A Day in the Life: On the Camino de Santiago

On Friday I’ll begin my third Camino. My friend Lois and I will walk ten miles per day for fifty or so days, reaching our goal of Santiago, Spain sometime in early November.

Some people’s eyes grow wide when they hear we’re walking ten miles in a day. “Well, think about it,” I explain. “If you’re only job was to walk every day, you could do ten miles, too.” I then explain the mathematics of it all, which may or may not help depending on one’s childhood experiences with numbers. But in a nutshell, it’s this: normal walking pace is three miles per hour. So it takes 3.5 hours to walk ten miles. And we have all darn day!

In fact, my day on the Camino is a lot like those of you working folks. After waking, I get dressed, pack up for the day and eat some breakfast. And about 8 o’clock I depart to begin my “work” day. I “work” for two hours, stop for coffee break. Then another two hours and I stop for lunch. Then another two hours.

And here’s where my day may differ a little from that of the working folk: I’m done at 2. I shower, change my clothes, do some laundry, and if all goes as planned I’m sitting on a piazza with a glass of wine by 3. I spend the next six or so hours catching up with friends, maybe doing a little grocery shopping, eating some dinner, then I’m off to bed.

There are a few other differences, as well:

  • The place I leave from in the morning is not the same one I return to at night.
  • Breakfast is shared with anywhere from one to twenty people. As are my coffee breaks and lunch breaks. And it could be twenty people from twenty different countries.
  • I see my friends nearly every day—or at most every few days. In person.
  • They only ever see me in one of two outfits, as that is all I have.
  • These friends of mine are people I’ve known only for a few hours or a few days.
  • Our conversations rarely have anything to do with our jobs. Or the headlines.  Why we’re here on the Camino is an often answered question whose answer can lead to a conversation that may go on for hours–a conversation in which I may learn about the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the end of a career, the questions one is seeking answers to.
  • I drink more wine on the Camino than I ever do in my life in the States. Partly because people like to buy me drinks, which is partly because they can buy a round for ten people for about fifteen dollars.
  • I go to bed earlier than I ever do in the States. And don’t need a book to read before my eyes close—my body slips into sleep not long after my head finds my pillow.
  • The bed in which I sleep each night rarely has sheets.
  • I share my room with one or two or fifty other people.
  • I don’t need an alarm. My roommates will begin rousing themselves long before I care to wake myself.

And every morning I’m happy to do it all over again.  This, I hope, is how you feel each day when you wake up as well.


p.s. Though I haven’t written much in the last two months, I’m hoping to return to this blog many times in these next two months. If you don’t want to miss a thing I recommend subscribing to the blog (upper right)–that way you’ll get an e-mail every time I write something.

And for those of you looking to procrastinate whatever it is you’re “supposed” to be doing at this hour, here’s a link to things I wrote my first time on the Camino. -Rebecca