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Ep 006 Camino de Santiago Discussion
We begin our episode of the Camino de Santiago Discussion with an excerpt from our book on day one of our Camino. Then, we discuss day one and how we felt about it.
You can find our book on Amazon, Walking the Camino de Santiago – An Ordinary Couple…On An Extraordinary Journey by Scott and Jaynie Wall.
The day we had been waiting months for had finally arrived! All of our training, hiking, and preparation would be put to the test. It was day 1 of our 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago.
I’m sure you can imagine how we felt as we made our way in the dark to our first Pilgrim’s Breakfast at 6:30a.m. Our host from the hostel gave us each a cereal bowl, a cup, and a spoon. We sat with two young Korean men and a man from Ukraine. Our host gave us orange juice and bread and then asked if we wanted coffee. I declined, as I was worried the coffee would bother me as we would be hiking at a higher elevation all day. The rest of the table said yes, and she proceeded to fill their cereal bowls full of coffee. Yes, their cereal bowls! Very little English was spoken, so the men watched Scott as he poured milk and sugar into his bowl. They followed suit and all drank their coffee from bowls. Scott and I wondered if it was the way coffee would be served on the Camino. Lucky for us, it didn’t end up that way other mornings. We did learn along the way that we would be given one glass and it would be used for wine, water and anything else at our meal.
We had a very minimal breakfast of juice, bread, and jam with very minimal conversation with our fellow pilgrims. Scott asked the Korean men how to say hello in Korean. They wrote it down on a piece of paper which Scott kept in his pocket for several days, ready to greet them or any other Koreans we may see along the way.
We hefted our packs and made our way up the street to the first of many yellow Camino arrows which would guide us the next 500 miles. Wearing long sleeves and shorts, we were comfortable in the darkness and fog.
We followed the main road uphill for the next five hours. Some areas were very steep, sometimes it was a dirt path next to horses or cows, and sometimes just a trail near the road. We saw other pilgrims like us, carrying our packs, with the faraway destination of Santiago de Compostela as our goal.
There were groups of pilgrims moving quickly without packs, they had shipped theirs ahead to be picked up at the end of the day. We met several people and chatted as we walked, but mainly we all said “Buen Camino” in passing, as it was a greeting which covered all languages.
We were amazed at how far up into the mountains we climbed. It was absolutely beautiful, as the rolling hills were dotted with livestock and it was so green.
We were surprised at how many older people were walking the Camino. Quite a few were between 60-80 years old! We walked with a little, old, French woman for a long time. Although we didn’t speak each other’s language, we did smile back and forth often. Scott and I stopped often to take pictures or eat a snack. We saw the little, old, French lady pass us by. Eventually, we passed her again, until the next time we took a break or were sidetracked by a flower we had never seen before or a horse walking by. Back and forth we went with the little, old, French lady. She took small steps and just kept on going all the time. I really admired her determination. Weeks later as we were walking the Camino, if I became tired or was climbing a steep hill, I told myself to keep taking small steps, don’t stop, be like the little, old French lady. I may not have seen her again after this day, but she was often in my thoughts.
One highlight of our day as we neared the top of our climb, was a man selling food and snack out of his van at the edge of the mountain. What a treat to eat hard-boiled eggs and drink iced tea for our lunch, with the most amazing views! Days later we would find out the man with the van was near the unmarked border of France and Spain, and he would have given us a stamp for our pilgrim passport!
Ending Our Day
Several hours later, as we were melting from the heat we drug ourselves into the tiny town of Roncesvalles. This was about 17 miles and 7.5 hours after we had started our walk.
We didn’t have reservations for rooms on the Camino, as we hoped to always find a place to stay each day. Unfortunately, we checked at a hotel and a hostel, but their rooms were already full. Luckily for us, we got one of the last rooms at the La Posada Hotel! Our host spoke Spanish and that was when we realized we weren’t even in France anymore! There was no noticeable border crossing or sign that we saw along the way. The hotel was very nice and included an excellent Pilgrim’s Dinner of lentil soup, pasta, and fish. In the morning we enjoyed lunch meat and pastries.
The main tourist attraction in town was the Collegiate Church. Exploring the grounds, we bought fresh cheese from a small vendor.
Day 1 was a great success and we couldn’t wait to see what other experience the Camino would bring us.
DAY 1: 17 miles and 7.5 hours of walking
End of Book Excerpt
Camino de Santiago Discussion
Scott: So many months of preparation for our hike over the Pyrenees. I felt like after all of our training we were ready for it.
Jaynie: It was definitely a long emotional day, but I think we did well.
Scott: I’m sure a lot of it was the excitement of this journey we were beginning.
Jaynie: Did anything surprise you about hiking over the Pyrenees and our first day of the Camino?
Scott: It was a lot steeper and rockier on the downhill than I thought it would be.
Jaynie: It was steeper uphill too!
Scott: What was something interesting you saw that day?
Jaynie: I saw a man carrying the huge wooden cross on his back. He was very steady going up the mountain.
Scott: The cross must have been 10 feet tall!
Jaynie: I think it’s common practice for pilgrims to take turns carrying crosses like that.
Scott: We were fortunate to begin the Camino in September with mild weather. Can you imagine crossing the mountains in the pouring rain?
Jaynie: It would be miserable in the snow too!
Scott: Were you feeling nervous about the 500 miles we had ahead of us?
Jaynie: I was nervous and worried about getting blisters and bedbugs, but I felt strong because we had trained with our backpacks before we left home.
Jaynie: How were you feeling that first day?
Scott: A nervous excitement, happy to have finally began this adventure. Curious if we could really accomplish it.
Jaynie: How did your pack feel?
Scott: My pack felt great and I was comfortable with it.
Jaynie: I think my pack felt a little bit heavy, I should have trained with more weight or brought less gear.
Scott: Did it stress you out when we couldn’t’ find a place to stay when we first arrived?
Jaynie: I figured we would find a place, I didn’t really want to sleep in a dormitory-style place on our first night though. So, I was happy to get a hotel room.
Jaynie: How did you like your first pilgrim’s dinner?
Scott: The three-course meal was good and it was fun to meet people from around the world at our table. Everyone was going through the same experience.
Jaynie: Thank you all for listening to Episode 006 today Camino de Santiago Discussion. We love to talk about the Camino and hope to share little bits and pieces through our podcast.
Scott: To follow along with our travels you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under Backpacking Detours.
To read more about our Camino experience click here.
7 episodes available. A new episode about every 3 days averaging 10 mins duration .