419 Miles to Santiago

Lots to catch up on! Here we go…

9-27-11

Pamplona continued…

Tonight was amazing! Palmplona is a magical city and I only wish I could have stayed longer. I went to the cathedral this afternoon and had my first spiritual experience of the Camino. Upon entering I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of the place I almost cried. I walked through the cloisters and chapels and said a prayer for my family and felt as pure and happy as I had for a while.

I realized today, after walking with a very happy German named Gentz this afternoon – so many people come to the camino to clear their heads. And really, mine has been clear for over a year now. How lucky am I to live a life so free of so much? This realization though, is new – and I am grateful for it.

This evening I went for dinner with new friends and wondered the streets as late into the night as my exhaustion would allow (so around 9:30, haha). It was perfect.

9-28-11

Obanos

430 miles to Santiago

Today was hot! hot! HOT! The slog out of Pamplona was miserable. I was in so much pain from a blister I went the wrong way twice! Luckily, both times I was corrected by bystanders fairly quickly. Just as I was thinking the pain was unbearable and I wouldn´t be able to go any further I felt a tear. I thought it was the compeed tearing away from my foot so I stopped to fix it only to find the blister (which had become quite large) had broken. As soon as I took the compeed off pus came gushing out. It was about this time that a lovely trio from Canada on their first day of the walk came by. I think I terrified them a bit with my exploded blister. But they helped me get cleaned up and on my way. Later one of my british bunkmates from last night in Pamplona joked that I was becoming a bit of a ´foot hussy´ – handing my feet over to just about anyone! It´s totally true. You do what you have to do!

Anyway, after the blister broke the pain went from a 10 to a 5 and I was able to walk normally again. The terrain has changed a bit from the mountains of the Pyrenees to rolling farmland. It is beautiful. But man is it hot without the cover of trees! The last couple of kilometers into Obanos was excruciating.  I have all kinds of funny tanlines :b. I think I will have ice cream for dinner tonight! I can´t imagine doing this in July or August when the temperature is doubled and the crowds tripled.

I´m finding myself with a nice little, very diverse, family of peregrinos here. Everyone this morning said they were going to go to the next town over (Puenta la Reina) tonight so I was a little sad when the heat and my poor blistered feet forced me to stop 2.3 kilometers early. But in the last few minutes since I´ve been writing I´ve noticed several familiar faces come in. I guess I wasn´t the only one taken by the heat!

Overall, though, I am feeling stronger. The only thing still hurting are my feet (though they hurt a lot). My bag doesn´t give me any trouble anymore though, and my legs feel great. Now if only my feet would heal so I can start walking a bit faster!

I had a wonderful picnic dinner of fresh foods from the market -fresh baked bread and cheese and chorizo and olives and more – in the central square next to the church this evening with a couple from South Africa I met on the trail today and the happy German Gentz. Really there are such wonderful people here. They inspire me to be kind and happy. I think the two are closely linked.

 

9-29-11

Villatuerta

421 Miles to Santiago

Well, I´ve got to be honest, today was a bit of a low point for me. The morning was fine but the afternoon was very hot with no cover next to the highway for most of the way! My morale plummeted when I took a break under the only tree for miles and looked at my guidebook to find that the next week or so has huge roadside sections ahead. I was hot and tired and wanted to cry. How was I supposed to find peace in a place like this?

I got to Villatuerta, a small town with no charm, in the heat of the day. The town is ugly and modern – a pretty church its one redeeming quality – and to make things worse all the streets seemed to be under construction. Dust flew in the air as I dodged one tractor after another, and after circling the town 3 times I could not for the life of me find the albuergue! But with 6 kilometers to the next town, I was determined to find a bed and to find it now. Finally, on a small side street closed due to construction, I found it – La Casa Magica, the albuergue of my dreams.

Now I write to you from a hammock hanging outside in a beautifully run-down medieval courtyard. My clothes are drying in the sun nearby after a wash in a real-live washing machine! My feet and ankles have been iced by a wonderful hopitalera free of charge and my bags were carried of the stairs by the hospitalero. When I entered the common room and sat down a friendly cat curled up right in my lap. And no sooner did I sit down did my South African friends come through the door. As it was, my bunkmates from Pamplona were upstairs, and I´m a sharing a room with the Canadians who leant me the tissues to clean my blistered feet yesterday. Almost everyone I´ve loved on the camino so far is in this albuergue, and tonight we will all cook together and eat a big communal meal by candlelight in the courtyard.

Life has a funny way of kicking you in the butt and then letting you know exactly why, huh?

The only thing getting me down now is that I´ve just realized I left my soap in Obanos. 😦

…UPDATE: I take it back, Villatuerta is kind of a cute town. It´s very small and the camino takes you around the outside. But if it weren´t under construction I think maybe it would be totally charming. I´m feeling a lot better now that I´ve eaten. We had an amazing dinner of spaghetti and sauce made of tomatoes and peppers grown here in the town. We drank local wine and had such a magical evening. It is my British friends´from Pamplona´s last night. I am  so sorry to see them go as they were becoming some of my favorite people on the camino.

Just now getting ready for bed Franz (part of the South African couple) noticed people walking with backpacks and instruments outside. Now there seems to be practicing going on for some kind of village band. Tonight we will all fall asleep to an off-key brass section. But it´s wonderful!

 

9-30-11

Estella

419 Miles to Santiago

I have been having a lot of pain in my ankles and while all of my other aches and pains have gotten markedly better (if not disappeared all together) my ankles have gotten worse to the point where this morning I could not move them without a lot of pain. I decided to walk anyway, hoping that they´d warm up as I went – but moving at a snails pace it didn´t take long to realize the problem was much worse than I´d hoped. Tears started falling as I considered ending my camino early, and the pain got worse and worse with each step bringing me closer to that dreaded possibility. On the outskirts of Estella, only 3.7 kilometers from my starting point, I ran into my Canadian friends and – as I had done before – gave them my feet. My ankles were swollen and slightly bruised. They already have to work extra hard to compensate for my archless feet. I think trying to work around the (finally healing!) blisters was just too much. I think it´s a tendon issue. Hopefully they´re just strained and its not tendinitis. The Canadians were nice enough to wrap my ankles with athletic tape and walk (more like hobble) with me into town. Over breakfast it became clear to me I shouldn´t walk farther, so after exploring the town a bit I said goodbye to the Canadians and checked into a hostel.

After resting a bit and feeding myself last night´s wonderful leftovers, I´m feeling much better. I´m hoping 1 day´s rest is all I need to be on my way, but I´m debating whether or not to see a doctor. It won´t be easy to find one as no one speaks english but mostly because my problem is that I can´t walk! We´ll see. It´s also difficult to force myself to actually rest. Although my room is very nice (and I have my own bathroom!) from what I´ve seen the town of Estella is very beautiful and I´d love to explore more. But what´s the point of taking a rest day if I don´t allow my poor ankles to actually rest?

…Still trying to decided whether or not to go to the doctor… I´m a little scared for what he´d say. Just tried to walk the two feet to the bathroom and without my boots supporting me it was very, very difficult…

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