As I write this, I am sitting in the cafe/bar on the ground floor of my hostal, again doing the peregrina shuffle where I order breakfast at the cafe and stay on their wifi until I start to feel like a mooch. The wifi in my room is no longer connecting, despite being able to find the network and enter the correct password, so I am left to find other means of going online. The upside of staying here is that the cafe plays British VH1 all morning, which – gasp- actually shows music videos. I had forgotten what it was like to watch music videos. It’s like I’m thirteen again.
On Tuesday morning (June 3), the bus from Frómista to Palencia took about 50 minutes, and then a train to León took about an hour. My guilt for skipping ahead was tempered by the fact that I loooove trains. I love them. Although I admit that it felt crazy to be zipping by so quickly. It’s easy to forget how far a mile is when you are going so fast. At one point, the train ran parallel to the Camino, and I saw other pilgrims walking along and felt a little twinge of regret. As if in response, my hip started to throb: “Hey you! Remember me? I AM HURTING, so stop being a chickenshit and enjoy your train ride!”
I had booked three nights in a hostal in León which was not too far of a walk from the train station. It was also on the Camino heading out of town, which meant that when I finally left town, my walking distance for the day would not have to include the walk through town. (Haha, leaving town on foot. That sounds so funny now). The sun was shining and the weather was pleasant and warm as I walked down the riverside park to the street where I would be staying. I already liked León much more than Burgos.
I checked into my room: a tiny thing, but with amenities like a desk and a nightstand and a private bathroom, the height of pilgrim luxury. Nevermind that the designers had crammed everything into the tiny room without a thought for ergonomics: I calculated that only a person with a femur about half the length of mine could possibly sit straight on the toilet without their legs being directly in the bidet, but whatever. I can sit side-saddle. No biggie.
After a stop at the neighborhood supermarket, I spent my first afternoon in my room watching Game of Thrones in bed and eating candied peanuts. Glorious.
Here is a summary of what I have done (or not done) over the following days while convalescing:
Wednesday, June 4: Morning trip to megastore El Corte Ingles to purchase things like toothpaste and shampoo, along with general ogling of items that I have no room for in my pack. Learned about King Juan Carlos’ abdication. Afternoon of watching Game of Thrones in bed and eating candied peanuts. (Again, glorious). Met up for tapas with Lukas, Lynn, and Garrett. Discovered that I do not like the local version of blood sausage (!) because it looks like cat food.
Thursday, June 5: Visited León’s cathedral in the morning, where I ran into Tabitha, a pilgrim from Ohio that I had met at the cello concert in Burgos. We decided that our need for vegetables was greater than our need to stay on a budget and so ordered gorgeous salads at a nice restaurant. She said that she would be visiting San Isidro, where the kings of León were buried.
“The Kings of Leon?” I deadpanned. “When did they die?”
Kings of Leon, looking somber, but not yet dead (photo courtesy of salon.com)
I also realized that my three days of rest in León were up, but that my hip in no way felt better. Spent a while walking to different clinics, where I finally found a clinic that would see me even though I am not an EU citizen. Was diagnosed with tendinitis, prescribed anti-inflammatories, and told to rest another five days. Sigh. OK. My only consolation was that this injury happened in Spain and that I was actually able to navigate the Spanish health care system in Spanish. If this had happened in France, I would have been royally screwed. We all know the extent of my French language skills.
Friday, June 6: The peregrina shuffle all day. Joined Lukas, Colin, Jasmine, Chris, Anthony, and Ciara for dinner and karaoke to celebrate Chris’ last day on the Camino. He would be leaving to return to Germany the next day. Almost lost bladder control watching Anthony singing “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” Declined to go dancing afterwards because tendinitis and dancing don’t tend to mix well.
Saturday, June 7 to Monday, June 9: I have entered full-on recluse mode, barely leaving my room (with the exception of meeting up with Jasmine and Colin for Burger King on Saturday night and venturing out for food that cannot be obtained at the hotel cafe). By Sunday morning, all of my friends have left town. My room smells like Tiger Balm, and I am all caught up on Game of Thrones. Starting to get a little bored and more than a little irritated at the lack of improvement in my hip.
Tuesday, June 10: Decide to be a bit more proactive about my hip, since pure rest has done little good. Spend the morning walking around town looking for physical therapy offices until I find one that has an available appointment that day. I return at 7pm and get beaten up on a massage table for the next 45 minutes, oscillating between embarrassingly loud laughter and yelps of pain as the sensation progresses from “ticklish” to “torturous.” (No exaggeration here: I was so loud at points that I was afraid that I was making a scene. But I couldn’t help it!) Despite the almost masochistic nature of the massage, I knew it was doing good. Sometimes it takes a little pain to loosen up the really tense spots. The therapist tells me that I do have tendinitis, but in addition, I have some areas of “fixation”- not quite sure what the translation in English is- and that the muscular tension has been affecting my range of motion on the left side. He recommends one more session and says that I can likely continue to walk – with caution- after that.
Wednesday, June 11: which brings us to today. This morning was the first time in a week that I did not wake up with little spasms and tension in my outer hip. The massage really helped. The next available appointment isn’t until Friday, so I will stay in León another three nights and then take the bus to Sarria on Saturday in order to finish walking the final 100k – slowly and without my backpack- to Santiago.
I have finished reading both Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, so I downloaded Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. That should occupy me for a bit, and I am already getting stares from other cafe patrons as I laugh aloud while reading.
Thank you for all of your prayers and words of encouragement. The past ten days have been a huge letdown for me because I had really hoped to walk all the way across Spain to Santiago. I guess what I have learned is that I cannot always be in control of things and that I need to “roll with the punches,” so to speak. So again, thank you to everyone who reads and comments on the site. It is greatly appreciated.