Day 30 – Ponferrada to Ponferrada

Posted from Ponferrada, Castile and León, Spain.

I am still in Ponferrada taking a rest day. A blister on my right foot that I got several days ago took a turn for the worse. After confirming with my pilgrim doctor (the amazing tele-doctor Dr. John Douglas) I took a day to care for my foot. It seems much better and I will monitor its progress carefully in the days to come.

Since I had no pictures or stories today I have posted something I wrote several weeks ago.

I have discovered as I walk the camino that there are many types of pilgrims. As pilgrims we are suppose to not judge one another but sometimes that is difficult. Below is my description of the various pilgrims, the names are mine and not common language along the way.

Real Pilgrims
Of course this is the group I fall into. We started in St. Jean, we hiked over the Pyrenees carrying our own stuff. We stay in albergues, eat pilgrim meals and talk about our feet a lot. We smell our clothes to determine what is clean and we don’t worry about walking around in our underwear.

Uber Pilgrims
These are a special group of real pilgrims. They fall into 2 categories. Some have started at their homes in Europe and walked much further. One pilgrim that falls into his category is s French woman that started in Le Puy France. She is pushing her 4 year old son in a heavy duty stroller. She has calves that look like coconuts. The other group are pilgrims that are headed back from Santiago (Julia calls these yoyo pilgrims). They walked there, now they are walking back. It is suppose to be very difficult to walk back, the way is difficult to find in reverse. It is hard to spot these pilgrims (I’ve only seen one) because lost pilgrims are often going the wrong way.

Bicycle Pilgrims
These pilgrims ride their bikes with their packs either on their backs or as saddles on the back. Going uphill they look tough, going downhill they look happy just coasting along. Some are very nice ring a bell to note their arrival and say Buen Camino, others expect you to get out of their way. I spent a night with 3 of them in Castrojerez. They were from Holland and very nice. They said they biked 80-120km per day. 4-7 days for me.

These are groups not really going to Santiago and so aren’t really pilgrims. They are just hitting some of the highlights, walking short sections. They were very prevalent early on but have all but disappeared. I guess this part of the camino isn’t exciting enough for them. I’m sure they’ll pick up again at the end.

Tourist Pilgrims
Like the previous group they are more like tourist but are actually going to Santiago, though mostly by bus. Walking up a steep hill last week I was in a group of pilgrims and was chatting about the difficult climb. As we reached the top one of the group said “oh, there is our bus to take us back to the hotel”. This group has also disappeared probably bused across the meseta to continue their camino.

Intermittent Pilgrims
These are actually a subset of real pilgrims. This group only walks for a couple of weeks at a time. They start walk for the time they have then go home. When they have more time they come back. I have appreciation for this group since I remember only having limited time to travel. This group is usually European since the travel back and forth is manageable.

Skipping Pilgrims
Not really a subset of real pilgrims this group takes buses and taxis to skip over the parts they don’t like. Also in this group are pilgrims that for one reason or another are taking buses/taxis from time to time. Maybe their hurt, tired, think they can’t make it. Some have really good reasons others I’m not so sure.

Light Weight Pilgrims
These are pilgrims that are not carrying their own packs. Each day the arrange for a service to take their pack on to the next place they will stay. Again sometimes there are very valid reasons for this but not always.

Of course there are many variations on all of these types.