I now know my schedule.
I want to be in Santiago for the Sunday Pilgrim's Mass. It's on the Sunday that they swing the giant incense burner – the Botafumeria – and having seen it on docos, I'd like now to see it for real.
It would be a fitting end to this extraordinary experience.
Again, let me state that I'm not Catholic, and I don't follow an orthodox religion. As I said earlier, in the last census I put down that I was a Buddhist because they've had a rough time in Tibet and I figured they needed my statistical support.
That said, I'm on a pilgrimage. And I'd like to be there for that Sunday Mass.
To get there in time, I will have to do a couple of 30km+ days in the next week. I want to try and get to Samos tonight, and stay in the monastery there. I was there two years ago with my wife – we were driving through and stopped at a cafe for a coffee, and found the monastery by accident.
(There are no accidents, right?)
At the time, I had a hankering that I wanted to walk the Camino, and the place struck me as being something very special. Very calm. Very spiritual. And the monastery is supposed to be one of the largest in western Europe. I'd now like to go back as a pilgrim.
However, it's an option on the route, and adds another 7 kms to the day's tally. For me though, it's important to go back. What's 7 kms when I've done 650 kms?
If I do make it to the Sunday mass, then that means I will have walked the Camino in 32 days. With 3 rest days. So my actually walking days, or hobbling days sometimes, would be 29.
Some of you might think that's too fast, however let me say, and others along this path who've seen me walking will vouch for this – I could not have gone much slower!
Even when I'm full throttle I barely break 4 kms/hr. And most of the time I've been doing 3 kms an hour, both because of injury, and because I stop and take photos.
Most pilgrims are averaging 5-6 kms an hour. However they take long rest breaks. And they usually end their day at 1pm or 1:30pm.
I don't rest. I just walk. (One day I walked 22 kms without stopping for a break.) And I'll often walk until 4pm or 5pm.
People who've passed me during the day are amazed to find that I'm ahead of them the next day. They reckon I've bussed it, or taken a taxi! It's just that I'll finish late and leave early.
So I don't feel I've rushed the Camino. Like I said, I don't think I could have done it much slower.
What I've learnt from all this is that I've got a lot of stamina, and I'm much stronger both physically and mentally than I thought I was. But my theory is that the Camino infuses you with energy, from the soul imprints of all those who've been before.
I truly believe this.
Oh yes, and Coke Zeros help too…
So that's my schedule. I hope I can do these next few long days.
For those of you who have very kindly told me to slow down because they don't want the blogs to end, let me say that even after I've finished, I want to do a series of blogs doing an “audit” of the whole experience – practically and metaphysically.
For instance, I want to do a blog on my expectations of walking the Camino, versus the reality. I want to explore the question: Is the Camino a spiritual journey or just an adventure holiday? And I'd like to post my top ten photos that I've taken. Things like that.
So there'll be more blogs!
Now, it's actually 3:32am here (damn you Camino, why couldn’t it have been 3:33?) so I better get back to sleep. I have 32 kms to walk today if I'm to get to the monastery at Samos.