It is hard to notice patterns we have in our lives until we are forced to break them. When we eat. When we sleep. What level of activity we have. Whom we spend out time with. For me, this Camino seems to be a time of of breaking patterns.
Th most obvious thing in Spain is the daily schedule. Aside from a really long lunch time (Noon until 3:30 p.m.) almost everything else shuts down in this country. Museums and churches are closed. Pharmacies and banks lock their doors. The streets look deserted. The Spanish really get going after eight at night. It presents an interesting challenge for people who are used to the daily patterns of American life.
On top of this, there is another new pattern, “Pilgrim hours.” Get up at 6:30 a.m. Eat a small breakfast. Walk seventeen miles (with a coffee and snack break along the way). Find a place to stay. Get a shower. Wash some clothes. Find something to eat – maybe a big lunch. Try not to drink too much wine. Walk around and see the sights (as if you haven’t already done enough of that.) Get an evening snack. Read and communicate a bit. Sleep at 8:00 p.m. Repeat.
I think I have finally hit my groove. I am learning how important it is to put my feet up. Learning how helpful it is not to eat a large, late meal. I am learning to be flexible with what is, rather than demanding what I want or what I am used to. I think that is part of the key to joyful travel. That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for what I need or want, it just means I take the perspective of a learner, a beginner, of someone who is open to what comes. If I don’t want to do this, why travel anyway?
And so I go to bed earlier than I am used to. I walk farther than is my common practice. I stay in rooms with many more people than I ordinarily choose to. I talk with people along the way even though I might prefer silence. I try to speak a language that I find difficult. I eat different food, at different times, in different ways than has ever been my pattern. It is fun, it is frustrating, it is filling. Really.
Today we travelled about 15 miles of what is said to be part of the Calzada romana, one of the longest remaining stretches of the Roman road in Spain today. Not like the big paver stones of Roman roads in Italy, but a different kind of stone, almost river rock, carefully spread and compacted. Interesting, and not as easy on the feet as you might hope. Those Romans are everywhere.