Before I retired, my life was very structured. On a work night, I made sure I had my workout clothes ready for the morning, my work clothes ready for the day, and my lunch to take to work the following day. The previous weekend I always planned our dinner meals because that saved me time on the week nights. It was very regimented.
As a retiree, I still have a structured life. However, there’s definitely a more relaxed approach to everything we do. If something can’t get done today, there’s always mañana. Life is busy but simple.
When planning our Camino trip, we didn’t really put too much thought into what our routines would be. We really focused on getting physically and mentally ready to walk. Being a Peregrino on the Camino, we’ve realized the importance of structure and routine. The most important reason for this is that we are not carrying our belongings with us each day and for most places, we are only spending one night. These two factors require us to be prepared for the day’s journey in ways we did not anticipate.
Let’s start with the night before a walk. Most of our preparation takes place then. After eating dinner, our night work begins and is compromised of several parts. First thing we look at is the weather, this will determine what we will wear or carry with us the next day. The mornings are much cooler now than when we first started, so long sleeves to start out with us a must!
Next, we look at our route. There are two things we research regarding our walk for the next day. One is the elevation gains/losses. This helps get us mentally prepared for what is ahead of us. The other is listing the towns we will be crossing and what there is to see or eat at each. This helps us chunk up our day and is especially helpful on long walk days.
Then comes the discussion about what time we should leave to start our walk which leads to wake up time. Knowing the temperature and mileage of our walk plays a big role in our decisions about time. We have left as early as 6:00 AM and as late as 8:30 AM. Again, it all depends on the number of miles and how hot it will get in the afternoon.
Our day’s routine is doing the walk. While walking, we pay attention to how we’re feeling. This helps us decide if we have to slow down, take a rest or sometimes speed up. Since we’ve already planned where we will stop, we keep track of our mileage to determine how much further we have to go. Part of the Camino is building the mental strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
In addition to our daily routine, we have an after walk routine. Jim and I like to stretch right away, take our showers, rest for a bit, then do a little walk around town. Wherever we are spending 2 nights, we also do our laundry. Most days we wait until dinner time to eat but we do snack on fruit and cashews. It’s quite a nice combination. Water is our best friend all day long.
Dinner time is usually no earlier than 7:00 PM which is a bit late for us. However, culturally the siesta time of 3:00-5:00 PM does lead to cafes and restaurants opening up for dinner between 7:00 and 8:00 PM. Most times we choose from the meal of the day which runs us anywhere between 12 to 15 euros per person and includes 3 courses plus a bottle of wine, a large bottle of water and bread. It’s truly a fantastic deal!
After dinner, the cycle begins again. Our pilgrim life is exactly that, ours. Everyone has their own version and there is no “right” way. You decide what is right for you based on what you want to get from this journey. Although this life is structured, it’s really one of staying in the moment. Each day is different even if you are doing the same routines. The only thing that is predictable is that step you take. A simple life with a meaningful purpose. It’s so beautiful!
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