Hit Me With a Your Best Shot

 

Sick as a dog

Sick as a dog

Humbling Experience

June 29, 2014

Sick…just awful sick. I have had horrible stomach, lower right back pain for 4 hours. I have been throwing up for 3 hours. What I haven’t been able to purge from my one end, it is going out the other end.

It is early Sunday morning. I am two days away from Santiago. Right now, my eye is focused on the destination at hand. And here I sit, at 2 am in the toilet stall, on the floor, with my face pressed against the cold tile on the wall. The restroom smells of mold due to lack of ventilation. I am listening to the snoring coming from the sleeping room and faint Spanish music wafting up through the walls. Weird. Bizarre.

This does suck. No way to put it in nice friendly humorous terms. It is all part of the adventure/journey. I don’t like this part. This is the way we started our Camino. Abby was sick. And here we are, just shy from completing it, and I am sick.

I’m sure people in the dorm are just thrilled to hear the echoes of my sickness, just as much as me. I am embarrassed by the sounds coming from my body. I would apologize to the other pilgrims as they get up in 3 hours, but I do not speak French. Yes, all the beds on this level are filled with French people. I spent 10€ for a bed on the bathroom floor. That should be a headline for a commercial.

I am hoping to walk…oh…who am I kidding? I can’t walk today. Let me rephrase that statement. I am hoping that this Albergue will allow me to stay another night in order to regain my physical strength to be able to move on.

Abby will have to play nurse and negotiate for our extra day. All I can muster up is a Linda Blair look, complete with spewing from the pie hole. Ah…my humor is returning. Perhaps the worse has passed?

2:30 pm. I am beginning to feel semi-normal. Not 100% there yet, but getting things together. The thought of eating doesn’t send me running to the bathroom to heave.

Abby was able to convey to the owner that I was sick and made arrangements for us to stay another night. The owner (?) came to clean the room and look in on me. She told me to sleep and stay in bed and not to come out of the room. And they kept checking in on me throughout the day to make sure I was sleeping and not dead or dancing.

This morning, a Polish man staying here heard me in the bathroom (who didn’t?) and said that he was a doctor. He went through his medicine bag and loaded me up with drugs ( anti diarrhea- which I threw up) and electrolyte drink mixes. He also checked my stomach out to see if I had appendicitis or any problems with my kidney. He sat on my bed to examine me. I told him that he had good bedside manners.

Then this afternoon, an Irish family checked in. They could hear the sounds coming from the bathroom and expressed sympathy and set about right then and there to fix me up. Phillip- the dad- poured me a shot of Spanish alcohol ( really…he has a shot glass) and in spite of my saying no to it, insisted that this would cure me. “Kills all the bugs inside your tummy.” He said. I drank it. Whew! It was strong for me as I don’t drink alcohol, but it was sweet too. “It is made with herbs,” he informed me. When he comes to Spain, he buys a case of it before leaving back to Ireland as it cures all that ails you.
And then he too went through his med bag to find me some Alka- Seltzer. Afterwards, he read me a poem he wrote about the 9-11 First Responders. He is a very talented writer.

The Camino does provide. Even on a Sunday with all the markets shut down. Abby walked all over town looking for an opened one to buy herself food and me some mineral water. I’m making do with cans of Aquarius ( a type of sparkle water/soda) that she obtained from a vending machine.

And that is that. Sleep. Rest. Let others help take care of me. I can’t do any more than just turn myself over to others.

6 pm. I took a walk up to the end of the street. I look like a zombie. But I am going to walk a few miles tomorrow and rest. Just keep plodding along.

 

 

Playing Along the Camino Way

Lazy Days

Lazy Days

Just Playing Around

June 28, 2014

We are in Spain and what are we doing today. Well, after having walked about 9 miles (and that is 9 miles in the rain, up hills and down hills and all around about) in the rain, we came to our destination and parked ourselves. Did our laundry using the machines. We wanted to make sure to get our poo clothes clean and have them dry. Hang drying was just not an option due to the chance of more rain.

We also have hung our other clothes on the end of the bed to dry out. Our walking sandals are drying out. We have no place to go. No need to go out and visit this nice town, Arzua, and so we have parked our bodies on the soft couch. Our feet and legs will not let us move even if we had the desire to do so.

And here we sit. Or lay. Doing nothing. Well…we did watch “Finding Nemo” in Spanish. And we are watching ” Footloose” the hot Kevin Bacon 80’s version ( Abby is laughing at his teenage angst). And we are enjoying using our tech devices. We are lounging on top of each other. We are being productive. We are bonding. Which is what we have been doing this entire month. Yes…we have been out on the road, living out of our backpack a whole month now. WOW…30 days of being together, 24/7. That is something. When we are home, Abby and I don’t see each other this much.

So for some fun stories:

*We just discovered that I lost 1 pair of Abby’s underwear a couple of days ago when I forgot to take all her clothes off the line.

*Abby’s favorite purple pants ripped right down the inside of her leg as she was walking yesterday. This meant that she had to do a wardrobe change on the trail. And I sewed them up later that night by hand.

*We ate octopus. A Galician specialty in Melide. The octopus sits in a hot steamy bath, is taken out, cut up with scissors and fried in hot oil with garlic and seasonings. Tasted pretty good. You have to eat it hot or when allowed to cool down, the texture is like cheese curds on your teeth. And yes…of course you have to play with the tentacles.

And to top off the funny stories:

* I was taking a shower two days ago in an Albergue where the shower door had a three inch gap. Well, unbeknownst to me, the bathroom door didn’t latch all the way and the wind blew it open. An older French man (what is up with me and the French?) was standing in the doorway, admiring either my jelly belly or my tatas. He closed the door when I noticed him. Ahhhh!
For the rest of the day and into the evening he kept smiling at me. He even moved over on the bench outside for me to sit by him so the birds wouldn’t poop on my head as they were going to do if I sat on the other benches. Wasn’t that thoughtful?

All great stories to tell for years to come. Special meaning for Abby and I as we have lived this pilgrimage together. These are the stories that come with living the experience.

Walking on Sunshine (Not)

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Rain. Go. Away.

June 28, 2014

And it didn’t stop raining for hours, in spite of my pleas to God to make it stop. So we walked on. My theory was proved correct. Walking up and down the trails is not fun when it is raining. The water comes at you as you are walking up. Mass amounts of poo water. Poo from the sheep. Poo from the cows. Poo from the dogs. Poo from the humans. Not kidding about that last sentence either. Humans poop right there in the middle of the trail. All that water was rushing down the hilly trail as we slogged through. Then, as we walked down the trails, the water streamed down the backside of our shoes. Our socks smell of poo. Our feet smell of poo. We reek of poo. We now fit in with the locals as we all smell of poo.

Let me define rain. Not the misty tinkle. Not the light drizzle. But the type of driving rain that can be found in a good thunder storm/hurricane/Hawaiian tropical outburst. And add in the wind blowing the rain, driving it into your legs, whipping your poncho hither and thither. Water streaming down your face as you continue to press forward. I was thinking about seeing pictures in Life magazine showing the troops walking in the rain in Vietnam. I only have to deal with this for a little bit. Those guys had to live in it for what must have seemed forever. My feet and socks will dry out by nightfall, unlike their feet that grew jungle rot.

See how this falls into a whole different perspective. My pilgrimage is nothing in comparison to the other trials and tribulations others have had to deal with from the weather elements.

When we were out on the Meseta, Abby asked me what I was thinking about. “oh…John Adams walking this very trail all the way to France,” I replied. She was taken back that I was pondering this. And I still think about this every time I am on the Camino walking along. Thousands of people over many years have walked this very path in all types of weather with little to no shelter along the way.
If they could do it, than so can I.

Now Abby and I have a great story to tell about the day it poured on us as we walked up and down lots of steep hills. How the clouds cleared a bit and the rain became mist as we observed the changes in the scenery and smelled the trees, flowers and fields which was intensifying with the rain.

Our journey is coming to an end. We walked about 14 Km today. There are only 22 miles left ( depends on which guidebook you are using). According to the weather forecast, we are going to be walking in the rain for awhile. So we will suck it up like real pilgrims and keep on going. And find places with warm showers and laundry machines.

Teeny Tiny House

The Lord of the Rings village house

The Lord of the Rings village house

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

June 25, 2014

We walked until 10:30 am. We stopped in Ligonde at a donativo ( Fuentes del Peregrino) and we decided to stay there for the night all because the hosts gave us a hug. Yup…we needed a hug after having spent yet another night having a dispute about leaving the window open. If you don’t want to sleep by the window and plan on closing it at night for fear of getting sick, then do everyone the favor by selecting a different bed placement. Ahhh!
This one window thing in the bottom of a remodeled cellar that holds 35 people along with showers that have no outlet for the water condensation and thus the smell of mold permeates the room, is apparently the norm. I don’t understand. The owners of these private albergues spend lots of money remodeling and yet don’t include more windows and a good ventilation system that will accommodate mass amounts of people.

Anyway, we had a great time at the donativo. Even though we had to wait till 1:30 to check in, we knew that we had to stay here. If you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep one of those cute little hobbits’ homes, I can tell you that it was way cool. Everything you imagine it would be and have seen in The Lord of the Ring movies.

The donativo is owned by Campus Crusaders- or- Agape- I was slightly apprehensive for two reasons: the hosts who were volunteering for the week were all French (flashback of French Banshee woman went through my mind) and I also know from previous conversations from my mission days with this organization, they believe my religion to be a cult and that we are not Christian. They also actively and openly proselytize against us. Mmmm…will we be kicked out if this comes to light I wondered. But they hugged us and we felt impressed to stay here and so we did.

We had a blast with this group of young 20 yr olds as we all slept right next to each other in beds that were pushed so close together, it was like one big slumber party, complete with jumping on the beds and having a pillow fight (I was the casual bystander). My faith in Camino humanity was restored. We laughed, talked, joked and just clicked. They were from Canada- but they are from Quebec which is like a country in of itself as the first language is French and then English. The other members of this walking party came from France, Spain and Croatia. We spoke in English and had a grand time communicating thoughts and ideas. We talked about religion too. The one guy said, “You know, when they floated Jesus’s head on the water.” We all looked at him and through our communication skills, learned that he meant baptism, but didn’t know the English word for the action. We had a great laugh. Later that night, we all shared a meal (8:15 pm was when they feed us dinner after the organization had us first attend a devotional/ fellowship) with a group of 42 young adults who came from Ireland to walk the Sarria – Santiago portion of the Camino. They all belonged to the religious group and were camping along the way. Afterwards, the Irish entertained us with singing. It was a great time for Abby to hang around young adults her age from other cultures and hear and compare life stories. Abby also has decided that we need to bring home the cute Irish guitar player/ singer/ studying Bio- medical science, to serenade her to sleep each night.

And too soon, our relaxing, enjoyable evening came to a close. In the early morning hour, we all headed out. They to walk the 34km distance and Abby and I to walk our 11 km. And that is the way the Camino is. Bond quickly with an individual or a group by sharing time and a meal together and then moving on. It is never a ” Good-bye” parting of ways, but a “See ya later alligator” type. We will meet again…someday.

 

What is the Objective?

Teeny- tiny roadside place

Teeny- tiny roadside place

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

June 24, 2014

Perhaps Abby and I are not normal. Maybe we are too nice. Perhaps we are too considerate. Something I have been contemplating these past three days. The Camino has changed. The type of people we are encountering are different. They are still people, but the attitude is one of selfish entitlement. For example, if people are sleeping in the bed area and it is early in the day, Abby and I would be quiet and respectful along with other people. Now, no one is respectful. Talking in a loud voice. Playing around. Moving others ( ours) property because they decided that their pack needed that space. Just very rude behavior.

Abby and I were asleep when a group of older French people came in yelling, making noise. Moving our stuff out of our area, placing it on the floor while they unpacked their things and spread them all out. Totally ignoring our gestures and words of protest.
And then we were given the display of old French men underware ( looks just like you would imagine) and then off came the underware and I am once again horrified to find myself face to crotch level of old French men twigs and nuts. Ahhhhh! And yes, it looks just like you would imagine. I am not talking about Burt Reynolds in his Playboy spread look either. Imagine an old Billy Goat…now you can be horrified too.

Oh…but wait…let’s all talk loud and yell and go on and on with no consideration for others sleeping. But, when it is time for them to nap, the look of indignation on their face…well French Banshee woman came back from the past to haunt me!

Like I told Abby, “perhaps there is a lesson we are supposed to learn, after-all these situations continue to repeat. Rude people who lack common sense and the need to drop their underware in front of us. Mmmm…what could the lesson(s) be?

Love one another? Be of good cheer? Give peace a chance? Whatever, we will continue to enjoy the help of others and focus on these acts of kindness instead of the rudeness.

A random act of kindness by a Spanish woman came our way today. We were looking for a place to stay, but they were booked up. We figured we would walk on to the other town about 5 miles away, but there are only two albergues in the town and we didn’t want to risk finding out that they too were all booked up. This woman heard us ask the one Albergue host if they could call for us and she said no. The woman said she would call and she found us a place. Yay! How nice was that?

We have also figured out that instead of booking ahead, we should probably utilize the municipal albergues as they will not accept reservations and our chances of getting a bed if we arrive early enough, will be better than going to the private ones that are being filled up with large groups of people traveling together.

Onward we go. Another 83km to go before hitting Santiago.

 

Those Darn Rocks!

100km from Santiago

100km from Santiago

Guided By the Spirit

June 23, 2014

This morning we prayed to find an Albergue to stay at. We understand that on this part of the Camino, beds are at a premium. People are reserving via the phone. We font have a phone. Come to find out ( and this is how we were able to get our two beds that night in Sarria when they were full) people are reserving beds at the private places, then when they come to town they go to see if the municipal ( less expensive) has openings. If they do, then they cancel their reservations at the private one. Sometimes the people call to cancel, or as in our case, they didn’t and the owner called them and found out they weren’t coming that night.
This can and will make it difficult for us.

We walked through the most beautiful scenery ever. This is the place I could live at. The stone homes with slate roofs are large farms with green pastures and gardens that are encased with rock walls that have moss and clovers and wild flowers growing out of them. We saw plenty of slate roofs covered with clover and moss.
When you see pictures of European countrysides, this is the place you see in the magazines. We walk through hamlets, not villages. The livestock smell permeates the air. Cows have deposited major explosions all along the trail/road. You can’t call them ” cow pies” as these cows are not making pies. More like “poop spray.”

The number of pilgrims has greatly increased. The attitude is about one self. People walking with cell phones pressed against their head having loud conversations. The smell of perfume and cologne about knocks me over as hikers rush past me. Loud groups of people. Families walking together. Youth organizations traveling in herds. Just not the same.

We reached our one destination only to find out that the place was filled. We walked to the next place, and that too was booked up. All by 10 am. People had reserved the rooms in advance. The one place we stopped at just opened last week. Very new. Super clean. The owners have done the Camino and decided to open a place. They opened the bar/ cafe last year and this year they have completed one room with 6 beds (primo bunk beds each one with their own charger station), showers, bathroom and a great gathering place outside. Casa Do Rego is the name of the place just before Mercadoiro. But, the owner called ahead for us to another Albergue and was able to get us reserved.
We were disappointed with not being able to stay at either of the two previous sites, but Abby said, “there is probably a reason why we weren’t able to stay there. Never know.”

As we were walking a very rocky dark part of the trail due to the over- hanging trees, we found out why we were meant to walk on. A man was laying in the middle of the trail with several people around him. I moved past to assess the situation. Abby stopped right in the thick of the group. People were talking in Spanish, German, Italian and French. I picked out some words. Looked at the man to see if he was having a stroke, heart attack…then I saw his arm. Broken at the wrist. Should have been compound the way it was broken, but no skin was broken. Just a very nasty break (he had tripped over a rock and his arm fell onto another rock when he went down). Well people were on the phone to the emergency number and it became apparent that he was going to have to walk out. People were in a frenzy. They didn’t know what to do at that point. Abby took control of the situation and told the people to wait. I broke a tree limb off, gave Abby the stick. She showed people that she needed something to wrap around his arm with. Someone found gauze/ Ace type bandage. Abby wrapped the stick to his arm. I was going to give him Ibprofine for the swelling, but he indicated that he had a heart problem and was taking meds for it. A woman, gave him her scarf and Abby and a Spainsh woman created a sling to keep it elevated and mobilize the arm. Then Abby picked up his pack and along with hers, walked with him. The Spanish couple kept beside him and the four of them went down the trail.

The ambulance took almost an hour to come. We all made it to the one and only Albergue ( the one that Abby and I had been able to reserve a room at). The medics were impressed with Abby’s skills. The French man was extremely grateful. The little international group all felt good with the outcome.

Our a First Aid training was finally able to be put into practice. Lesson learned, keep those First Aid skills fresh. Be prepared. And don’t be afraid to step in and take charge of the situation.

We will continue to allow the Spirit to guide us.

 

 

Stop and Smell the Roses

 

Clouds Look Like Cotton Candy

 

June 22, 2014

 

If taking it slow means staying in nice places like this farm I’m all for it!
We are staying in Barbadelo. We walked a whole 3.5 miles…didn’t feel like that many miles-felt like 1 mile. Our legs and booty are firm from climbing the mountains and hills. Our backpacks fit well. Our feet are strong ( yes…even my left one). We had to climb up a steep hill…no big deal after the ones we have conquered before, but for others who have just started their walk to Santiago from Sarria, it was a struggle for them.

 

I, of course was a huge sweat bucket, but that is the norm.

 

Last night’s experience at the Albergue was a complete new one for us. In all the ones we have stayed at, there is a 10 pm curfew and in the morning time a couple of people will start to make noise at 4 am and the majority of the people leave around 6:30.
Not at this place. The two women who shared the room with me came in from dancing at around 12 am. Lots of “kids” who stayed up till 1 am playing games, drinking beer and talking real loud right outside my door. I could care less. I’m used to noise. I’m a kinder teacher and I can sleep through anything (not that I sleep in my classroom when I’m teaching).

 

Well, I think I was snoring too loud, because sometime around 3 am the women both were rustling in their packs. I think it was for their earplugs. But they were snoring too!

 

In the morning, I woke up at 5 because the rooster next door was going off. But no one was awake. Nor was anyone up at 6. Finally, I got up at 6:30 and took my stuff out of the room to pack up. People got up around 7- 7-45.

 

The walk up to this Albergue was interesting. We were among about 200 walking. WOW! Lots of large groups…like church camp groups…walking, all color coordinated with teeshirts. Quite different from the way we have walked before. And women were wearing make-up with their hair done and wearing clean clothes and shoes and they had shaved, unbriused legs. People were put together, unlike us. We looked like mismatched smelly semi- homeless people.
We had some looks. Well…we did smell. We have bear hair legs. Our arms are peeling. And our backpacks are dirty.

 

Heck…we have been living out of our pack going on almost a month now.

 

And we walked 3.5 miles and parked our butts and watched the people walk by and the clouds move across the sky and the horses grazing and the cows lumber along in the field.

 

It is good to sit and smell the roses and swat at the flies.

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