Camino Primitivo (some of) the details…

Along the Camino Primitivo…There are Roman roads, narrow mountain passes, and (my favorite) tunnel-like paths so old they’re six feet below the neighboring pastures.

“The Camino Primitivo is a difficult, but beautiful Christian pilgrimage, extending 310 kilometers (192.6 miles) from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela, through the northwestern regions of Asturias and Galicia in Spain. It is one of the Ways of St. James pilgrimage routes, or the Camino de Santiago in Spanish.”–

At home I run primarily on trails.  I was delighted to find the Primitivo was full of trails and found much of the route familiar.  

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 The Sunday before, I finished the Vancouver Marathon in 5 hours 11 minutes.  Here I am dragging myself to the finish. I’m no ultra runner.   Traveling to Spain I was afraid

last bit of the marathon…dragging a bit

I was afraid I’d made a huge error by rolling the marathon and training into two weeks of trails in Spain.  Instead, I found my training was ideal. I hiked most with a full pack and ran four legs with this ultra pack.

Ultimate Direction Ultra Running Vest


Osprey 46 Travel Pack

I packed everything, including the tiny pack, in an Osprey 46 liter travel backpack.  I didn’t fill it but managed, as always, to overpack.  There’s an old rule for backpacking: maximum 10% of your body weight.  I was over that.  I packed for shipping my pack daily.  Carrying 20 pounds is excessive over several days.  My suggestion is to find a pack under 40 liters and leave some space.  You will overpack if you have space.  I used two different services to ship my pack:  The Camino de Santiago with CORREOS and Backpacks transport for pilgrims along Camino Primitivo.

I started May 11, skipped one section from O Castro to Fonsagrada via taxi due to lack of available beds.  My average distance was 16.75 miles.  My grand total was 184 miles when I reached Santiago May 22.

 A lesson from my last Camino: it’s ok to tap out and take care of yourself.

The Primitivo routine can get old but it lacks any daily stress.  It’s a simple routine: walk until you tire, rest and repeat.  The nights are spent in Albergues, hostels reserved for pilgrims like this one…

One of the nicer Albergues, located in Tineo/10 euros/night.

The price ranges from 5 to 12 euros per night. Albergues often provide a daily peregrino menu for 12 euros or less. The meals are monotonous and plain but will keep you walking.   A typical meal is stewed meat, deep fried potatoes and a mixed salad.  If you’re trying to cut carbs or go vegetarian, the food can be challenging.   I did about half of my meals in the Albergues.  Fortunately there are often grocery stores… and bars.IMG_0493.JPG  Don’t worry if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s always a delicious ‘cafe con leche’ or ‘cafe normal’. 

IMG_0419For the drip coffee fans, cafe americano is an option but you may get sneers from Italians.

I’m guessing there’s two camps out there at this point.  The first is inspired and scanning the internet for tickets to Spain. The second camp is saying why the hell did you walk so far?

Some people are just walking for fitness.  Some are on a true pilgrimage, on a religious path to find forgiveness.  Whatever reason people walk there is a common truth.   Most people are moving in the same direction.  The Primitivo goes northeast to west ending in Santiago de Compostela   The majority of peregrinos are traveling that same direction.  There is an energy wave produced as though thousands of ghosts are pushing and pulling people along the way.

My reason #1 is food.  I can eat and drink whatever I want and walk it off everyday.  My #2 reason is I learn something every time I do a Camino.  What great insight did the Primitivo give me? 

I practiced accepting help while maintaining boundaries.  One common feeling along the Way is obligation.  You find yourself having a chat in the morning then walking eight hours with a person who is slower or faster.  A day can become incrementally less pleasant only to repeat the next day.  Don’t do it! People want company.  That doesn’t mean you’re obligated.  My second realization was I’ve been living small.  I talk about it in this post.  Have a look.

Having completed two Caminos (three if you count my first attempt), I can assure you no one ends up mad.   We’re all too happy to be finished.  And most of us have learned something and become better people….

Unless you happen upon an asshole but that has very little to do with you.


A Spanish food glossary for you…

  • peregrino pear-i-green-yo = pilgrim
  • albergue al-bear-gay = hostels reserved for pilgrims
  • cafe con leche cafe-con-lay-chay = a delicious latte
  • cafe normal cafe-nor-mal = espresso
  • tortilla España tor-t-ya es-panya = potato and onion slow-cooked omelette
  • cerveza ser-vay-sa= beer
  • vino tinto/blanco vino teento/ vino blonk-o = red wine/white wine

Get Inspired

The Way/ IMDB

Camino Primitivo guide.  The Original Way to Santiago –  Stingy Nomads

Spanish/English Food Glossary 

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