When I was younger my mother used to tell me I had my grandmothers feet. Not her own mother’s feet mind you, but the feet of dad’s mum. She must’ve had bad feet. Our grandmother on Dad’s side was a beautiful little Irish lady who was obviously very capable and had travelled to Australia by ship alone at 16 years of age in order to find her brother and a new life. She had a lovely slim figure, beautiful skin and a great Irish accent that never left her. She also had a good head of hair, and, I might be twisting the truth with the memory of a child, but I don’t think she even had a grey hair until well into her sixties. (I started going white in my teens). I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking the exact same thing. Why couldnt I have inherited her accent? It would be much more fun walking the Camino with an Irish accent rather than Irish feet.
Well those feet still managed to carry me along for another 20k’s out of Leon after quite a late start. We watched our bags leaving for the first time when the transport man arrived at Hospederia Pax just as we were leaving and we begged him to let us hop in too. He laughed and drove off. Before leaving Leon I finally found a farmaci with a form of strapping tape. Not the sort of tape I was looking for but strapping tape none the less and it worked to hold my heel tight. I also picked up a pair of Teva sandals to give my feet a break now and then in the heat – and to help me out in the case of rain. My beloved was eager to accompany me on the shopping expedition before we left town (not) and found himself a new belt, some hiking socks and a couple of other things in the pilgrim store.
Just before the shops opened, and whilst we were having breakfast (sort of), two of our mad friends appeared. Michelle and JC wandered past the bar (remember you eat in bars here, its not all about alcohol) and we invited them in for a coffee. JC was suffering severe tonsilitis but was fortunate to have fallen for a vet nurse. Michelle was able to identify the problem and ensure he sought urgent medical attention and acquire antibiotics before things got worse. I was able to provide a couple of panadeine forte to help ease the pain in the meantime. They wandered off in search of a medico and we made our few purchases and headed off out of the city – very very slowly!
It was hot again – diver dave said it was hitting 30 in the shade. My heel was hurting quite badly and after a few kilometres we stopped and had some food so I could take the Brufen. I had the Panadeine forte as well. I had already strapped it up as best I could. If we were going to make the next albergue (which had a swimming pool) before midnight we had to move a little faster than my current pace of 2km an hour. Well those drugs actuallly seemed to work again. I never saw myself as needing to rely on pain relief in order to go about my day but 20km hikes tend to take their toll on you!
Well after we finally left the urban sprawl (about 8kms out) we hit a dirt track and new scenery. I actually thought the bush reminded me a bit of Nyngan where my good friend Heather and her husband Mark breed sheep in “outback” australia. I knew I wasnt at Nyngan (I wasn’t delirious or anything) but I thought it held a great resemblence to that country. I realised at this point that my beloved had not once mentioned Julia Creek (his birthplace) this trip. Obviously only South America can look like Julia Creek.
The only people we met that day were a young Dutch couple travelling at around our speed (okay my speed) and we all dropped in to the only bar for a cool drink about four k’s before our stopover. I told them I had called ahead as I was pool shopping along the Camino. Anna told me she had been there last year and there was no water in the pool – but it had been two weeks earlier. I was always ready for pool let down after my past experiences but I did hope for the best.
Anyway we finally arrived at Jesus’s Refugio and were simply blown away. As you first enter town there is a well maintained little Albergue Padua on your right, with a green lawn and some very relaxed people out the front (I wondered if Janice might have been there weeks before). We had to turn left down a dirt track and could only see what was a dilapidated building next to an old fence with a Pirate ship peaking out. We both wondered whether we (I) had made the wrong decision sending our bags to Jesus and not Padua. As we entered the garden there was an above ground concrete pool (with water) on our left, the pirate ship on our right and a path bordered with flowers leading to the beer garden and our own green lawn – all in front of a not very appealling two storey construction. Inside we checked in and Nerea showed us to our room through what seemed a labyrinth of halls with messages from past pilgrims all over them. Our bags were in our room which seemed to be clean but old and we were thrilled with our 5 euro a night habitacion doble.
The door didnt quite shut, nor did the window onto the next balcony for that matter. A lady walked passed just as my beloved decided to “drop his dacks” and change into shorts to wear to the shower. She wasn’t even frightened – she just laughed and moved on. I was eager to don my swimmers and head for the pool. On our way in we had seen the four American college students who scored a room together, Michelle and JC were out the front and the Dutch couple ended up walking in and taking a little condo out beside the pool. All was well in the world.
After dinner I went back to the room and heard the beginning of a thunder storm. There were mattresses along the balcony for the crowds that would arrive in late summer and a guy from New Zealand and a couple of American girls were outside enjoying the cool night air. I decided to join them on the free mattress and tried my luck at lightning photography. Two Italian kids who were travelling with family joined us also and we all clicked away for about half an hour. It was actually one of the more enjoyable evenings I felt. My beloved had stayed downstairs in the beergarden with Michelle and JC – this time the purpose was not for food okay, but it was at least evening so a beer or two is allowed – he popped up to the balcony just for the last few minutes of the lightshow.
The only real downside of this place was the noise at 5.30-6.30am when the masses departed and wooden floorboards echoed every footstep into the high ceilings. But by 6.30 they had mostly all gone! We stayed in bed until 7.30am and carried our packs again the next day.