Hadn’t taken three steps when I thought “this is the end”.
My, supposedly healed, toe was agony. I was crippled with pain.
I queried whether to send the bag on or not. I didn’t know what to do.
I decided to send it on and wait until the shops opened to buy another pair of walking shoes or sandals.
Went back up to Café Babia to think things through. Had a coffee and croissant and a zumo naranja.
Decided to try to modify my trainers by cutting the area where it was hurting my toe the most.
Bandaged myself up and stood up. “Bloody hell”, I thought, “Cobblers, who needs them”.
So I set off in, what I thought was a 15km stage through the Meseta bit which turned out to be 21km.
Only the most feared place on earth, according to Robert the Canadian.
“No shade, unbearable heat, no people except lonely shepherds” he said.
Walked though some lovely countryside, through Tarjados and Rabé de les Calzados and onward to Hornilllos.
As I came to the top of the shallow but long incline coming into Hornillos I could see it looming what seemed miles away. I started down the steep stoney hill and nearly gave up.
I sat down and took off my shoes and socks and, halfway down the hill, again tended to my feet. About 1 hour later I struggled up and was shuffling down the hill when Ann-Marie phoned me.
Honestly, her voice at that moment distracted me enough to hobble on down the hill, eventually after I had to tell her I couldn’t hold the phone and my walking sticks and concentrate, we hung up and I managed to limp wearily into this small village. Found a bar, sat and had fantastic chat with group of Canadians, Americans, French and English peregrinos.
Left a little wobbly from the beers and retired for the night to my albergue.
We chatted and then I met Pat and his wife Trish who was originally from Newry. After talking to them for a while I went to my room and Skyped my family and told them how much I loved and missed them – and I do.