Today has been an extraordinarily long day. As I glance at the clock, it’s edging close to 7pm, marking the end of our exhausting yet rewarding journey. It’s incredible to think that we started our walking today at 7:45am.

Last night was a lively one spent meandering down Calle de Laurel, a crazy street in Logroño renowned for its selection of bars offering unique finger foods served with every drink. This street has earned a rather peculiar nickname — the “Street of the Elephant’s Trunk.” Legend has it that if you were to enjoy a drink and tapas at each bar, you’d end up swaying like a merry elephant. Unsurprisingly, after such a fun evening together, our morning set off a tad later than usual.

Leaving Logroño after a hearty breakfast, we directed our steps toward the town of Navarrete. To keep the element of surprise alive, I kept my lips sealed about the town’s notable church — one of my favorites along the entirety of the Camino. On our journey there, we shared in engaging conversations and I was able to get in some long stretches of prayer and reflection.  It was an ideal Camino experience.

However, as the pleasant morning gave over to the intensity of the afternoon sun, the lively dialogues eventually subsided. I found myself gradually losing concentration, struggling to engage in the deeper thoughts that I often explore. Can you guess what captured my mind instead? A rising need to pee.

My super fun souvenir wine skin probably didn’t help my problem. Did you know this thing can hold a whole bottle of wine!

For nearly two hours, the harsh sun sapped my energy, making the simple task of finding a secluded spot off the path to answer nature call seem to require too much energy. This was indeed the longest day of our Camino journey, and I found myself stumbling toward the finish line. I think my struggle mirrors many of life’s situations where we endure discomfort to reach our goals.

But, it also brought a revelation. It dawned on me that when our basic needs are neglected, higher pursuits like prayer, meditation, or even a meaningful conversation can feel damn near impossible. Sometimes, it is wiser to take a brief pause, attend to our basic needs, and resume our journey with a refreshed spirit and focus. This way we can focus on the truly important instead of where might be a good place to pee.