I am now in Ponferrada, over 103km in ... and I'm feeling good ..
As per previous post I had decided the day before to stop walking early, and break till 1pm the next day, feeling like everything was getting the better of me and that my body needed a rest. After a really great afternoon and evening, catching up with fellow walkers sharing stories, having a soak and an early night, I was glad when I woke at 6am that I had agreed (with myself) that I was taking the morning off, as I lay on my back, I spent an hour breathing deeply and concentrating on every bit of me that felt sore, tiny blister sole right foot just under toes, shins, left calf, right ankle. As I started to focus on these, I started to think, that the pain was far less than it had been the previous few days. For the next hour, I had many conversations with myself, one part of me was saying 'of course it is hard, get out of bed and push through it', the other part of me saying 'well done have a little break'. I got up at 8am and hobbled down to breakfast, where a few other pilgrims, were also saying they were going to take a rest day. I headed back to my room for a long shower, and thoughts of another nap, planning to get up at midday.
Then something happened, and I decided I had to get myself together, and just go walk.
I did not get to the pharmacy the day before, so decided to head in before I took off, for gel insoles (my adidas trainers need reinforcement) and blister pack. The wonderful Pharamcist Catalina, patiently checked what I needed, and then what felt very gentle and asked at a deeper level, asked how was my Camino. I started to well up, and tried to explain my feelings over the last few days. She could not have been more kind, motivational, inspiring, she shared her own Camino journey (Sarria to Santiago), and shared what she had seen other pilgrims experience in her role. It was everything I had experienced and more, and validated that what I held felt (despite me feeling like a big sooky la la) was actually quite normal.
She said the first 3 days are actually the hardest, especially if you have travelled a long distance, because you need to get used to climate, change of hours, body adjusting to flight, 9 hours of exercise a day and all of this is compounded by no previous exercise. She shared the puffiness comes from the greater intake of fluids, but despite the exercise, the body is not sweating yet, as it is adjusting, this is just one of the thing that impacts, it means your feet can become two sizes bigger, your body breaks out because fluids are not escaping, feet tend to go first, then knees and shins, then hips (I am in reverse), she said if my hips went first, this would have been really painful, and was surprised I walked through it, and had done the kms I had. If you put your hands on my hips, you can feel the heat generating from them. She is my Camino angel and made me feel normal and proud, off I stepped, with a spring in my step.
I covered 29kms, through mountains, the worst terrain yet, and most remote I have been (pics below) given I planned for only 9kms, and given the terrain, what should have taken about 8 hours, took me 15 hours, but I am feeling elated. I had my little wifivox and supercharger, which meant I spent the non pilgrim catchup walk times being able to listen to music, which massively helped with the mental. I also found myself still thinking about a lot, but also having a sing along, and as a result almost skipped along (bit weird, for those passing me, probably more than me, when pilgrims approach from behind I no idea they are there, because I am belting out musical and disney show tunes).
The bulk of my walk today was shared with Otto from Finland, Maria and Gabriel from Argentina, and Michael from Australia (who we ditched). Besides Michael, the camaraderie that can happen in such a short period cannot be underestimated.
I know most would think this is ridiculous really, it has only been 4 days and 100km ...
Otto the power walker from Finland turns 70 next month, I would have put him at 55. His wife cannot walk due to knee surgeries, so he travels alone, he passed me with a Buen Camino, and then ultimately stopped me, because he could not tell where my accent was from. We spent the next couple of hours sharing countries we have worked, visited and lived in, before Otto ploughed ahead.
Myself, Maria and Gabriel, struggled on this leg of the walk, and spent many hours, taking time out, overtaking eacother, building eachother up, sharing poles, water, swapping shoes, airing socks, and having a sing a long, despite walking with her partner, there are just some things that others get and understand more.
211kms to go .... (I don't know yet, if the camaraderie is because of this camino, or if what any long walk could bring, where there are quite a few people enroute, I assume the latter).