Stage 17: Terradillos de los Templarios to Bercianos del Real Camino
Official: 22.99 km // iPhone Step Count: 23.6 km
Having crossed the official half way point on the Camino the days blur together. The rhythmic routine runs a continual thread that connects one day to the next.
6:00AM — Alarms buzz. Bags wrestle. Upon each bed, pilgrims attend to their feet. Bandages are re-applied. Various sprays, lotions, and ointments—an alchemist’s dream of remedies—are lathered over feet in hopes to curing and preventing blisters. Once the proper potions are prescribed, pilgrims gingerly affix their socks and climb carefully down their bunks hopelessly trying to avoid waking any late sleeping pilgrims.
6:30AM — With bags packed and stuffed tight, pilgrims gather in the common spaces to adorn their shoes, the last step in morning preparations, which have been drying overnight in a separate space. Once tied and properly adjusted, boots hit the ground and sticks clank; the day begins.
8AM ~ 9AM — After a quick 5-10 kilometer walk, the morning sun finally calls the shops and bars to open. Breakfast. Café con leche caffeinates the next leg and the egg and potato tortilla lines the stomach providing the caloric energy needed for the remaining kilometer.
10AM ~ 12M — Before the heat of the sun can bear down upon the trail, pilgrims speed across the path. Blisters and feet quickly become numb under the weight of the pack pounding upon the ground. An occasional break may be necessary to adjust shoes, exchange socks, or rest legs, but the pilgrim knows that if the pause is too long the aches and pains will set in and it’ll be difficult to begin moving again.
Before 1PM — After a quick hustle, we generally arrive to our destination, hopefully before the sun begins to shine upon our faces, and wait for the albergue to open.
2PM ~ 4PM — Pilgrims stretch upon their beds, nap, and if lucky find the one bar in town that’s open during siesta for some source of food.
6PM — Depending on the particular albergue, communal dinner preparations begin or the supplies from an earlier supermercado visit develop into an individual or small group meal.
7PM — Pilgrim masses and prayer services begin sharing blessings and petitions for the journey.
8PM — If dinner has not already been eaten, pilgrims make their way to bed, packing bags in preparations for tomorrow’s walk.
10PM — Lights out! If you dare make noise past this hour you’ll surely receive a curse for walk ahead.
This ritualistic regimen allows each day to flow steadily into the next. Towns seem like mere fueling stations along the ancient route, their names fading into the wind.
The beautiful simplicity of our daily schedule allows life to flow with absolute ease. We know our needs. We know what we carry. We know our eventual end goal, but our daily destinations decided based on the strength of our legs. Some days we follow the suggested route, others we carry on further.
This basic schedule allows each day to surprise you with unexpected stories and unfolding wisdom.
Our task as pilgrims is simply to walk one-day-at-a-time. Anything else that occurs is by grace alone.