This photo was taken by a very nice woman from South Africa who was walking behind us. Now that is the Camino spirit!
We are approximately 295 KM away from Santiago. That feels so close now.
So, you may be wondering how we are doing as a couple on the Camino. We have met so many people traveling alone or with others and all have had different results and challenges. I plan to write a blog about that soon but for now I’ll focus on us.
All I can say is that I am continuously appreciative and amazed at Colin’s patience and thoughtfulness. He cheerfully walks beside me at my very slow pace (well most times he is ahead, but only slightly). If he were on this trip alone he would easily be three days ahead of where we are now. He would still have very little pain and no blisters. I on the other hand now have three blisters and I generally halt and/or melt down each day at some point – usually with 5 KM left to go for the day. He reminds me sometimes that he has a lot of experience wearing his boots, heavy pack and dragging a fire hose for 12-16 hours a day. He consider this trip training for fire season. He also reminds me that as a wild land fire/paramedic that when he helps firefighters with blisters he patches them up, tells them how to do it themselves, tells them not to come back unless it is more severe than a blister and doesn’t have to listen to them give him a blow by blow description of how their blister are doing for 16-20 hours a day. But, he does laugh about it and somehow he still loves me.
Before we took our first steps to plan this trip we discussed our intentions about what we wanted from it. We agreed that this was something we would do together through the entire walk. This was a great trip for us both since it is active (but not death defying) and immerses us into a new culture (which would hold Colin’s interest).
For Colin this is a “tame” type of adventure. When he has any opportunity he participates in challenging or adrenaline filled activities. He loves kayaking, climbing and fighting wildfires. I love some adventures like camping and traveling but I am not keen on anything that involves falling, intense speed, scary cliffs or near death experiences. In fact I nearly panicked when Colin and our girls boldly sat at the edge of a cliff at horseshoe bend in Arizona. It’s a scary thing to see as a mother, even though technically it isn’t a death defying sport.
Anyway, we have met people on the path who wonder why I may be “holding Colin back” as we walk. It is not in his nature to have this slow pace. The truth is that he is holding back and I Iove that about him. I truly wish I could walk faster for him but so far I am just proud to be getting so far each day at the pace I can manage. But even though I know he would like me to pick up my walking pace he has also assured me the the priority is having this time together. We are so often apart. Even more often now that he is a away most of the summer as a firefighter/paramedic. So before this trip we made a decision to have this time together and it has been fabulous. This romantic, rustic adventure is in many ways a commemoration of our 30th year of marriage (December is our anniversary). When we tell people that some of them laugh and say, “You should have done this before you got married to see if you survived”. We may giggle and answer “ yes, we did travel a lot before we got married and we travel well together”.
I would suggest that it is a great idea to travel with your partner before getting married. Of course you may choose a different type of traveling and may prefer private rooms to non-romantic bunk bed dormitories but as long as you both agree, discuss and enjoy that’s what counts.
Anyway, you can read on about our last few days below if you like.
April 19 through 21st. Walking the Meseta – the plateau. On our Camino this is synonymous for a long stretch of flat terrain with days of endless walking. Many people who are walking this Camino decide to bypass this terrain by bus or train, particularly if they are stretched for time. This flat walk is a couple of days worth of time before León and again after.
We are currently almost through it as we left León today.
April 19th – Thursday
It was a gorgeous day and the first 9 miles were fantastic. Just the right amount of cloud cover to make the weather beautiful for walking. We stopped to have a wonderful picnic and enjoyed it immensely. I’ve included a couple of
pictures. The neat one is of Colin’s picnic spot and the messy one is mine; sort of how I keep my desk (working on that).
Today’s walk was just 21 KM from Bercianos del real Camino to Reliegos but I am spent. The last 4 miles or so were hard – as they tend to be for me no
matter how long or short the day. It started to get hot then and I started noticing my blisters more. I have two big blisters and hope they go away before I walk tomorrow. It’s kind of giving me a headache now that I stopped walking. The shoes compress them a bit and taking them off is almost worse today. Oh well. I know you want to hear that I drained them, put vaseline on and hope they are gone quickly. I am sure you are all thankful that I have not include pictures of my feet.
We stopped at the first albergue we passed; again due to me not wanting to go any further steps. It isn’t exceptional but we are meeting interesting people. A guy from Poland is on his second Camino and just started in Burgos this time. He is very religious (honestly the first person we met who is) and he is a little upset when we don’t know enough about what is included in the Mass. Another person in our room is a Danish guy who is married and living in the Dominican Republic. He speaks at least three languages as do many of the Europeans we meet
The song happy together just came on at our albergue. That was the song that Colin and I considered “our song”. It is kind of hippyish and was old even when we chose it in 1988 but we felt we couldn’t use it as our couple’s dance song for our wedding (which was planned in 3 weeks- but that’s another good story). So we don’t even remember what we eventually chose. It is usually odd to hear our song anywhere. They seem to play a lot of old English language music for the pilgrims. A shame really since Latin and Spanish music is so nice/fun.
For your ear worm pleasure, here it is.
León. 4/20. It is packed here in this city and very noisy. It is very beautiful and I like it a lot more than I expected to. However I am really not interested in the city noise. In Spain people eat dinner at 8pm and seem to party all night on a Friday. It is also not so easy to get a place to stay on the weekends and we got lucky with a nice hostel but it is still €20 each. We managed to eat at a place that serves the menu del dia all day. When you order that you basically get a few choices and they seem to be the same every where. You also get a bottle of wine and dessert so we are always full. I have started to leave some food over and it seems any man sitting at our table is happy to eat anything I have left. It is kind of funny.
Back to León.
We saw several pilgrims we know in the square today including Haley and Marsha- the mother and daughter from our very first day (and again a couple of days ago). I’ll let you know more about them when I write about “how people are traveling” in the future blog.
I have two blisters and hope they are better tomorrow. I bought some sandals today to give my feet a rest from boots.
Did I mention how noisy it is in León. A beautiful city and lovely cathedral and squares but the noise all night was quite annoying. We could hear loud people partying until 6AM and they must have been directly on the other side of the hostel’s walls. I didn’t get much sleep but I woke up ready to walk. My blisters are a lot better and we hope to walk 24 KM today.
Today I felt great, even after very little sleep in León. I was optimistic that my blisters would be fine and I was open to walking 4 KM further than our original plan. I started out great. In fact the first six miles went well. Then we stopped for a snack and it seems it takes me about 10 minutes to get moving again. I also seem to grind to a halt for a few minutes almost every day around 15-20 KM. It reminds me of how a puppy stops walking at a certain point and makes it clear they won’t budge. Sadly Colin won’t carry me so I always have to get walking again.
When we landed for the night it was at a nice, homey albergue. At this spot we saw the four Australian kids (have I mentioned them before?) and the Danish guy. We had a nice dinner and the hosts served some shots of a local liquor as well as wine. It made up for the fact that the dormitory room had no lights in the bathroom and smelled moldy.
After dinner I was tired and retired a little early. As I left the dining room I said goodnight. When I said this to the Danish guy (honestly I can’t pronounce his name) I said “see you in the bed next to mine”. Colin laughed very heartily and said, “I bet you don’t hear that so often from a woman whose husband is standing right next to you”.
We have had some inconsistent WiFi connections and very tiring days but I will be catching up with these blogs shortly. Thanks for all of the support and encouragement. I am so happy and grateful that you are reading this. I truly feel you are sharing this with me.