Today we reached Caldas de Reis (“hot waters of kings”), which refers to the hot springs located here that have been enjoyed since pre-Roman times. The Romans located a town here on the Via Romana XIX, the old Roman road and route on which I have walked for most of the last twenty days. The walking has been pleasant with mostly sunny weather and occasional climbs to keep us in shape. (But, I think it safe to say that I’m getting pretty good at putting one foot in front of the other.) As I have mentioned before, this area is famous for its granite quarries, first used by the Romans, and it’s interesting to see granite used for everything as it is more available than wood. Fence posts are made of granite and trails, houses and farm fences are all of granite.
The day’s walking mostly follows a similar pattern. We are up at 7 and, after our morning libations, start packing. After seven weeks, my pack layout has been carefully determined, with the things that might be needed that day close to the top. For a long time, the rain gear was in a side pocket or already in place but lately has been stowed close to the bottom of the pack. By shortly after 8, we are on the trail without breakfast. Dave and I usually had breakfast before leaving but Raymond and I prefer to walk for a couple of hours before stopping in a cafe for breakfast, which usually involves a Spanish tortilla (omelet with potatoes and onions in a pastry shell) or a croissant. We then usually walk for several hours until we reach our destination and sit down to figure out where we will stay for the night. Raymond sometimes uses his phone to contact the albergue or hostel or sometimes we just walk to it. This time of year there is usually no problem getting a room with two beds, sometimes in a larger dormitory with unused beds. We are usually in our room around 4 and, after a hot shower and change out of sweaty clothes, we find a supermarket and buy food to eat in our room. We are in bed by 9:00 and read for a while before lights out. There are always slight variations in the routine, but most days we walk from 6 to 8 hours.
I will be in Santiago the day after tomorrow and, after a couple of days in Madrid will fly home on the 24th and 25th. I am more and more thinking about home as my focus shifts from the present to the future. For a time, it was easy to remain in the present but it’s time to begin my re-entry into the real world. I do this with joy and anticipation but also with a sadness in leaving the freedom of the Camino way of life.