Distance walked: 13.6 miles
Music of the day: random bachata music for a morale boost
I bought a coffee and tortilla español at the hotel before setting off. I had taped up my feet really well in the hopes that my feet would make it through the day. Even though I left by 7:45, I think I was the last one out of the hotel. There is this intense rush in the morning that starts to become really stressful: everyone gets up and leaves very early in the hopes of getting a bed in the next main town. It feels very contrary to the “walk your own walk” mantra of the Camino.
I kept along at my own pace, walking mostly alone but getting passed left and right by other pilgrims. I ran into Charlene, another pilgrim from Australia, and we commiserated about the fast pace that we feel pressured to maintain. Being the rebels that we are, we decided to take as long as we needed to take and let the road dictate our path. But every step still hurt.
Midway through the day, I sat under a tree right before the town of Lorca to eat my apple and cheese sandwich. I also took a nap, which was magnificent. I felt very rested and continued to walk.
Within 15 minutes, though, my feet took a turn for the worse. I started to feel a cramp beneath my right foot. It hurt all over. Taunting voices in my head cried out, “Plantar fasciitis! Plantar fasciitis!” a condition which terrifies me because it means that I’d be out of commission for a few days. I limped into Villatuerta feeling helpless and near tears. Barely able to walk, I stopped at a bar to sit down outside.
I ordered a San Miguel beer. Beer has never tasted so good. I took my shoe off to examine the damage. Not pretty. I’ll spare you too many details, but my right pinky toenail definitely was a little loose. I removed my protective sleeve from the toe to see if that would help, and I chatted a bit with two local women at the table next to me. A wedding was going on at the cathedral down the street, and some of the guests were stopping by the bar for additional drinks.
I tell you, alcohol and Saint Michael were my saviors that afternoon, because when I got up, I felt a lot better. My feet still hurt, but the cramping was gone. I was able to make it to Estella and got the last bed in the parish hostel. Happily, within the half hour, I ran into both Lukas (who was sleeping on a mattress in my same hostel) and Colin, who was staying elsewhere. After we all washed up, laundered our clothes, and rested, Colin and I went to the pilgrim Mass at the nearby church, which offered a pilgrim blessing at the end. The parish priest took us all aside by language spoken, gave us a prayer card, and gave a personal blessing.
“Where are you from?”
“From the United States.”
“And what is your name?”
“Rebecca! God bless you. Good luck. Goodbye,” he intoned in a friendly, but comically perfunctory way.
We all met for dinner in town afterwards. Lukas’ two German friends, Jasmine and Kris, joined us. I was feeling really stressed out. I was exhausted and in a lot of pain. I was tired of being rushed in the morning, taking my time during the day but then getting into the next town late in the afternoon, leaving barely enough time to settle in, eat, and wash my clothes before the curfew forces us into bed, only for the whole process to start again early the next morning. And forget about writing anything. And then I thought again, “I don’t have to do this.” I wouldn’t go to the next “stop” tomorrow, Los Arcos, where everyone else would be rushing to get a bed. I would walk to Montjardin, a mere six miles away. And again, the lightbulb came on, and I felt a huge sense of relief. I slept like a log.
I thought the appropriate American blessing would be: “Rebecca! God bless you. Have a nice day.”