Some days are great, and some are a little less than. I guess if you wake up to live another day, then they're all great (but some of us who are believers sometimes question even that...'cuz eternity with Him sounds a lot better than this day!).
Yesterday was one of those days. The good parts were the fact that I was with Billy and we were still walking with our New Zealand friend, Reawyn. And there was coffee in the morning - which makes every day worth living for at least a little while, right?!
It was one of those days from the very beginning. Albergue life being what it is, we were awakened by the cell phone alarms af several 'gotta be first, gotta beat the sun, gotta win the pilgrim race' pilgrims. Those folks generally wake up at 4:30am. After they wake up the entire room with their alarms and their packing procedures, others generally follow suit - what else are you going to do? For those of us who try to maintain some sort of sleeping composure, we can usually only make it to 6am before we give up and get up.
Pilgrims walk with an unmistakable limp and stiffness. At this point in The Camino, almost no one can stand up and take any steps without a moan. We do a lot of hobbling and shuffling until muscles get warmed up. If you are an unfortunate top bunk person, those first moments are crucial...will your feet and legs respond quickly enough to keep you upright?
We hit the road early and soon found out that today's walk would be way less than lovely. It followed the highway. In some places, we walked ON the highway. It was asphalt. It wasn't pretty.
Before we even made an hour of walking, I already had a hot spot on my foot. We stopped and did some quick repair and hopeful prevention of further damage. But by time we hit the first town, I had a full blown blister and we had to do more major work...The dreaded threading procedure so common to pilgrims. A sterilized threaded needle is sewn through the top of the blister and then the thread is cut, leaving two small pieces hanging out of both sides. These serve to wick the fluid from the blister while leaving the skin still covering it and protecting it from infection. This is all covered with a bandage after a few good squirts of antiseptic. It doesn't hurt at all. In fact, it relieves the pressure in the blister and helps tremendously. This procedure is a common sight along the Camino.
Off again for more unattractive highway or near highway experience. Thank goodness for Reawyn and her wit and quick jokes! She kept me laughing for most of the way. The path then wound it's way through an industrial area outside of a major city. Lovely. The more asphalt we walked on, the more my feet and knees hurt. Even my ever spunky happy friend was now losing it and we were both fast becoming Grumpy and Fussy Pilgrim.
I announced to the heavens that "I did not sign up for this part of the Camino. I signed up for Pretty Camino. I did not sign up for Yucky Industrial Asphalt Camino. And, PS...They didn't show this part in the movie."
Well, either the heavens heard me or the enemy did, because just at that moment I rolled my ankle and began the most epic slow motion death stumble of all time. As I fought to regain my footing and not hit the ground, several factors all came in to play at once. I'm wearing a giant backpack...my hunchback of Notre Dame appendage...and it is NOT helpful in balance control. Oh, quite the contrary. Imagine a slow motion cartoon of Elmer Fudd stumbling, huge pack on his back, arms flailing with trekking poles securely velcro fastened to each wrist and wildly swinging in the air. Reawyn just keeps saying "over-compensate, over-compensate", which was not meant to be a command, but instead was her blow by blow sports commentary of the show.
I managed to stay upright and only slightly pee my pants by the time I came to a halt. Then we laughed our heads off!
Y'all...It didn't get better. I won't even bore you with the rest. The highlights are:
I got another blister.
We said goodbye to Reawyn as she decided on two days in a hotel to rest.
We decided to give up on walking on highways and asphalt and take a city bus to our destination point for today.
We took bus advice from a patient who literally JUST walked out of the psychiatric hospital we passed on the way (turns out he was a very nice man who is probably a high - functioning autistic gentleman and he knew the bus schedule and city map by heart).
We managed to get lost inside the city in the absolute worst neighborhoods you can imagine. If I were a hostel or Albergue or hotel, I would NOT choose these neighbourhoods. However, if I were a drug dealer or human trafficker, I would consider it prime property.
We witnessed a domestic discussion that ended with a rather large woman dragging a very broken pack-n-play playpen down the street.
We walked past housing that reminded us of our days on the Mexico border working in the colonias.
Praise Jesus, we finally found our place for the night (we opted for a private room instead of Albergue bunks tonight). We doctored more foot ailments and bathed and found food.
Sunday HAS to be better, right? Maybe Pretty Camino is just around the corner? :)