Oh well --- one of those things that happens --
two days ago -- on that horrible stony (more stony than normal -- if that is possible ?? -- why does NO ONE write anywhere about the stones? Here everyone agrees that is the hardest thing about the camino ----- but on that day made worse because of the gale force winds off the snow capped mountains that bump you all over the show) I got shin splints in my right leg -- not at the top under the knee, but at the bottom end of the tibia where all the calf muscles --- yes!! I actually do have those! and we never knew, did we? -- come together and are attached to the bone -- well, those tendons have started tearing loose from the bone and inflammation set in and the pain -- well, I challenge any pilgrim to tell me there can be worse! ---
I think I mentioned yesterday? that I passed -- or should I say limped past a most amazing man -- Valero -- from Italy -- he started in St Jean Pied de Port FIVE days ago!! and is already here -- he walks between 40 and 50 kilometers a day -- incredible! and he walks in sandals! no socks -- just sandals. I commented on this and he said only the first three days were bad, but his blisters are OK now -- his heels look like something out of a horror picture, but as I have young and sensitive readers of this message, I will not go into details -- and he said to me "at least I have not had tendinitis -- that is far worse!" Perhaps he was just kind -- but then, having the problem, I think perhaps not.
Anyway, went to the doctor this morning --- wonderful medical service wherever you go -- for free if you are a pilgrim -- and she shook her head, prescirbed anti-inflammatories and pain killers and a special elastic thingy to go around my leg and said three to four days rest. Must be kidding. I will go dotty (I know -- no comments from the peanut gallery, please.....)
Thank goodness --- or St Iago -- or both -- I happen to have found a fantastic refuge last night where Juan is totally happy for me to stay as long as it takes. (most refuges will not let you stay unless the doctor confirms that if you continue you will die along the way in the next four hours and a cart will have to come fetch you and take you to the morgue and the hospilalero will have to fill out a thousand forms for the Spanish bureaucracy because he was the last to see you alive).
Yesterday, when I limped badly -- leaning very heavily on my two sticks, John and Jill (first day out for Jill -- as madam does not get up early, and on this trip you have to, so she has been riding comfortably on my back all this way, while John has been doing all the hard work of pushing and balancing and keeping company... --- thanks guys, the bestest gift those turned out to be!)) I tried at the first village to get a bit of rest and sympathy in a refuge and they would not let me in as they were renovating --- an occupational hazard in winter on the pilgrim's´s route -- and the next village had no refuge and the third, 12 kilometers further up the hill, had one --- a wonderfully weird hippy new age kind of place where the incense smelt suspicioully like kif and the warmth came from two a huge iron stoves in the corner, and they warmly welcomed me in and let me sleep for a couple of hours, then offered me a steaming bowl of lentils and wine and were quite upset when I said I felt better and could keep going for another few hours.
So here I am --- all the others have left --- Markus the Finnish boy, the two Spanish boys who admonished me to stay as long as possible as the one, David had tendinitis on the third day and they had to stop for five days before he could walk again --- and a young Japànese watch maker from Tokyo - Tashi - and this incredible guy Rene from the Czech republic -- who has walked the camino from Le Puy to Santiago along the northern route, then down -- in reverse to Seville, then across to Portugal and up the Portuguese camino and now the Franceses camino -- in reverse--- back to the Czech republic. He is 34 --- walks in just normal clothes and normal trainers -- albeit his fifth pair -- but fabulous guy. (He was in the bunk next to mine last night and hardly snores -- so extra brownie points for that!!) --- have I written about the snoring? Next time --- I am contemplating writing a symphony using the snores of pilgrims on the camino!!
Last night the hospilalero Juan -- a former chef -- made us all a feast --- chicken soup, white beans and tripe (Terence, you have not tasted tripe until you taste the tripe in this region!), pork chops, fried eggs kindly donated by a dozen chickens in the back garden,, big potatoes cooked in their skins and served with a vinegar and oil and herb dressing, chicken pieces in a wonderful sauce (not the same chickens) , fruit salad and of course wine --- the best la Rioja (Marc and Sacha --- you will HAVE to come and see where your favourtie wine comes from!)-- the area through which I have been walking these last four days and am now leaving. Fabulous!
Tonight Juan and I are going to work together to prepare the meal for the pilgrims that arrive today --- as long as he does not ask me to kill one of the cute little Flopsy´s or Mopsy´s -- or even the mentioned Henny Penny in the back garden for the pot -- I am hoping Thorsten and Akira and Kamil will pitch up today -- they were behind me because of Thorsten´s knee and Akira´s leg -- it would be great to see them again!
So -- I have just been asked will I go back to France?
Go back to France? -- just because this silly ageing body of mine cannot keep up with my young agile mind (lol)???
NO! I suppose it is difficult for anyone who has not done this pilgrimage to understand what it does to you --
but there is no way one stops -- I shall wait the one or two or even three days required to get my leg stand-on-able again and I shall continue on the way --- fortunately I have calculated stop and rest days in my plan --- and I am still on track even if I stop for three days here -- which I hope will not be the case. I have seen now that unless there is something seriously stopping you from walking, one does not stop just for fun or sightseeing --- just does not work that way. So the day's rest I had planned turned out to be a good thing for such emergencies such as this one. But as as soon as I can, I continue on the Road under the stars.
This is just the most amazing experience --- I know I say that every day -- but it continues to be the most wonderful thing I have done -- and I so wish you could all experience what I do every day as well --- even just one day of it is enough to change your life.
And before I go --- thank you thank you thank you all for the emails and text messages every day --- it is really great to wake up and find all these encouraging messages! Terrie --- yours are very special -- every morning first thing! you are amazing! Thank you my friend!
I don´t have my phone on ring so I don´t know when calls or messages come in -- when you walk the last thing you want is a ringing phone, and when you get to the refuge at night, ringing phones are enough to be thrown out on the street! But I have my phone with me all the way and do not always feel the vibration in my pocket -- but I get the messages and appreciate them so much. It is sometimes hard to remember there is a world out there somewhere -- other than the contrails of the planes on the clear days and the occasional times when the way goes close to big routes, but I carry my loved ones in my pocket with me all the way.
Buen Camino my friends -- hamba kahle