were really hurting from the walk because it was steadily inclining up to the top of the hills all day. The view was absolutely beautiful, but it was a lot of climbing. I looked at my phone app for the Camino and the next village with hostels or hotels was almost 2 hours’ walk away, so I decided to call it a day and got a room in the place where I was. This pilgrim hotel probably has 200 rooms, but I am the only guest.

It’s not listed on any of the Camino apps, or booking, Priceline, or any of the discount travel apps that I frequently use. I happened to see it on my iPhone map and decided to walk to it to see if they had any rooms available. I waited for at least 45 minutes for someone to come to the desk. If it wasn’t a two-hour walk to the next hotel, I would’ve left. Apparently, the manager and his family live here in this big hotel, so it’s me in my room with three floors of rooms, completely empty, and the manager and his family somewhere. It’s quite creepy, a bit like “The Shining.” Well, I hope it’s not. I really don’t know why murder came up in two of my blog posts in a row. I’m fine.

Most of the hostels and hotels that serve the Camino pilgrims have set menu prices and set room prices for pilgrims. They are quite cheap compared to most hotel prices and affordable for pilgrims who are living out of our backpacks for weeks or months at a time. For $35, I had a room tonight, dinner, and breakfast for the morning. But the menus are set menus, so you either have no choice or very few choices. I ordered the chicken and it came out on the plate floating in gravy, surrounded by french fries, posing like it was waiting for me to take a photo, literally on its side. I couldn’t help but laugh when he put the plate down.

Back in the hotel room and trying to get the virtual ribbons caught up, as well as the celebrity posts which are now a day behind, email is hopelessly behind at the moment, and a few other projects that are due. It’s now almost 1 AM again and I need to get some sleep for mountain climbing tomorrow.

Buenas noches.

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