Maybe it was let down from the excitement of reaching the 100km mark, perhaps a restless sleep because of the gurgling plumbing last night, but this morning I couldn’t get my legs working. Despite D2 saying “Just tell them you’re in charge mamá”, they took no notice. After a brisk downhill walk we crossed back over the river and were soon climbing a reasonably steep hill which had me puffing and thighs burning. Even on the flat track I couldn’t get into a good stride.
I mustn’t have looked great, because a couple of people asked me if I was ok as they passed me.
After a few kilometres I sat on a bench by the side of the road catching my breathe and feeling decidedly ragged. A woman wearing her coordinated “I’m walking the Camino outfit”, beautifully made up with immaculate hair and a backpack that would have barely held her make-up and hair dryer, came and sat next to me. She patted me on the knee and said “Never mind dear, it gets better after the first couple of days”
You know those times when you think of something to say afterwards? This wasn’t one of those times. “I know, but that was 5 weeks ago and I’ve walked 700kms since then.” She patted me on the knee again. “Well done dear, well done” in the tone of voice TV presenters use for grannies who’ve celebrated their 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane. I smiled tightly and she trotted off.
I set off again only to hear that sound from yesterday, the sound that makes all your fillings ache, the sound of walking sticks being dragged along cobble stones. I sat down on the side of the road and waited until the sound disappeared into the distance.
The devil on my shoulder chortled gleefully as I set off again. After I had finished seething about Ms “I’m going to win the Best Dressed on the Camino award at the Santiago Cathedral” I thought about what I could say to Mr “I can’t be bothered picking up my sticks” I couldn’t think of anything other than an obvious crude remark so my thoughts went to my next pet hate – people who carry their sticks longways across their shoulders and then don’t think to move across when they pass you, narrowly avoiding nasty skewering incidents.
But you have to love the Camino, just as I was heading down a stony steep path and really set to hate the world I heard a booming voice behind me “Hey Ossie, you’re still with us! Slow steps, use those poles”. It was an American guy who we’d kept pace with for a while and then lost touch with. I don’t think I ever spoke to him but the Camino community is small. He made me smile as he strode past giving me a wink.
A meeting and hug with Asian lady and I was feeling better. I sat in a crowded bar with Jim and David from Ireland, two young men who bought me coffee and chocolate biscuits, listened to how long I’d been walking and soothed my wounded ego with their genuine interest.
It was a warm afternoon walking through some beautiful flowers
An increasingly painful toe
slowed me down considerably and D2 walked into town to find accommodation, then walked back to find me. It was lovely to have her walk with me and I was very relieved to reach Palas de Rei. She had found a double room in the Albergue San Marcos, isn’t it wonderful! It doesn’t take us long to make the room our own!