from my previous two Camino de Santiago's. It might be due to my advanced age. Or maybe it's a result of my love of Imperial IPAs (9% Alcohol by Volume) murdering my helpless brain cells.
However, in reality I don't believe either excuse is true.
I think the majority of the Camino is a monotonous landscape of tawny browns and hazy greens. This time of the year, I'm seeing a lot of field stubble. Every now and then, (rarely) we get to walk past tree farms. There are times we negotiate our way through cities complete with noise, traffic, trash, used car dealerships, transients and junkyards. Not the stuff of pretty picture postcards. I'll say it bluntly. Many of the kilometers of the Camino are not awe inspiring or memorable.
Now I'm beginning the famous/infamous Meseta section. In my guidebook, “Walking
the Camino de Santiago” by Davies and Cole, 30 pages of the 166-page book are
dedicated to this segment. An astonishing 143 miles of the 500 miles of the Camino
takes place in this Kansas look-alike territory. The Meseta has a nasty reputation with
descriptors such as endless flatness, desolate, strange, monotonous, barren, and the
stretch most likely to be bypassed by pilgrims. My favorite thought on the Meseta is
of walking through hell and escaping toward heaven when this incredible horizontal
portion finally surrenders. I can honestly say I'm not grinning at the thought of taking
It on once again.
That being said, believe it or not, I'll take it slower this time. The distances between real towns are vast. I'm not up for the big 20-plus mile days like on my previous two transits. I'll spread my Euros around in tiny Bergs kept from going ghost by the infusion of Pilgrim cash. (I'm now in Hornillos Del Camino-population 56.) I'll take it easy.
So what do I remember from Camino I and II?
I get deja vu's and memory snippets from the towns. Wasn't that the bar we had a huge multi-national Happy Hour crowd in? Didn't I meet so and so in this Plaza? Wasn't this the coffee shop where I made the elderly owner howl with my goofy pantomimes? Wasn't this the street corner where an attractive Spanish woman gave me a shy grin?
This is what I remember from my Camino's. It's about the people. It's about smiling at strangers. It's about being extra nice because it's the right thing to do. The Camino is about feel-good human interactions. That's why I'm walking my third Camino. It's not about the scenery.
From the start of the Meseta,
(Don't expect beautiful photos!)