As a rule the day starts early usually around 6am, if you are in a dormitory others are up and moving at that stage so a lie in is impossible, plus you are required to vacate by 8am. If you have a chance to lie in you must weigh the extra time in bed with the extra time walking in the full heat of the midday sun.
We often are on the trail before 7am and as we make our way out of town we are joined by other pilgrims, some are friends from previous stages, others we know to see along the way as we leap frog each other along the path. Either way we leave town to chimes of Hola, Buenos Dias or more frequently the traditional greeting of pilgrims Buen Camino (good walk)
The night before we will usually figure out a place about an hour into the morning to stop and have breakfast. Many pilgrims will have made the same plan and we will drink coffee and eat something while discussing our plans for the day ahead. The weather forecast is a hot topic for these breakfast stops. Then it is backpacks on, sticks in hand and off to our next destination.
Some days are busy on the trail with a wave of pilgrims moving along, other days we have walked hardly encountering another person all day, this happens when we might decide on a later start (for shorter walks) or take a detour from the main route of which there are many. It is fun to walk with new people and chat but it is equally rewarding to have time alone with your thoughts. I often have a song for the day which I hum or sing along the way. As we spent a morning slowly making our way to the windmills of Alto deal Perdón a few days ago I had the sound track for the Man of La Mancha playing in my head!
We have a rhythm to our day which usually involves walking one and half to two hours, then a break. Usually it is a short break 15-20 minutes, but at the halfway point we will take a longer break of an hour or more, when we take off our boots, let our feet breath, make running repairs if necessary and change socks. As you can imagine foot care is vital, the minute you feel any hot spot or pinch, you don’t wait, it is dealt with immediately to avoid a much worse situation developing.
Our final destination for the day is always a welcome sight. We will make our way to our home for the night, which varies from town to town. Often we are so weary on arrival we swear we are going straight to bed but it is amazing what a hot shower some fresh clothes and the promise of a hot meal will do for a weary pilgrim. Once the body and the equipment has been tended to we make our way to the local watering hole for a meal and to share stories with new and ‘old’ friends.
Lights out is not much later than 10pm, us pilgrims need our beauty sleep.