Yesterday was toughest; perhaps the toughest. The walk out of Pamplona, the biggest city on the Camino, was quiet since it was early Sunday morning. I left with three others who were staying at the same alburgue and other pilgrims were walking at well.
Soon we could see the ridge of windmills and it was a little daunting to think we would be right up there with them soon!
Partway up the mountain there was a town where we stopped for some coffee and snacks. I needed to take some action with my feet because my big toes were hurting with every step. But what options did I have? Those TEVA sandals I bought in Pamplona! I have read how some people do the entire Camino in sandals and always was very skeptical about how that would work with the varied terrain, but I had no choice.
I kept the gel caps on my big toes (think of them as condoms for the toes) and slipped my feet, socks and all, into the sandals. Obviously you get no pints for style on the Camino.
Ahhhhh, my feet instantly felt better. Now to see how they work walking.
The sandals worked really well as I made my way up the mountain. I was shocked!
There was an interesting display of rocks as I neared the top.
And then, there I was at the sculpture of the pilgrims walking agains the wind. It was commissioned by the electric company that put up the 40 windmills on the spine of this mountain range.
I rested for quite a while enjoying the view and contemplating the descent which I was not looking forward to in the sandals, but there was no way those shoes were going back on my feet. So with a heavier pack (because I was now carrying my heavy duty shoes) and less protection on my feet, down I went, very slowly picking every step I made and relying heavily on my poles.
It took me a long time to get down and many people (including those biking the Camino!) passed me, but I didn’t care. Falling on my way down was not how I wanted my Camino to end.
Halfway down my toes started hurting again and the only thing I could think of doing was to remove the gel caps. I think that the downward motion was making them tighter and tighter on the toes. So at the first place I could sit, I took a little break and freed my toes. They once again felt pretty good, but were even less protected.
At that time, as I was having a snack and some water I contemplated the rest of my day. I could stop for the night in the next town or continue for the remaining 8 kilometers of the Brierly stage (Brierly is the author of the guidebook I am using and when you talk about a Brierly stage, it refers to his recommended stage).
I thought about my nephews and how, in their football careers they have pushed themselves to the point of physical exhaustion and then gave even more that they didn’t know they had.
I have done that with work, but never with physical activity. I decided that I would let them inspire me to push on to Puenta la Reina. It is a good thing because the alburgues I passed were “completo” (full) and I would have had to trudge in anyway, but no doubt with a bad attitude.
It was getting late and there were hardly any pilgrims walking nearby. I ha dot be really careful keeping focused on the arrows and making sure I didn’t miss one. I was in contact with Ray and he was motivating me saying, at one point, that I just have a walk to Gib and Sue’s (Mountain Valley Farm on Common Road) left, but there is no “dip” to tackle. I am so happy I had those types of references from my training.
I passed a small olive grove and vineyard.
And some kind of wild (mutant zucchini Ray say) ????
I walked past a church built in the 1500’s.
Both of the women I was sharing a room with in Puenta la Reina had long since arrived and were texting me to see how I was doing and to motivate me. It was so sweet. Very touching.
Finally, just before 5pm, I walked into the alburgue and checked in.
My sandals earned their keep yesterday and already look well worn even though they are just a day old.
I had walked from 8 am to 5 pm. It was a long day and all I wanted to do was eat and sleep.
But, there was a festival in town and there would be a running of the bulls at 6. How could I miss it? So I showered, washed my filthy clothes and took the “5 minute” walk into town to meet the gang, my Camino family.
They kept sending me picture of where they were and we eventually met up.
This was definitely small town running of the bulls and Ayna and I left to get dinner back at the Alburgue because all we could see was how cruel this “running of the bulls” was to the animals.
Dinner was a buffet! All you could eat. I swore those off several years ago, but last night it was perfect. We all agreed it was one of the best meals we ever had! It is amazing how your perspective changes when you are really hungry!
I think yesterday was the toughest yet. Keeping up with the Brierly stages is feeling tough, but I pushed on and my body responded.
Desperation forced me to think differently about my footwear and the solution worked really well! I loved having to work with what I had and making it work.