Among the pilgrims there’s lots of talk about the best way to prevent pain…I’m using boots that feel comfortable and are a size bigger than normal to give sweating/expansion room, plus cushioned socks. Also, apparently baby-soft feet are the thing – no hard skin. So I apply body butter, then talcum powder. Some use vaseline. And pre-emptive strips of zinc-oxide tape. However it is apparent that some things work for some people and not others. My feet are holding up beautifully – not a blister in sight. No complaints from my tendon.
On the way to Samos, I fell into step with Elizabeth from Australia….lovely, straight-talking, 30/40(?)-something ex-lawyer and Sydneysider….a staunch monarchist Catholic with a passion for Saint Anthony of Padua…(with whom I think I will now be consulting, on her recommendation). She’s on an extended break prior to embarking on a Theology PhD. You can’t help warming to someone who actually likes the Union Jack on their flag. Love the Queen she says. Absolutely love her. Do you think Diana was just a tad…unstable?… Hmmm…I say… I think she was very young and although very appealing, not necessarily the most suited to being the wife of a future British monarch. Thumbs up for Kate though, whom we both think is.
Your exchanges on the Camino are almost like thinking out loud…like a conversation with yourself. Some people you talk to are at a significant juncture in their lives. Everyone is sympathetic…and no-one is overtly giggling when I say I’ve experienced some recent losses and have been grieving for…a cat. As you walk along you’re actually looking down in front of you…so you can’t see them rolling their eyes; but I don’t think they did.
Now I’m feeling tired. Really tired…feet fine but my actual bones feel heavy and I sleep as soon as I arrive in Sarria – the town which marks the minimum 100km mark at which many new pilgrims join the route so they can receive the Compostela certificate. The receptionist at the hotel helpfully gives me a town map and directs me to the monastery to get my ‘sello’…or stamp that every pilgrim must get (2 a day from Sarria onwards) in their Pilgrim’s Credencial (or pilgrim’s passport)….except that although his map has street names, the roads generally do not …and I put in another 10k I reckon, before I have supper in a tapas bar full of pilgrims from South Korea(?) and head back home. The 10 Euro pilgrim’s menu (inc good wine) is a 3-course bargain. It could get a little samey after a while; but most hungry pilgrims are satisfied with Galician soup (spinach and potato), pork with red peppers and Santiago almond pie for dessert. I’m getting used to this…and I’m grateful that I’m so massively fortunate that I can take time out to just walk…