The longest week

It’s hard to summarize the trip so far. The camino is so much larger than I anticipated. Every time we make a plan or feel like we’ve found a rhythm, it’s shattered unexpectedly. The first three days were tough physically but we found a decent place to sleep each night and plenty of food. But we felt the race each day. We felt like we had to wake up and start walking earlier and earlier to secure a place to stay. And it was getting to the point of being unmaintainable. Each day we would walk 15-18 miles with no rest in hopes of arriving in time to find a place to sleep and even with that pace we were having close calls. In a couple towns we found the last two beds, we couldn’t even find a room.

So we began to entertain the idea of letting go of the romantic notion of just finding places along the way in favor of making reservations for each leg of the journey. And it was also forced to a head that day upon arriving in Los Arcos when my achilles started to ache and later swelled up like a grapefruit. We also, for the last darn time, found the last two beds in the town after going from hotels to pensions, to albegue after albegue. We felt pretty defeated at that point. Where was this mystical journey we sought? Why did it feel there wasn’t enough resources? And why on earth were we pushing ourselves so hard physically?

We were forced to take about 4 days off to try and rehab my foot and look hard at all of those questions. Though I wasn’t a fan of my swollen ankle, I think it was time for a rest and to reassess what on earth we were here for because it certainly wasn’t to race pilgrims to the next town each day.

The next morning, my grapefruit ankle in tow, we slept in (the lack of sleep that night is a whole separate blog!) and headed to a cafe for a pastry for my disappointment. I felt so angry at my foot. I’ve never had achilles pain let alone swelling like this. I felt I had ruined the whole trip. Just 5 days in. But as we were sitting there a couple we had met the day before showed up with quite the story about their hotel having plumbing problems and they were shipped out to another hotel in another town and were unable to get back here to start walking until too late in the day. “It’s not our day to walk. Oh well!” She exclaimed. We shared a cab with them to Logrono since we had made reservations the night before and because Logrono would have more access to shoes or whatever I needed for my foot. We enjoyed this couples laid back approach. They were here to do as much of the camino as possible but had reservations in hotels and didn’t seem militantly tied to doing every kilometer of the thing.

It began to open our eyes to what was actually meant by the phrase “it’s your camino, no one else’s” and our camino just gained a bum ankle and a desire for a place to sleep preferably with my husband, not in a separate bunk and not with 50 other people.

In doing this, we realized it was important to us to finish this thing within the month and not keep dragging it out because of my ankle. So we skipped 4 legs of the journey to keep up with our time frame which gave us two glorious days in Burgos where we found some incredible restaurants.

Today it was back to walking. We left Burgos (reluctantly…) and began our walk through the Meseta, a desert portion of the camino. With lots of water and stretching breaks I felt SO INCREDIBLY BLESSED to walk today. It was sunny and relatively flat compared to the first 5 days. Our whole experience had been changed.

So we were walking along happily, discussing our newfound ability to accept things as they are, and…I got stung by a bee…. I should add this is just one more of many personal struggles for me. A couple days into the trip I caught a bad sore throat, then the ankle, now the bee sting inflaming my poor armpit. Is someone sending me a message?

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