This is our last weekend of long training hikes. After three and a half months, we’ve walked over 110 hours and 300 miles (almost 500 km). We’ve done everything on the to-do lists, we’ve purchased all the gear and tested it, and we’ve packed, re-packed, and re-re-packed our backpacks. We’ve read forums and blogs, we’ve watched documentaries and slideshows, we’ve pored over guide books. We’ve arranged all the transportation from Dallas to France, and from Spain back to Dallas. We’ve overcome injuries, we feel strong and healthy, and we’re ready to get on a plane in less than two weeks.
And we’re trying not to panic.
Everything was fine actually, until we sat down last night with various books and maps spread out on the table, with the idea of figuring out where we might stay each night. We knew this was a somewhat futile endeavor because everyone says that any type of daily plan you make gets tossed out after the first couple of days on the Camino. For example, you may plan to walk to a particular town, but your feet may plan something entirely different that day, and suddenly the question of where to stay comes down to which albergue (hostel) is the fewest number of steps from where you’re currently standing. But we wanted to run through a few scenarios again anyway, since we hadn’t really looked at it since way back in January.
As we were looking through the list of towns we’ll be walking through, we discovered that most of them have at least one place to stay, but many are so small they don’t have a pharmacy, grocery store, restaurant, or ATM machine (almost everything has to be paid in cash). Another issue is that Kathey’s vegetarian, and Spain is decidedly not. The typical set “pilgrim meal” along the way consists of meat, meat, fish, and more meat. And a bottle of wine. I’ll be eating well — Kathey at least will have some good wine. So grocery stores might end up being more important than usual on this trip. And that’s when the conversation suddenly shifted.
“Ok, so let’s skip that town, and that one too, and stay in that larger one. Wait, how many miles is that?” And then the panic started to sink in. “Can we walk that far? How do people do this every day? Whose idea was this anyway? What were we thinking?!”
Wait, wait, wait. Take a breath. Don’t panic. We can do this. Remember that part about how we’ve walked over 300 miles? Remember all the training we’ve done? Remember the bottle of wine?
We’ll deal with the food issue like we always do, and we’ll stop when we get tired, regardless of the size of the town. It’s gonna be great.
So we leave in less than two weeks. And we’re trying not to panic.