Hey friends! I’m bummed to write this, but I’m sure most of you already guessed it anyways:
There will be no 2022 Camino to celebrate my 50th birthday in May. I’m OK with this. More OK than I thought I would be.
See, it was already feeling hairy considering I would have to fly out of Seattle no later than March 29 to start from SJPdP when the Napoleon Route opens, and the COVID restrictions in place still were making the flight planning a major headache. On top of that, it seems that the Camino support system — the important “ecosystem” of bars, pensiones, casa rurals, etc — has taken a major hit and most villages are practically shut down. Albergues have to operate at reduced capacity still, too, decreasing the number of beds available on the trail. Then there is talk of an expected surge of pilgrims this spring due to the pandemic waning and the holy year being extended. So a skeletal support system, a diminished number of sleeping facilities, and an increase in demand — yeah, no thanks!
Then there are the other overarching concerns that are more difficult to articulate but still cause feelings of unease: increased exposure to COVID as a pilgrim due to the nature of the experience, political unrest in the US, Europe on the edge of war with the Russians attacking Ukraine, generally dis-ease. You know, usual stuff.
I compromised with myself and still bought a ticket for Spain, but it’s going to look very different. I am going to rent a car so I have my own transportation, will stay in regular hotels, will just be a typical tourist but in a way that I can mitigate my own exposure risks to the virus and can be self-reliant for moving about (especially if there’s an emergency). Besides, I need to get measured for another pair of Flamenco shoes from Menkes in Madrid…
After I wake up from my food coma, I plan to indulge the former medievalist buried deep inside — she has been through enough and forced to hide herself for far too long. The aging medievalist is going straight to Chinchon:
Then Toledo to do it right (since I was only able to visit for a single, hot, triple-digit night in July 2019 — it was truly too hot to do anything):
Then on to Caceres, a town I’ve been dreaming of visiting all through the pandemic:
Of course I might not be able to keep Al calm once he starts recognizing all of the filming locations of Medieval Porn, (aka Game of Thrones).
After two nights in Caceres, we’re shooting straight back to Madrid to “do it right” (and again, I need another pair of shoes):
Thanks to Brexit, flying through London is a pain in the behind now from Seattle and our favorite airline (Norwegian) stopped flying from the States during the pandemic, so we’re flying Air France this time… which means I have to stop in on this place on my way home. How could I not?:
Yes, changing planes in Paris absolutely requires four nights; CDG is just that kind of airport. How dare you question my travel planning skills.
This is not a trip that needs to be blogged, so CaminoJenAgain will go into hibernation until I am able to walk another Camino. I am disappointed to postpone plans for this spring — nothing felt more triumphant over the aging process than reaching Santiago on my 50th birthday! — but now I’m hoping to do it for my 51st in May 2023.
In the meantime, have a wonderful 2022: stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane.
Buen Camino, amigos!