Every step forward is a step closer

Day 4 – Palas de Rei – Melide

Writing in my journal in the morning is a new thing for me but as I am in my own room for the first time I’m not disturbing anyone by doing so and am not about to be kicked out early.
I’m not sure how far I will get today but I am aiming for at least Melide.  The crappy map/book says the way is mostly downhill but we know how it lies so I can expect some hills thrown in along the way – the first hill of the day is always the hardest and as most of the villages and towns are at the bottom of hills I am pretty sure I can expect on right away.  I originally had 2 guide books but I left the heavier one in Paris.  Unfortunately the heavier one is generally acknowledged by those in the know to be one of the better books on the market.  I wonder if the author would consider making an iPhone app of his guide because that would be completely awesome.  I haven’t mentioned it before but I love my iPhone – it is the perfect travel tool.  Before I left home I downloaded a Spanish phrasebook, a weather app for Galicia, Spanish guidebooks and similar things for both Paris and London including colour maps to the Parisian underground and London tube in addition to all the music I had on it already and the audiobooks I added at the last minute.  The best thing about all this is; no matter how much I put on it it stays the same weight and size!

I think I prefer staying at the smaller places, you meet more people.  That being said the bigger ones are more likely to have internet, pharmacies and supermarkets and maybe even a bath.  Yes, I am still obsessed with the idea of having a bath.  So I am aiming for 10-15km today,  If it’s 10km I will be staying at a smaller place, if it’s 15 I will make it to Melide which is the next large town.  Either way I will pass my half-way mark today.

I slept pretty well last night, finally, in my own room but had reflux all night which is odd – could be all the red wine I’ve been having lately.  So now my oesophagus is inflamed and I can hardly eat or drink anything – no breakfast for me I think.  I can’t believe how much they expect us to eat along here!  The Pilgrim menu consists of 2 huge meals plus dessert and I am very aware of offending people by not finishing the plates off but it is an impossible task for me!  Last night I ordered croquettes.  As I was expecting just them I stopped my tradition of not eating bread as well but when I had finished I was also given grilled chicken and chips and offered dessert – I could hardly send back the chicken after it had been cooked for me and felt ill afterwards from all the food.

I found some sock liners yesterday so will try them but I have a feeling that my feet are beyond help.  I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter how far I get each day, it is my Camino, I will get there eventually.  I heard a wonderful saying yesterday: ‘Santiago will always be there’.  That really sums up my Camino; no matter how long it takes I will get to Santiago.  But I would really like some internet access tonight…

Early on I met a Belgian lady and ended up walking most of the day with her.  We chatted about all sorts of things and passed some beautiful scenery.  I just can’t believe how spectacular it is here.  I had heard that the walk from Sarria to Santiago is the least-nice part of the Camino de Frances and if this is true I would like to see the rest to compare!  After a while my friend and I parted ways – she had feet problems too and had to take the hills slowly.  I had to tackle them as if my life depended on it so put my head down and strode off.  I seem to only have one pace – full steam ahead!  Even if my full steam differs in speed.  I give it all or nothing, I am not the kind of hiker who can do things by halves and conserve my energy for later.  When I have it I have it and I will use it and keep going for as long as I have to.  The concept of conserving energy is quite strange to me, if you have it, why not use it?  I guess that comes from so many years of not having much of it but surely the idea is to get where you’re going?  Besides, I am slow enough as it is without consciously slowing down.  My walking slows during the course of the day to an old-lady shuffle as my feet get more and more sore.

I planned to stop for a break along the way but everything was closed.  My body was having trouble as I still had not eaten so I raided my supplies of mini choc chip cookies and orange flavoured tang – I couldn’t justify the tub of powerade.  After a short break I hobbled on to Melide and my half-way mark.  I got (understandably) very happy when I saw that 55km sign and it buoyed me up and carried me along dancing to the Jackson’s ‘blame it on the boogie’ – yes I was acting out my traditional dance moves to ‘sunshine’, ‘moonlight’, ‘good times’ and ‘boogie’ with hiking poles in my hands.  It is quite fortunate nobody was trying to pass me at the time as they probably would have received a pole in the face by way of a greeting instead of the more traditional ‘Buen Camino’
 Once you pass the 55km sign you think you’re nearly in Melide and then you hit the industrial zone which seems to go on for miles.  Then you come across a charming little town beginning with an F that has a beautiful old stone bridge with picturesque views and charming stone houses – it really is one of the most stunning of the tiny villages you go through in the last section of the Camino.

I struggled into Melide at lunch time in slightly better shape than the day before and wandered around looking for a place to stay.  I found my Belgian friend from the morning and we were headed in the direction of the Albergue when we came across a Canadian guy who was staying in a hotel.  Naturally my first question was ‘do the rooms have baths?’ – Yes!!  My next question was ‘does it have internet access?’ – Yes!!  Perfect!  So I said Buen Camino to Belgium and headed to the hotel guided by Canada.

I think you can guess what I did first!  Well, sort of.  Actually I called my mother.  As we chatted I began de-sports taping and taking off my blister dressings.  The conversation went something like this ‘Yeah, passed the halfway mark today, I’m a bit sore but still going, oh, the dressing on my big blister smells funny, oh dear’ as I pulled it off and a large blob of pus and skin came with it…
Salt bath!  Insisted Doctor Mum, so I hobbled to the supermarket for a tub of salt and soaked my feet for a long time.  Then I had a very hot bath (listening to one of my audio books) which was complete bliss, soaked my blister some more in salty water, re-did my sports tape (with my own version of Rob Zombie’s ‘more human than human’ in my head; ‘more sports tape than human’) and then went on the internet.

I think it might be Albergues for me from now on though, 30 Euros per night will really add up (even if I do have a bath!).

Anyone reading this journal would be well within the realms of reason to think: This girl is completely insane!  Walking 115km with a sprained ankle, stress crack in her foot, dodgy knees, dodgy hips, infected blisters, blood pressure that randomly decides to take a holiday and an over-enthusisatic heart that tries to make up for blood pressure’s laziness – what was she thinking?  And to that I would reply, well, yes, that would be the simple explanation.  The more complex one of course would take years of psychotherapy to determine so for now I am perfectly happy being viewed as insane although I prefer myself to think of it as being stubborn, determined, maybe slightly ridiculous but above all a dislike of being dictated to about what my body and I can and can’t do.  Oh yeah, and maybe a little crazy 😉


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. winza83
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 12:50:45

    Great post Claire! You’ve inspired me heaps..
    hope you surgery went well,


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