Today we left late – actually normal by our standards – 9am. On the other side of town we stopped at the sign we were waiting for – 200km to Santiago – woo hoo! We were almost there. Well in Camino terms 200km is the downhill slide. Forget the fact that 90 percent of people start their Camino somewhere between here and 100km – this for us was big. Until I realised I had left my hat at the albergue that is! My beloved very kindly went back and retrieved it from under the leg of the chair I was sitting on drinking coffee – I would have been too slow and made the start even later!
Aside from that little hat distraction its also kind of sad. Our adventure is coming to an end. The not needing to focus on anything more than where our next stop is for the night or, more specifically, where our next footstep will fall and the thrill of meeting new people from vastly different countries may be difficult as we return to “normal” life. All the wonderful people we have met will become part of our memories. Certainly some we will manage to stay in touch with. There has always been that daily disappointment on the Camino when people have gone faster and we (well I) couldn’t keep up. Many of our friends have even finished and been granted their compostellas (the certificate you get from the Cathedral in Santiago). Some may have gone home injured unable to finish – we will never know.
There has also been disappointment when people have been slower (like one of our favourite Frenchmen Anthony and his nice ass Marten – did I mention he has a beautiful dog also?).
Then there has been the thrill of catching up to someone we thought was long gone. Usually they slow down because they had a blister or other injury or had to wait for someone but not always. It is a bit like life really. But I digress …
So today was another heatwave. I popped into a breadshop to get a drink at one point and the outside thermometer read 42 degrees – in the shade. Are we insane? What were we doing walking? Well truth is we sent our bags on again so we had to walk 20 k’s to where they were. I actually couldnt read the guide books today. I thought it was only about 16km in the end. There were three routes to follow apparentemente! One easy, one hard and one completely and utterly insane! No prizes for guessing which one we picked.
Well the difficulty in reading distances was that the hard one was recommended on the guidebooks because of the views and even on my phone app, so distances were based on that route. The easier route was seemingly shorter and followed the river without going up and over the hills. We hoped that meant shade. Sadly our hopes were dashed kilometer after kilometer. We followed a river all right. It was beautiful, clear, rocky and we could even see trout swimming in places it was so pristine. But could we find an easy access point for me to get down have a swim and then climb back up? No – this meant walking on and on and on. My beloved kept lying down on benches in the shade whenever he saw one. I kept reminding him it was only getting hotter. Although I did suggest at one point we get an albergue bed and sleep for a few hours. We kept on.
I don’t think I’ve told you this before but I collect taxi numbers. Yep taxi numbers. This is purely a camino thing of mine, with all the pain and torture I have endured, I have made a point of keeping the local taxi number on my phone or in my pocket whenever I see it written somewhere. This is like a safety net in case we need it. We havent caught one yet (except to go off camino twice to the shops) but the option is always there and we agreed to use it if we have to. At one point when we were wandering alone in todays heat, in the middle of nowhere, I suffered a mental breakdown I’m sure. I started singing “Taxi, Taxi” . Actually I was yelling it as I meandered down the path delusional and yet completely sane. At the next town we stopped for a cold drink and as we left I looked at a couple of ladies relaxing in the shade of their albergue and I started singing Willie Nelson “On the road again”. They laughed and sipped their icy cold drinks. Heat does that to you. Well it does it to me anyway.
At one of our stops we met another nice man with a dog. This dog is on his second camino but is doing it in style this time. He is basque but not from Bilbao so probably doesnt know Jacob.
Finally the river came to meet us on the side of the road about 1km from our destination. I sat and soaked my feet for all of five minutes and wiped myself down completely with the cool water ready for the home run. Husband kept walking. When we got to our room he passed out and could not even shower. I put the classical music station on the tv and dozed as well and then went down for dinner alone.
It seems husband was suffering heat stroke! He was hot (as you already know) but really hot, had a squirmish stomach, didn’t want dinner and most surprising of all – could not face a beer! I sat in the courtyard alone overlooking the beautiful valley and that darn river (it was so out of reach again). I ate asparagus with mayonnaise, fresh caught trout – with mouths gaping, and drank a gin and tonic (I didn’t have heat stroke). As it turns out this was probably the first day I had not suffered excrutiating pain at all – well it was clearly husband’s turn for some down time. Two days of heat wave in the area that is supposed to be the coolest is just not right. Apparently tomorrow we are going up to 1200 metres again and it is meant to be a maximum of 24 degrees so we might need jackets if the rest of the day is only 17 degrees – we’ll probably get pneumonia!
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