Last night I added a new item to my repertoire …
… of aches and pains. Intense leg cramps, that kept me awake for most of the night and slow on my feet this morning.
I headed out around 8:00 … very, very slowly.
The Way leaves the town in a bit, and after the last few houses continues through the forest. In the forest a novel signpost … sello ahead. And so it is, after another 50m there is a guy in the middle of the forest handing out sellos with a wax imprint … one of my personal favorites on the Camino.
Around that time I came across a Japanese family, walking with two kids (about 3 and 6 years of age). They all pass me by … no great feat at present … as I stumble along to the next donativo stand. That’s where my Italian room-mates catch up, as we pause for some photos.
I chat up for a while with Ruth and Joan, Canadian ladies. They started from St. Jean few days later than me, but now they plan to slow down because they made reservations in Santiago and are ahead of schedule. They reminded the that magnesium powder works well with muscle cramps (last couple of days I skipped my regular dose). I correct that oversight at the next bar and it seems to be working … albeit slowly.
Next ahead … a small church consecrated to St. James (or Santiago) Next to the donation box there are small cards with a prayer to the saint in several languages. By the time I left the church there was a small line of pilgrims who wished to enter … I meet Jae again.
Another town, another break as I catch up with Jae (she was faster … naturally) and meet new pair of Canadians … Terry and Lynn, who started from Sarria.
The path winds along … a bit to the left … a bit to the right … mostly downhill. At the next “bar break” I met a Russian couple, Yevgeny and Tatiana. Widely traveled, they are doing the Camino in stages … been to Croatia as well.
Slightly ahead a Brazilian couple asked me to take their picture … also been to Croatia.
The Way goes uphill a bit … then straight … that after an eternity (or something that felt close to it) it reached a town stretching along the road. Time for a brunch.
Now its decision time … do I park myself at the local albergue and time my arrival to Santiago for Friday, or push on and time my arrival to Santiago for tomorrow afternoon. On one hand I feel sleepy and quite beat … on another… its only 12 km to the next village (that was me being sarcastic with myself).
I a fit of what must have been a moment derangement I decided to continue on. Heading out of the town I came across the Italian gent known for nocturnal music … it must have been a sign I made the right call.
The Way continues through the city where a couple of albergue signposts tempt me to change my mind … and continues through the villages ahead. In one of them the Russians catch up, and Yevgeny … seeing me limp along … teases me with “when did you plan arrival to Santiago, tomorrow ?” … “That’s right” I manage to croak out trying to sound determined.
The forest continues on and on … as kilometres are veeery slooowly rolling along … more precisely I’m the one doing the rolling not the km’s.
As the path leaves the forest it leads to a tiny village with a few houses. The first one has a donativo stand and a few pilgrims at the table in the courtyard, so I join them. As soon as she saw me, Heidi, the lady of the house, ordered me to take my boots of and gave me the best foot massage ever. To paraphrase that Mastercard ad … meeting a bona fide Camino angel … priceless.
Side note: a good cream for relaxing leg muscles is one major thing I neglected to pack. A big mistake, the ones I got along the way weren’t nearly as good as the one that Heidi used – Rowo gel.
It provided a fantastical feeling of cool freshness to my feet that lasted for few hours, as the sun burned brightly outside.
Continuing ahead I came across an bar … not a guest in sight. I was about to take a seat at a nice spot in a shade when I noticed a dog who beat me to it. He welcomed me with an ominous growl. OK buddy … we are going to get one thing straight … THAT … is yours (Tango and Cash reference).
Next bar at “Tia Dolores” is more hospitable so I take my break there. Andrey and Olga drop by they plan to park at the next albergue. Which reminds me … next village has two albergue’s, small one at that. I decide to call ahead … “don’t worry” … says the hospitalero … OK I won’t.
Over the last few days I saw plastic trash bins everywhere, but rarely did I spot water fountains. Someone used the trash bins to write verses from the “Imagine” by John Lennon.
I made it to Salceda around 18h. Slovenians (Natasa and Zrinka) is already there, together with interesting pilgrim group from Germany. Four adults with four kids ranging from 6 months to 5 years of age. They have a special, one-wheel baby cart for hikers … the things one can see on the Camino.
For dinner I am joined by Mathias from Hannover … half-asleep I manage to eat something and shuffle back to my bed.
Needless to say I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
That was day no. 34.