I think when pilgrims begin their journey they are all pretty much naive as to what’s to come. You can do your homework, read blogs, books and websites, take in as much as you can in an attempt to ready yourself for such a journey. But the reality, my friends… the reality is so vastly different than the best of any words of any pilgrim who has walked the way.
A Walking Blister
The Camino de Santiago, is kicking my butt – seven ways to Santiago. As I write we are sitting in the lobby of a lovely hotel in the tiny little village of Villafranca. I am a walking blister. This from someone who has no memory of the last time she sported a blister and has now lost count of how many adorn both feet, most of which are on the bottom of said feet. I should buy stock in Compeed.
We Walk, I Blister
On Day 8 the evil alien blister from hell, on my right heel, burst and I’m pretty sure it spawned the outcrop of blisters that now plague me. We walk, I blister.
On Day 12 we watched the new day dawn from our beds and asked ourselves, should we do it all again? We had to think about it, hesitate, ponder a bit and then we asked ourselves how we would feel if we threw in the towel versus how we would feel if we walked into Santiago.
We got out of bed and did it all again. Only by the end of the day I was so crippled with pain we had to call for a ride to our B&B. It almost did me in. Almost.
Obsession or Insanity?
The Camino becomes an obsession. We laughed about this today, but it’s true. We started this damn thing and now we’re bound and determined to finish it. Isn’t that the definition of obsession, or is it insanity?! Why do we do this? Yet, I see so many people sporting as much tape on their feet as I do, so I know we’re not alone in the insanity.
We are quickly approaching the flat lands and there are many pilgrims who skip this section. When a pilgrim walks the last 100 km from Sarria to Santiago, they will receive a compostela, something we are not overly concerned with. We have our pilgrim passports and we’ve been collecting stamps as we walk.
We too are giving thought to skipping the flat lands, the mesesta, but not because it’s flat, hot and maybe less interesting (depending on your perspective), but because I need to give my feet a chance to heel before I reach the point of not being able to walk at all. We are giving thought to catching a bus to Leon, resting for a few days, and then resume walking from Leon, 181 miles to Santiago. To date, we have walked 140 miles and if we went home tomorrow I’d be so proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Lest you think walking the Camino de Santiago is all about pain – it’s not. There have been moments of awe-inspiring joy when we see yet another stunning view before us. We walk through the next sleepy historic village set atop a steep hill and the locals greet us and wish us Buen Camino! As do the people we meet from all over the world.
I think you might be surprised by the number of pilgrims who travel from Australia to walk. There is a sense of comradery among pilgrims. We came over the mountain, on Day 1, with a sweet group of about ten and we lost track of them because we spent a second night in Estella and they carried forward. Today, we saw a member of the group and it was nice to reconnect.
Is the Camino a challenge? Hell yes! But it takes hold of you and won’t let go. And so we continue. Left, right, left, right, one foot in front of another. Onward.