The demeanour of a saint (or pilgrim) in the face of reality

This morning whilst planning my Camino itinerary I stumbled upon some inconsistencies; some pretty significant inconsistencies.  Some resources say that the distance from Burgos to Santiego de Compostela is 460km and that it is 200km from Burgos to Leon – logically that would mean that the distance from Leon to Santiago de Compostela is 260km.  Apparently the actual distance is more like 300-320km (I haven’t been able to find two resources that completely agree).  This is most likely due to the fact that the Camino does not follow the shortest route to Santiago de Compostela and has several options for longer and shorter walks between some points.  There is, however, an official Camino route but I guess everyone has been too busy walking it to measure it accurately…

That kind of ambiguity is making the planning phase rather difficult.  I have been working with 260km as a total distance but now it seems I have an extra distance of 40km or 60km to factor in – that’s 2-3 extra days or 3-5 extra kilometres per day.  I have been planning on averaging 20km per day so I could complete the walk in 13 days with 2 days over for rest stops and exploring Santiego de Compostela.  Clearly something has to change.  I can’t leave Paris earlier because I need all the time I can get to recover from jet lag.  I can’t leave Santiago de Compostela later as I already have my flight booked (changing it would cost a fair bit).  I can’t fill up my rest days, they’re my lifeline.  My only options seem to be; walking further each day or walking less in total.  I don’t particularly want to do either but it seems I have no choice.  Quelle Catastrophe!  Oops, I should be practicing Spanish not French – Lo que una catastrofe (according to google translate)!

I don’t like overreaching myself unless I know I am doing it and chose to anyway, then it’s my own fault if I fail.  But lets be realistic here, even though right now I would prefer to kick realistic’s ass, or a wall, or anything else for that matter because I HATE having to back down or change things or step aside (just breathe Claire, remember you are doing this for you, not anyone else – nobody is walking with you, nobody will think less of you for acknowledging you are human, nobody except for myself that is).  Ok, so aiming to do 260km is a big ask but I genuinely believe that it would be achievable for me under certain circumstances.  If I had 6 months to plan, if my health was more reliable and could rely on not being affected by jet lag for long, if I just had more time to play around with I’m sure I would be fine.  But I don’t.  Why am I always so unrealistic about time frames?  I guess a part of me, even after everything, still thinks I am invincible and can do whatever I set my mind to.  This weekend has been a bit of a reality check – I am still unwell, I can’t rely on my body to be well by the time I leave just because I decide it should be. Damn.

To be honest, the thought of those extra 40-60km’s terrifies me.  And I mean sick-to-the-stomach, cold-sweats and nightmares terrifies me.  They signify something insurmountable to me, as if all the fears I have had about this walk have materialised in the form of those extra kilometres – 260km was the limit, we have now gone over the limit.  There is no; “can’t go over it, you can’t go under it you’ll have to go through it” – this is not a bear hunt and there is no way around it that I can see.  I feel pretty pathetic right now.  But it’s not just my crappy body letting me down or all in my head, really!  I simply don’t have the time, I made an error in planning.  I’m sure Freud would have something to say about it but he’s not here.  I need to aim for something I can achieve.  I thought 260km in 2 weeks was easily achievable when compared to the ‘usual’ 800km in 4-5 weeks!  But what I didn’t consider is that the majority of people who walk the Camino seem to only travel from places in Europe, Great Britain or the United States.  Jet lag for a healthy person traveling from Australia takes over a week to recover from – why did I think I could do it in less?  And a lot of the people doing the Camino are healthy and struggle to do 20-25km per day every day, why on earth did I think I could do it that way too?

Whatever the reason behind my unrealistic decisions, I have to take care of myself.  This time it will only be me and it will actually matter if my plans fail.  I wont have anyone there to back me up, or tell me I can do it – it’ll be alright.  So I have to love and listen to my body – it’s the only way I’ll get through.  Maybe I feel like I haven’t achieved much in my life because I attempt things or want things that are simply too difficult for me.  But why should I have to change what I want?  It’s not fair.  If only.  I wish… (in a resigned voice, not a whinging one!)

So after my 2 harsh reality checks I have bumped back down to earth and am doing this realistically.  Less distance also means more time to enjoy myself and explore the sights including cathedrals with spectacular stained glass windows, like the one below.  It will be more expensive in the end because I won’t be eligible to stay in the albergue’s (pilgrim hostels) so will have to pay more per night and will have to get bus and train fares between destinations.  I might have a few day walks on the way but I will definitely walk at least the last 100km, I have to to get my certificate.  Then, hopefully (if I have time and can keep going) the 3-4 days past Santiago de Compostela to Finesterre – the end of the world and the place I most want to see.

One day I will go back and do more, I would love to do the whole thing all at once but for now, realistically, this is enough.  Like I said last time, it’s not giving up, I’ll still come home with my certificate, it will still be further than I have attempted to walk before, it will still be a great achievement and still be something I will remember for the rest of my life.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Claire
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 13:22:48

    Thanks Timmyd – My footsies are being well taken care of – special orthotics and awesome hiking socks to go with my new boots that are getting worn in 🙂

    Reply

  2. timmmyd
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 10:22:36

    I think you’ll surprise yourself by how far you can walk. Make sure you get the foot wear right!

    Reply

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