I had spent the previous evening tending to my feet. Thankfully the albergue had a private room of 4 with single beds. A German pilgrim was with me in the room. She wants to look at my foot. Most people do, I realise. They feel grossed out when they do, yet they are curious. I guess it’s the fascination with the macabre, or things of that genre. She gives me advice. “You know, we Germans don’t believe in breaking the skin.”
I feel I should be grateful for the sagely advice. “Well, I don’t believe in breaking the skin either”, I reply. “I have tried everything and the spanish method works for me.” I am irritated. I’ve been tending to blisters since the very first day. Second, actually. For someone to give me sagely advice close to 40 days on is highly irritating. What I don’t need is advice or looked at like a freak show. What I do need is a practical solution. What could be causing the blister, how do I stop it, how should I dress it, and so forth. Preferably from someone who’s hiked and had foot injuries. Someone who knows … They are the ones who are most practical about what needs to happen next. It is at this point that I miss Sylvia. She was no medical expert. And I had the biggest, horrible at blister on my big toe at the time. But she was hands on and helped me with draining and dressing it.
I am unsettled. Because, practically speaking, if I was on my own, I’d have taken a rest day or shortened the distance – to take the stress off the foot. If I’d gone in to see a doctor, they’d have said the same. I rest with my feet elevated, and sleep with my foot off the bed. My big toe is still throbbing.
The next morning I dress it with Second Skin. It’s yet another something new to do for blisters.
We start quite early again. By the time we are out the door it is 5.30 am. It is cold outside. The only things moving was another pilgrim walking with a ukele on his back and a garbage truck. Actually, this pilgrim is quite well dressed. He wears cords and a short waisted jacket. Very professorial on the camino.
We walk for nearly 2 hours before finding breakfast at a home based panaderia. This morning, I was after tostada, and cafe con leche. Toast made from fresh bread is divine.
The walk up the mountain is scenic. We are lucky. It is not an especially hot day. I feel at peace with the scenery. It is green, it is lush. The Spanish living in these parts have a simple life. No doubt they have their problems, like whether their daughter ought to marry the boy who lives across the river. I wonder to myself, could I live here? Invariably, the answer is no. I haven’t explored why. If I, as do many others on the camino, seek peace, why not in remote mountains? Too deep. My brain is befuddled with very simple things. It is too hard to process.
The last 5 km to O’Cebreiro is the steepest. I take it slow. Each 2.5 km section takes me over an hour to climb. I pick my way through the rocks, carefully placing my left foot to reduce the risk of a further toe jam. The place is filled with horse manure and as a consequence, flies. I wish they wouldn’t use horses for pilgrims to climb to O’Cebreiro. Or at least use a horse poo bag to collect. The sun beats down. It is hot and it isn’t even the hottest day in summer yet. The ground is covered with the dried up splatter of manure curling on the edges, like pancake.
Sue begins to walk faster and faster. She speeds on ahead and then waits for us in the next town. This is better, I feel, so that everyone can walk at their own pace. On the last leg, I suggest that if she is going to walk fast, to try to get accommodation for us in O’Cebreiro. Sue definitely does not want to stay in the municipal albergue.
Khahn and I climb slowly on, enjoying the views at every turn. Both of us stop to take many photos, but it doesn’t adequately capture the breadth of what I see. It reminds me of the Pyrenees. So grand that you have to see it with your own eye. Photos never do it justice.
Our day ends relatively early. We have lunch and then the afternoon watching The Way. The mood changes and both Sue and Khahn now want to get to Santiago, where before they were happy to stop at Sarria. For me, I want to go home, and I’d like for all of us to finish the walk together. So I agree to take a taxi to Sarria the next day – even though I know I will miss Samos. (Samos was a town on my very short list of towns to stop at.) We weren’t going to walk the steep section down anyway, in order to look after our joints and feet. I am not sure my feet can deal with another toe jam, having suffered the one from the descent from El Acebo.
I had a phone call home to son. Hubs is working late again and son is home alone. He’s okay but he misses me. And I miss him and I feel helpless that he is home alone. I decide in that moment that life can be re-done. And that I can come back and do this section of it when my feet has healed. I do not want more rest days. I want to head home. That’s the beauty of living so close to the route (relatively, of course). I decide it would be nice to do the camino together with him – at some point.
All these decisions – without a lot of forward planning. How? I don’t yet know. I’m jus following an idea – going with the flow. It’s not a question of money or time. (But then it often isn’t.) It is simply a question of when.