Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim

This summer, Rivers teachers are embarking on a variety of activities through the school’s faculty enrichment grants, which aim to promote the intellectual growth of Rivers teachers through research, education, and other independent projects. Today, we hear from Alaina Cotillo, who is participating in the five-week St. James’ Way hike that starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

I have had difficulty recently pulling myself away from the Camino and back into the real world. For that reason, it has been quite a while since my last posting. My experience thus far has been everything I wanted and more. I am still in the process of reflecting upon my travels here, and in the meantime, I thought I would explain what a day in the life of a pilgrim is like.

My day starts around 5:30 a.m. when other pilgrims begin to wake up and make lots of noise packing their backpacks and making preparations for the day. Leaving the hostel about 45 minutes later, I hope that a bar or cafeteria will be open for breakfast but they almost never open until 7 a.m. After my morning café con leche and napolitana, I feel energized and get into my rhythm for the day. On the Camino, I have been walking between 18 and 26+ miles a day and because of that, my day mostly consists of walking and eating. I´ve learned that I need to stop for a few minutes to rest my feet and have a snack every two hours. Sometimes I think I´m on a tour of the pastelerías in Spain rather than a pilgrimage. As someone who loves sweets, I have loved eating anything I want and burning off the calories through my walks! I usually stop for lunch between 2 and 3 p.m. buying some bread, cheese, and meat from a supermarket as well as a few other assorted goodies and sit happily on a shady bench that protects me from the strong, Spanish sun. Arriving at the hostel between 4 and 6 p.m. the day might seem like it is over, but in reality, I´ve just completed the first part. Once I´ve checked in and had my pilgrim´s passport stamped, I still need to shower and wash my clothes by hand, the latter being my least favorite part of the day. Lastly, there are the preparations for dinner which depend on whether or not the hostel has a kitchen. If it does, I will buy pasta or salad ingredients and cook there. If there´s no kitchen, then it´s usually sandwich #2 with yogurt and/or chocolate for dessert. Bedtime is usually around 10 p.m. and if I´m lucky I fall asleep before the people around me start snoring. Although I wear earplugs, I am often still woken up by loud snores coming from all directions in the middle of the night; but that, I suppose, is part of the experience of being a pilgrim.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Eat a Spanish pastry for me! We miss and love you. Save travels!