May 9th, 2013
I wanted to walk with friends so we left at 5:40am together but what I should have done was stay in bed! It was cold, foggy, impossible to see the camino markers, and it started to rain soon after we left. I was getting grumpy after 9 days of not enough sleep and long walking days so I decided I would have a short day today, which meant walking 20 km!
Before starting the camino I thought the pain I would experience would be from blisters… I’m lucky I don’t have any blisters yet but I do have swollen ankles, toes and knees, as well as a lump on my collar bone from my 9kg (plus water) backpack rubbing on my shoulder each day. In fact the pain is only really coming from my shoulders unless my feet and legs start to cramp which is happening sporadically. It’s also difficult only getting 5 or so hours sleep because of the snoring and general noise people make going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or having to sleep on the floor with a thin mattress and no pillow.
When it started to rain I was at the lowest I’d been on the camino and questioning what I was doing. I made it to Tosantos in the rain at midday just as the albergue was opening up, they let me in, gave me the instructions about helping out with dinner and I retreated to the upstairs room, rolled out my sleeping bag on the floor and slept for 3 hours. When I woke up I felt alive again. I started to think about a fellow pilgrim I had met the day before who had been very unwell before the camino. She was walking each day but having her bag delivered to each town as she didn’t have the strength to carry it. She had faced a lot of hardship with her illness and now was facing a lot of hardship on the camino with the snobbery from pilgrims that comes along with having your backpack delivered. She told me she would have preferred to have been healthy and strong enough to carry her own bag, than recovering from illness…
San Francisco de Asis Albergue, Tosantos
It was another communal dinner at the albergue and after dinner they invited everyone to the chapel in the attic for a pilgrim’s prayer. As I’ve said before, I’m not religious, but when in Rome… I went along and was given a sheet of paper with the prayer in English and we took turns reading out a passage from the prayer in our own language – Spanish, English, Hungarian, Korean, German and Dutch. We were then given notes that previous pilgrims had written with their reasons for walking the camino, they asked us to read them aloud, then they would keep them for 20 days (expecting you to arrive in Santiago by this time) and then they would burn the notes. I couldn’t understand the Spanish note but the lady reading it was crying and the notes I could understand were heartbreaking stories of not being with loved ones at their death, assault etc. Again, I was in tears.
Every day I laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed and I cry more than I’ve ever cried. I’m not going crazy I promise, the camino seems to have this effect on everyone…
A typical breakfast on the camino
Emilio Esteves’s hand & footprint – they filmed the movie “The Way” in this area and at the albergue in Tosantos where I stayed.
San Francisco de Asis Albergue, Tosantos. This albergue features in the movie “The Way.”
Wonderful companions, Meike from Holland and Hans from South Africa
Dinner at San Francisco de Asis Albergue, Tosantos