20 A Long Hot Day

Last night was not exactly comfortable. My lower back was in a full spasm. Pain was the constant whenever I tried to move, or even when I was staying still. Comfort was out of reach…. When I was lying down I was somewhat more comfortable, but ultimately I wasn’t able to get up and walk out of the small dormitory for dinner. I decided to just stay in bed and relax my back.

I decided the best diet was water and ibuprophen. My sister Nancy is making jokes wondering if there is enough ibuprophen in Spain for me to complete the Camino…. not to worry, I’ve cornered the market.

During the night I woke at 1:30am to snack on the “Camino candy”, and then again at 7am just before leaving town. All of this manage the pain and try to overcome the discomfort. Everyone else goes out for dinner, and I have no appetite what so ever.

I was trying to sleep at 8pm, and probably managed to drop off before 9 with all the people coming in after their night out. I found two heavy blankets and placed one against my back to keep this part very warm, and another blanket to cover me. For the most part this must have worked well. I did get to sleep despite feeling this wasn’t going to be possible.

When I woke in the morning my back was feeling 80% better, but this is before walking today. The route is about 6km to Carrion, then 17km to the next town. The warning in the standard Pilgrim guide points out…..make sure you take provisions for the day….there’s nothing between here and there. (I paraphrase)

I decide to grab a bite in the small village where I was staying then walk to Carrion which is about 6 or 7km Away, and then decide if I am up to the walk the following 17km once I arrive.

When I leave the Albergue I find nothing is open. This town is literally deserted of any visible life form. There is no breakfast until I reach Carrion…so I head out of town at 7:15am, fully and hour and 10 minutes before sunrise.

Walking in the dark is rather cathartic. There is a full moon tonight and a flashlight isn’t required to see the path. The moon illuminates the path sufficiently and it is only once or twice when I need to turn on my headlamp. Walking doesn’t hurt as much as lying down oddly enough. In some was the thick padded belt of the pack is comfortable as it presses against the small of my back.

Full Moon! This explains my back…..I am not superstitious but this makes as much sense as anything else to explain the sudden back pains.

After more than an hour the sun still has not come up, and I am just arriving in  Carrion and run into Steph from Connecticut. She left before me and is sitting in a cafe in one of the squares in Carrion. After asking how my back is she let’s me know there is a bus schedule in a chalk board inside. I decide to finally have something to eat since yesterday and settle down gingerly in the aluminum chair.

I look at the bus schedule. The bus to Léon departs at 11:45am, and it is just about 8:30am now. I don’t want to wait so long for the bus….but today is at least 17km without a place to call a cab, get on a bus, or get a ride.

My early morning drugs are starting to help….and I decide I will go for the walk.

Walking out of town I cross a river, and far below someone is getting a lesson in fly fishing. This isn’t something I was really expecting to see….

I’ll shorten the story to dispel the drama component. There is no a cloud in the sky, but the temperature is moderately lower than it has been. The one point making this easier to manage is the cool breeze blowing from the east. The wind is also keeping the flies at bay for some reason…

Steph is a power walker….she easily outpaces even the fastest walkers on the Camino. She knows my back is terrible, and decides to walk with me today. The conversation helps to keep my mind off my back, and is a welcome diversion.

At one point early in the walk from Carrion Steph says she hears a horse. Sure enough there is a horse drawn cart coming up the road behind us. We look at the passengers…. here are Robin and Lynn from Australia, two other Australians, and Julia and Olivier from Ireland sitting in the back, sans packs, having a delightful ride for the next 17km. We beg to be given a ride…but the driver refuses to stop the “bus”. I assume this is somethings my they arranged in Carrion the previous evening when they arrived. Clever……

Just a quick note on the “Camino Flies”. At this time of year the crops have been harvested, and just before the soil is plowed over preparing for the following year’s crops, manure is spread on the fields. Talk about a hay day for flies. Flies, as it turns out, are attracted to putrid, moist, bacteria laden materials. The stinkier the better.

Now, flies are attracted to pilgrims as well, and it is not uncommon to be trying to swat these things constantly all day as they buzz around your face, trying to land.

I decide to try an experiment… as we are walking on farming paths it is common to see major “droppings from cows, horse, and sheep. These always have a large number of flies attracted for the reasons listed above. My plan is to walk close to the droppings and see if the flies are more attracted to the “scat” on the road.

Unfortunately, and somewhat humiliating…I have picked up more flies than I had before the experiment… I take it I have more attractive values than roadside mature…at least to Camino Flies.

Relentless sun is taking it’s toll….I am really starting to fade.

Calzadilla de la Cueza is hidden in a small Meseta depression and couldn’t have come a moment sooner. I am noticing my back again and it is 1:00pm. There are few lodging options. A municipal Albergue with 40 beds in a room, or a private Albergue. I decide on the private…as do a raft of other people I have been walking with on and off.

So far Steph from Connecticut, Peter (Pierre) and Laura from Oakville, Bob from NY, Earl from Oregon, and “The German Guys” are all staying here. It will be interesting to see who else shows up, and decides to call it a day.

If I see anyone from the horse cart there is going to a bit of a ribbing about how tough the walk was today…….