From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here.
We slept in a little late (until 8:00) on day 2 in Burguete to begin the walk toward Zubiri. Finn had had a poor night of sleep and we did not feel like rushing to get out the door. It was a little cold, drizzling, and foggy when we started the day and I think we were both excited and trying to manage our expectations. As well as Finn usually does in the backpack, you just never know how that day is going to be. As we took off, we happened upon a group of pilgrims and began walking with them. There was a mix of Americans and South Koreans in the group and everyone immediately asked about Finn what our plans were for the Camino with him.
For the first couple of kilometers, things were good. We enjoyed meeting new people, they talked to us, Finn was entertained and got to wave at cows as we passed. But then things went downhill very very quickly. Y’all, it was tough. Finn was DONE being in the backpack and was making it very known. In my head, and in our training, we’d been prepared for this. We knew that he may pitch a fit for a couple of minutes, but it usually resolved quickly and everyone was fine. But I was not prepared for him pitching such a fit in front of a large group of people. I felt like we were completely ruining their Camino and just did not know what to do and pretty much everything was awful.
We gave Finn a couple of minutes, tried bouncing him up and down and all singing songs and playing our usual backpack games, but nothing was working. I was so embarrassed! I’m sure, that day, everyone was thinking, “ok…y’all are dumb. This is never going to work.”
Paul should be sainted for dealing with hollering in his ear and then carrying Finn on his shoulders for a while where Finn was generally happier…for a little while. We tried letting Finn walk a little while, but 1 year olds don’t generally walk with much purpose. At his rate, we’d be getting to Zubiri sometime next year and only if we were abundantly lucky. Actually, considering the amount of time he spent running the other way, we maybe would have made it to France, the opposite direction, pretty quickly.
At this point, people were passing us and I’m sure they too were thinking, “so these idiots are going to make their baby walk all the way to Santiago. Ummm…good luck?” I cried, Finn cried, I told Paul this whole thing was stupid and we should just go home and give up, I was dramatic (as ever) and so was Finn (we know where he gets it).
Finally, in what felt like hours we made it just a little ways down the road, a whopping 3.5km to be exact, to Espinal where we stopped for cortados for Paul and I and play time and a snack for Finn. There is a possibility my lack of caffeine contributed to my general bad attitude about Finn’s general bad attitude. Either way, the break helped. When we loaded the backpack up again, Finn was a little sleepy and it wasn’t long before he was napping. Thankfully, all the other pilgrims who stopped by the cafe were very very encouraging about us walking with Finn.
*Side Note* Paul often describes most of the Camino and a long hike with perfectly placed cafes and bars for periodic refreshment. Its true and its kind of awesome in that way.
While Finn slept, we decided we should keep on keepin’ on. If he was asleep, we were walking. And we made good time in the time that he slept. We covered 10km in that nap stretch and regained some of our confidence. We also prayed…a lot. St. Maud, patron saint of misbehaving children, we owe you!
He woke, we stopped for lunch in the forest along the trail, and he played while he waved and took pictures with all the pilgrims who passed by. I’m convinced that he will later meet someone and discover he is in their parents/grandparents/neighbors/friends’ Camino photos. #caminobaby
The afternoon when MUCH more smoothly. I was still a little on edge from the morning, but Finn napped again and a sweet pilgrim woman from Brazil ran up to him saying “Baby! Baby!” She spoke very little English, but she loved Finn and he loved her. It was so lovely to see the camaraderie of the Camino even on the the very first day. We finally made it to Zubiri around 2:30 or 3. It was only about an 18.9km day for us, but it was a hard first day. The descent into Zubiri was pretty steep but the views were amazing. Most of the day was through forests, along rivers, up and down hill, and through fields. We were told the first third of the Camino is for the eyes and this proved it.
When we got to Zubiri, we feared that we were going to have our first “no room at the inn” moment but then were greeted with great hospitality. Since Finn still wasn’t sleeping through the night, we didn’t want to disturb any other pilgrims so we needed a private room. We didn’t book ahead because we simply weren’t sure we were going to make it. We had told ourselves that if Finn just simply couldn’t make it and we could only go 4km a day, thats just what we would do. But we made it all the way to Zubiri! And really just about the same time many of the other pilgrims were getting to town. We stopped at the first alburgue that advertised private rooms, but theirs were full. We stopped at a second that looked like it had private beds, but they said they “didn’t have one for the baby.” I started to worry and I thought they just didn’t want a baby staying there. I was, thankfully, wrong. The gentleman running the alburgue called a friend of his who ran a pension (a guest house/kind of like a bed and breakfast. Usually it was a private room with a shared bathroom). She came out to meet us to walk us to her place. It was lovely and clean and and had a double bet with a futon and for a moment Paul and I had a minor heart attack that she was going to tell us it was 100 euro a night.
BUT, it was only 30 euro!! We had a nice shared bathroom and a big sink for washing clothes. After we washed up/rested/washed clothes and got them drying, we walked down to the playground with Finn. Every Spanish town had a nice public playground. We didn’t take advantage every day because there was often site-seeing to do, but Zubiri was small so we really let Finn play. Paul went off to find a grocery store so we get beers and an agua con gas (our daily treat) and snacks for the evening and next day.
That evening, Finn met a nice young guy from South Korea, Patrick, who helped him chase a cat around town. For the rest of the Camino, every time we saw Patrick, Finn called him “cat.” : )
We also went to the pilgrim mass. Every town along the Camino has daily mass in the evening, usually around 7 or 8, which usually included a special blessing for the pilgrims. Finn fussed so I spent some time outside with him where he met a couple of nice German men whom he entertained.
We also had our first pilgrim menu in Zubiri. For about 9 euro we got a 3 course meal with a bottle of wine to share. This was dinner almost every night. Sometimes there was a salad, but often it was a bread basket and spaghetti, a meat dish of some kind with french fries, and a dessert. It was more than enough food for a weary pilgrim and Finn got to share with me. There were lots of pilgrims eating and visiting together and we shared our table with a sweet older couple from Ireland. We gave up trying to control Finn (I imagine he’d had enough of that by the end of the day) so I let him move around the restaurant some and burn off some energy. The waitresses all stopped to visit with him and he made quick friends.
We went to bed that night praying for a well-behaved child the next day and for a good night’s rest. The day had ended better than it had started, but it was still hard. Obviously, our bodies were tired and adjusting to the weight of the packs, but we were also mentally weary from worrying about Finn and trying to keep him happy. I was nervous, but trying so hard to be hopeful, about the upcoming weeks.