At 6 AM the albergue lights flash on like lightning. Suddenly, sleeping bags rustle as they are stuffed into sacs, zippers zip up and down, sandals shuffle along the wood floors, whispers and outright talking fill the air. These are the sounds of morning life in the albergue.
Ryan and I tend to get up at 6 and are on the road by 6:30 or 7. We eat a quick bite of yesterday’s sausage, cheese and bread, fasten on our headlamps and head out of the city. Our lights flash around the dark streets looking for arrows that point the way. The first hour is the most difficult as our muscles warm and our brains come to terms with the truth of another day’s walk. The sunrise quickens this process and we begin to scan the horizon for the first village where we’ll stop for espresso and breakfast.
For the next 5-7 hours we walk. So many things cross the mind. This is so beautiful. This is so hard. This is so peaceful. This is is so crazy. The conversations go from surface to deep to silent then make the rounds again. We slow pace and exchange physical/emotional conditions with friends and strangers that we come along side. “Buen Camino!” is heard over and over again.
When we finally reach our destination, our next task is to find the albergue we want to stay in. The check in process is always the same. Take your boots off and leave them with your poles outside the entryway. Give the hospitalero your passport and your credencial. At each place you stay, your credencial is stamped. This proves you have actually walked and is needed when you get to Santiago in order to get your Compostela, the official document awarded to bona fide Pilgrims.
Once checked in we lay out our sleeping bags, organize our space, shower and either do laundry or find a restaurant for lunch. Many people takes naps. The rest of the afternoon and evening is spent exploring the town and hanging out with friends. Dinners are generally cooked in the albergue kitchens. Tonight, the Italians are cooking and tomorrow night Ryan and I! This is a very rich time!
Lights generally go out at 10 but most are in bed before that. The next morning we do it again!
One additional thing. These Europeans are not as modest as most US Americans. Many walk around in their Speedo-type underwear, no matter the gender, age or body type. Some shower areas are shared by men and women with shower curtains flapping a sneak peek. It’s taken some getting used to for me but now it’s just part of the daily experience.
Ryan putting the paper/plastic sheet and pillowcase on the bed.
I have more photos but this is the second day the wifi has been weak and won’t upload photos.
And, now I have strong wifi so I’ll add the rest of the photos!
To those of you who were hoping for photos of the not so modest Europeans….come on! Get your head in the right place! 🤣
I did hear a story today of a 60+ year old man from Europe who was sharing a room with 4 mid-60 year old women and 2 other people. He was certain to tell the 4 women that he only desired younger women and to not get any ideas. Apparently, he was quite cocky. The next morning, he was laying on his back on his bunk wearing only his very small underwear and exercising. Legs stretched fully out in the air, he was apparently working his upper inner thighs…together, spread, together, spread…..😳
Note: this is obviously a generalization. The men I have met from Europe are wonderful and quite endearing.