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Practical Considerations - Camino Primitivo


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Getting There – I took a flight into Madrid with a connecting flight to OVD Asturias Airport. Oviedo is about a 45-55 minute bus ride from the airport. When leaving the terminal building – the ALSA bus stop lanes are to the right. The fare is 6,20 €.

I flew in from the USA. It took me at least five days to get into a normal sleep pattern - even though I was very tired every day. I mention this because fatigue can play a role in how well you may feel during the walking hours. This is less of an issue for those in the European time zones – but consider the days you might need to adjust.

In planning, I was overly ambitious in my idea of the distances I could handle each day. I would give at least 12-14 days for walking the Primitivo – However, one can certainly go at a MUCH slower pace. The ideal would be to not have an absolute time restriction and to let the road and the body, dictate the pace. For some this is not a practical reality. Allow extra days for the unexpected. The people, culture, food and every sensory thing – are so wonderful - it’s great to have some time to enjoy and be open to the spontaneous. After walking, finding lodging, hand-washing and eating – there isn’t too much time or energy left to the day if a strict schedule is being adhered to. Many times I wished that I had allowed myself more time for this journey. Oviedo, Lugo and Santiago de Compostela are all wonderful cities – and worthwhile places to explore. Consider spending the day in each, if possible.

I had a rain poncho and a back pack cover. I only needed to use these one day, but I was glad to have them. I discussed in a previous post that I did not wear the right shoes for this Camino. I thought walking shoes would help me avoid blisters – but I didn’t consider how wet my feet would get in this terrain. My friends on the journey taught me a good way to dry out wet shoes overnight... First take out the sole inserts to let them air out (don’t forget to put them back in) - then roll up old newspaper and stuff that inside the shoes. Change the paper before going to bed – and it does help to dry them out. Also it’s good to have small brush to clean the shoes at the end of the day.

There are certain physical factors that women have to deal with that men don’t – and that is just a fact of life. Aside from that – I embarked on this journey by myself and I did feel safe, guided and protected. I also met friends the first day outside of Oviedo – and so I was never really “alone” from that time on. The Camino provided what I really needed and I always felt at ease.

The food in Spain is just magnificent – the café con leche – superb everywhere! Common lunch items are the tortilla español (Spanish omelet with potatoes) – and the bocadillo (sandwich on a baguette) — Don’t miss the Caldo Gallego (Galician soup) when you have the opportunity to try it. I prefer vegetarian food – and although pork and meat and smoking meat are very popular in the area – I didn’t have difficulty finding something on the menu. At the local market, I bought what I needed to carry with me for the next day - water, oranges (the oranges are very nice here) unsalted nuts, maybe a cereal bar. Though there are plenty of bars along the way – it’s still good to have something with you in case you need energy or you’re on a long isolated stretch. As the sun broke through the clouds overlooking the valley near Hospital de Montouto - I sat down and had an orange by myself... it was an almost Mystical experience!

For the first few days, I tried to keep up with my newly met friends. As the week went by, and my knee started acting up, I slowed down my pace and spent some good parts of the day walking alone. It is wonderful to have company and it is also wonderful to sometimes be quiet. The Camino offers both opportunities. I would meet up with them at the next bar or at the end of day. The pace of life in Spain is a little slower and very pleasing on many levels. There’s an atmosphere of warmth and good humor -- and a feeling for the celebration of life. Some peregrinos I met had the chance to participate in town festivals and said it was a great time.

English is not commonly spoken as a second language (except perhaps by a hotel concierge or a student). But I found that the people of Asturias and Galicia were gracious in their willingness to communicate with my broken Spanish. I had the Lonely Planet phrasebook which helped me. I did not have any Spanish when I arrived and ordered my first café at the airport – but by the end – I learned how to get by fairly well. I was greeted by many kindnesses in all my exchanges.

Buen Camino!
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