First of all, many thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. Reading your words made me feel so much better about everything and made me feel closer to each and every one of you. You´re the best.
And now for some updates…
145 Miles to Santiago
I had a wonderful day! The walk was absolutely gorgeous as we are entering the mountains and many of the trees are changing colors. I feel happy to be back in the high country and satisfied with my strength on the inclines. Even with the tendinitis, I can tell I´ve come a long way since St. Jean Pied de Port. I think tomorrow I may try to walk without my braces. We´ll see how it goes.
I met another American today – from Colorado no less! We walked together most of the day. He is a videographer for a Catholic website and is interviewing people about their faith. I think it is interesting that I met him the day after my little revelation. We had a lot of interesting conversations. I enjoyed it.
Tonight I am staying in another really neat albuergue in kind of a strange town. It seems that half the village at least is falling apart and abandoned and yet there are children playing in the street and laundry on the line. It doesn´t seem real.
When I came to my bed after a shower this afternoon I found a large Italian man snoring loudly in the bunk underneath me. I turned to the guy in the next bed and crinkled my nose, not realizing the two were travelling together. ´It´s okay,¨ he told me sarcastically, `he only snores a bit.´At this point the fat man woke up, asked what we were talking about, laughed loudly, then promptly rolled over and starting snoring again almost immediately. Later at dinner the same man asked for the salad, poured dressing directly into the bowl, and ate out of it as if the whole thing was for him (which it was by that point, as nobody wanted to share any longer). The rest of us had to beg for our greens from the other table! Anyways, most peregrinos aren´t so disgustingly rude, and I wasn´t particularly looking forward to sleeping above him tonight. So when my friend from Colorado suggested I move to the other dormitory, it didn´t take much convincing.
The 2nd dorm is in the attic, and noone (myself included) wanted to climb the additional flight of stairs. So as it turns out, there are only 4 people in here! Each in a corner and all friends. So I´m looking forward to a blissful night´s sleep. Wonderful day. Wonderful night. Now I´m off for some wonderful dreams!
134 miles to Santiago
My feet hate me. That´s all I can think about now. Today was rough. It took me 8 hours to walk 19.7 kms. That´s bad.
This morning was amazing. Today I passed the highest point on the camino and everything about it was gorgeous. The climb was fairly easy as we did most of it yesterday and only had 2 kms to go from the albuergue. I´ll always remember those moments at the top as one of the highest highs of my camino (literally – ha!)
And then we started going down.
My feet haven´t been this sore since day one and the tendinitis isn´t happy either. Hopefully the damage is just temporary. We´ll see. The albuergue tonight is very nice but lacks the character the albuergue´s of the last few nights have had. For some reason or other, the hospitelero has decided to start filling the rooms from the top down tonight and even though I didn´t arrive until 4, there are so few people here that I was sent to the first open room which is on the 3rd floor. To make things even more fun the showers are in the basement – 4 flights of stairs away. Don´t worry single reader, I have already braved the ascent and climb for the sake of my 9 roommates. At least there are no bunkbeds to climb tonight. Now if only I can convince the hospitelero to bring me dinner in bed…
Another wonderful evening! Maybe it´s the wine but I´m feeling very good about my Spanish skills tonight. Truthfully most people on the camino speak English so I´ve had very little trouble communicating. But very few Spaniards – with the exception of the very young generations – do. So I´ve gotten very proficient in buying food at the market and finding a bathroom and a bed but haven´t had too much practice in conversation. Tonight I sat with two Spanish guys at dinner and I think they found my scattered Spanish very amusing. They taught me a popular Spanish saying for the camino – `Por los peregrinos, con pan y vino, andan el camino´ – which basically translates to ´the pilgrims walk the camino on bread and wine.´But it´s much more poetic in Spanish and it´s totally true. Anyway they told me at the end of the night that my Spanish was very good and whether or not they were trying to flatter me I am happy with my small improvement.
130 miles to Santiago
Well, it seems like fate is really out to get me on this trip. As if tendinitis (flared back to full force thanks to yesterday´s downhill torture) isn´t enough, I woke up this morning to find 40+ (stopped counting at 40) bites on my neck, face, and arms that I didn´t have when I went to sleep last night. It was either bedbugs or a kamikaze mosquito, but I don´t know enough about bedbugs to know for sure. The bites are concentrated to the areas of my body that weren´t inside my sleeping bag, but I have heard that bedbug bites are pimple=like and that they tend to bite in lines. These bites seem to be more at random and are big pink welts that look (and itch) an awful lot like mosquito bites (and I´m basically an expert on those). Anyways, after about 30 seconds of shock from seeing myself in the mirror and another minute or so of ´why me´s???´I decided its all part of th adventure and took it as a sign that maybe I should take a rest day. It has been 5 days of walking after all and that does seem to be my magic number.
It all worked out pretty well timing=wise actually, as last night´s albuergue was about 7 kms from Ponferrada, the last major city on the route between here and Sarria, where I´ll meet mom. There is a big Templar castle here literally across the street from my hostel and the last proper bus station before Sarria. Ideally I´ll take the bust somewhere tomorrow that will leave me just the right distance that I can walk to Sarria, because I´m not feeling the need for another 4 day rest, but it seems like some of these mountain towns are pretty remote so I don´t know if I´ll get that lucky. The other option is to walk as far as I can from here and then to take a taxi to make up the distance, but that may get expensive and depending on where I am it may be hard to find a cab.
So this morning I walked the 7 kms from Molinaseca to Ponferrada with another American guy from Texas I met last night at the albuergue and had churros y chocolate with him and some other peregrinos once we got into town. Now I´m checked into a hostel and I think I´ll rest here until everything re=opens from siesta this afternoon. Then I´ll check out this castle, see if I can´t find some internet and an horario for the buses tomorrow, and hopefully find a farmacia with some anti=itch cream. Then hopefully there will be time for some general exploration.
Anyways, time now for an early, extra=long siesta (lots of snoring last night = little sleep for Mariana).
Once again everything seems to be happening for a reason! Yes, I look like I have a horrible case of the chicken pox, but because of it I got to really explore this beautiful city. I had a wonderful evening in Ponferrada. Now I am sufficiently lathered in antihistamines, my feet feel a million times better, I am full and happy and all tucked in for a guaranteed snore=free night! Life is good!
121 Miles to Santiago
Totally wimped out today and only walked 18 kms. I planned on 23 but my feet were bothering me and there was a lot of concrete and asphalt on the walk today, which is most likely why, so when the choice came to stay in Pieros or continue the 6 kms to Villafranca I turned to the albuergue. I looked at taking the bus in Ponferrada yesterday but the only places it stopped were Villafranca (which would still put me a day behind) and Sarria itself (this way I would be 3 days ahead). So as all my options included either paying extra for a taxi or extra for 2 nights in Sarria, I decided to just walk until I´m out of time and take a cab from wherever I end up. Which means I´m in no hurry. Which means I can get away with walking only 18 kms. Anyway I´m glad it turned out this way because as it is this is probably one of the most beautiful albuergues I´ve been too (and since I was the first one here I got the best bed!).
I´m sure now my bites are from bedbugs, not mosquitos. I think they only looked so mosquito=y yesterday because they were so recent. Now they´ve taken on that pimply look I´ve heard described and most of them are in weirdly straight lines. Maybe it´s because I´m so used to mosquito bites or maybe it’s because next to the pain from that early blister and the tendinitis this is nothing, but I haven´t had too much trouble over the bites other than some slight irritation and of course looking totally deformed and hideous. The hospitelero looked horrified to see me. No doubt he was worried I´d infest his beautiful albuergue. He throughly questioned me on my cleaning techniques and for a while there I thought maybe he wasn´t going to let me stay. But I guess I passed the test because here I am.
I can´t believe I´ll meet mom the day after tomorrow! Time really flies. It´s amazing how normal all this feels. Like my life has always been on the camino. In a week, one way or the other, I´ll be in Santiago. How crazy is that?