25 A Lot of Asphalt

I had 4 German people and one Korean fellow as room mates last night. The Korean fellow and I were in bed at 8:45pm…..and our German friends were nowhere to be found. The came back in not the room around 10:00pm, immediately turned on the overhead lights and talked loudly. One of the women noticed we were sleeping and started whispering to the noisy guy to be quiet. This prompted the guy to switch to English saying “11 o’clock is the time for pilgrims to go to bed….and they should know this”.

I am too much of a pacifist, and realize this fellow has been looking at the bottom of quite a few bottles of something. The fine science of dealing with drunks….just let them have their way,,… unless it involves driving.

When I wake up in the morning I am tempted to switch on the lights…returning the favour….But I don’t do it.

Tne path out of town is well marked and there is really no chance to get lost. Just walk down the road following the signs. When I say we’re walked on asphalt a lot of the day, only about 1/2 the time walking was on natural paths. I knew this was case so I decided to wear running shoes to save my feet. This turn out to have been a classic, and complete novice error.

Today’s weather will be 28c and clear skies….but this morning is 5 degrees. It really feels like 5c outside. My only option is to bundle up including the hat, fleece and my gloves.

As I head out the door it feels exactly like 4c..if not more like -4c. The sunrise will happen at 8:30am so I hope we can stay warm until the sun ignites the sky and we can enjoy the perfect weather as we walk.Sure enough the sun rises and the pilgrims start stripping layers off. And now the heat of the day begins in earnest.

We pass small town after small town, but really there is’t any need to stop for anything….but still on the asphalt…always the asphalt.

I take count of my sore points like the teacher in the movie Ferris Beuller….

Right knee are you present and ready to work. Yes Sir! (Hmmmm this was hurting yesterday, but today is fine)

And how about you Left ankle…..do you have anything to complain about. No Sir! (Again…why no pain today)

How about those shin splints on the left. Not an issue today Sir! OK, so what gives…..

I’m actually feeling very little pain today. Perhaps I am finally conditioned? Let’s see how the day goes. The route today is about 24 ~25 km. From Ponferrada to Villafranca.

One interesting note for anyone interested in red wine…this is the Bierzo region of Spain. The unusual mountainous terrain creates a micro climate suitable to grow grapes for a specific wine. This just happens to be my favorite varietal called Mencia. Alas, as I am drinking so little on this Camino I will have to go out of my way to sample some really nice examples. Yes, I’ll take a bullet for the team.

Remember I said I had very little pain? About 2 1/2 hours into the day I was struggling just trying to walk with the pains my toes and heels with every step. I think my feet swell as I walk the long distances and my toes start rubbing against the fronts of my shoes. This is what is causing the toenails to start showing signs of separation. It is better when I walk uphill, but murder on the down hill sections. No surprise. My heels feel like they are bruised….very tender as a result of repeatative pounding on the pavement.

There is so little to say about all of the small hamlets, towns and village you pass through on this Camino. Every now and then you will see something unusual or odd. This is what I found today…..

I finally limp into Villafranca around 2 in the afternoon. The sun pounding down on our backs. I decide to head to an Albergue having seen their advertisements along the side of the path multiple times. I get a single room for 24 Euros, but this includes breakfast. Not a bad deal for a single room. As it turns out I get a double bed with sheets, Score!

Finally I am able to get those running shoes off my feet, have a shower and lay down on my giant size mattress.

i have a message from Sue Davey in Canada saying some friends of hers are also on the Camino….and after multiple messages back and forth it turns out they are on a hotel 25 ft from my Albergue.

So I fire off a couple of text messages and arrange to meet Louise and Lila for a quick bite.

We have a great time discussing the best and the worst of this Camino and I tell them my idea for tomorrow.

I should explain, it is an awkward stage because of the major climbs involved, and the total distance to be covered. There are two serious climbs and descents, then a giant climb to a place called O’Cebreiro. The total distance to be covered is 30km. I’m sorry, but my body isn’t going to take this punishment.

Enter “Plan B”. I have read in time gone by the locals in the town at the base of this last mountain would take the pilgrims to the top on horseback in return  for prayers being said on their behalf in Santiago. I’m thinking the prayer thing may have been forgotten some time ago.so now you can go to the top on horseback for small fee…..I am not a horse lover….perhaps I should say I wasn’t a horse lover until now.

That’s the plan for now….other than to try and recover from today’s grueling march.