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Day 4: Coto to Castaneda. 14.01 miles.

I hit the wall this day, mentally and physically. Kent, too. And it wasn’t like it was our longest day, either. But this day, in addition to our standard “tired,” we added sore and crabby. To add insult to injury, our inn was off the trail by another kilometer, and when we finally had it in our sights, we saw that it was at the top of a hill, and we were standing at the bottom, with at least the length of a football field left to climb. The inn looked cool from afar. It had been built as a castle in the 1600s, and owned by the same family until the current owner bought it fifty years ago (which may have been the last time it was renovated). It was interesting—old sewing machines lined the stone hallways and there were incredible views from the top of the hill on which it was built. But dark halls jutting off the main floors looked dark and foreboding, as if Dracula or Ted Cruz (same thing) were waiting around the corner. Dinner was filling, but mainly boiled and a bit bland. The internet only worked when it felt like it. Did I mention that the hotel didn’t have a bar? What it did have was one vending machine featuring soda, a lone can of beer and water. Ay, Dios mío, how would we survive?

What a great life lesson offered up to us at the halfway point of our trip.

Can we call an Uber?

At the beginning of the walk, we were giddy, full of excitement and glee. We were traveling again after two years of not, experiencing the beauty of Spain again, and about to fulfill a traveling dream. It was easy to take challenges (like unfriendly dogs) in stride: Buen Camino! But then reality snuck in. Life is like that. And too often for me, in the busyness and rapid pace of real life, I find it easier to react than reflect, to bitch and moan instead of taking a breath and cutting people some slack.

Here, I have none of those excuses. We’re walking for at least six hours a day, taking leisurely lunches and long coffee breaks whenever we feel like it. Standing at the top of yet another hill, exploring the stillness of yet another local cemetery, I have no distractions and nothing but time to wonder about those lives lived and the people resting there now. There are no excuses and nothing to stop me from reflecting on how I want to live the rest of my own life. So, I take a deep breath, and when I do, the aches and pains of the day begin to disappear and the inn doesn’t seem as creepy. I remember that I’ll have a bed, clean sheets and a pillow on which to rest my head. Many people don’t have even close to that much.

Bouncing back after a rough day.

I know I know all of this. But what I need is to remember it when I return to real life: Remember to slow down and reflect before I react. Take a breath so I can remind myself of what’s important and what’s not. Think about and be grateful for what I have that others don’t before I complain.

It’s the best souvenir I can bring back with me.  


  1. Great photo, great smiles, great reflection! 💗

  2. Hi Jill,
    I feel your pain as I recall exactly the same exhausting situation climbing up that hill to the castle. As I recall there was plenty of Albarino vino available, no? Best of all, thanks for sharing your life lesson. So enjoying your updates.

    • Usually we had no problem getting vino (Albarino, Ribeira, even Vinho Verde as we got closer to Portugal). But this night, the waiter, who appeared to be 14 years-old, tops, was stingy with the first pour. And then, we had to ask for a second. It wasn’t as if it was expensive wine ($3E) but for some reason, it just wasn’t flowing that night. Regardless, I had a good night writing while Kent went to bed early (again) so it all worked out. As it usually does if I can be patient!

  3. Frame this pic when you get home. You guys look great. This trip sounds like a life changer. Love that you are sharing it !!
    You are in my thoughts every day as I walk the dog and listen for the birds. 💕

    • Awww, thanks Mary Louise. You are in my thoughts whenever I see a beautiful painting or landscape here, which means you are in my thoughts often as well!

  4. Great photo even with your uphill climb 🚶🏽‍♀️
    And this~ “Dracula or Ted Cruz (same thing)”

    • Glad you enjoyed it Cheryl. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Ahhhh……..we remember that castle, and the walk up to it, well! If I could post a picture, I would send the one of our very sore feet resting in their pool. Living one foot in front of the other and one moment to the next day after day after day after day certainly offers perspective in a ‘way’ nothing else does. Buen Camino!

    • Hah!! The pool was locked when we were there! More first-world “misery,” right? It was fine, really. It’s just that our experience the night before at Pazo de Bois was so magical, it was difficult not to compare. I don’t think that place was an option for you, as it’s only been open for five years. We’ll have to share some stories about it when we see you. You’ll want to go back–we do!

  6. Can’t wait to hear all about it, all of it! 🍷😘

  7. Ahh Jill! What an experience and reflection. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • And thank you for reading and commenting, Jane! I really appreciate it.

  8. Ah yes, to reflect and remember when it’s called for, when one is not clear headed, that is the mission. More dog training comparisons, lessons from Dragon: when the world gets loud and crazy, get quiet and calm. Only then can you truly hear what you need to hear. And then go fetch a ball! Keep on truckin’ you two!!!

    • The Wisdom of Dogs/Dragon: That’s the book you should write!

  9. Thanks for sharing the beautiful and the difficult!

    • That’s life, right? Beautiful and difficult. Thanks Lisa. (Loved the FB photos of you and Maeve on the Camino, btw.)

  10. The scenery is beautiful and your smiles say it all. This reminds me of the saying from Steel Magnolias: That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. You and Kent are both incredibly strong!

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey. The things you have written about have hit home. Impatience can put a different spin on most things. As I age, I find myself taking a breath and reassessing what I have. Gratefulness is a blessing!

    • I’m finally learning, as I age, that when you have gratefulness as a foundation, life gets a whole lot easier. It’s a lesson I wish I could’ve learned earlier.

  12. Enjoy the journey and every minute

    • I appreciate you reading and commenting Chris. Thanks!

  13. Ahhh…patience and perspective…if you get staying power on those after the trip, sign me up!
    It’s enjoyable to hear the zen perspective you’re bringing to your journey.

    • I think this experience would bring out the Zen in most people. As you’ve said, the trick is staying Zen!

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