SAN XULIAN

First day for us both over, will our legs work again?

It’s hard to describe how we felt after completing 28 kms the day before. I do know we didn’t bound out of bed and set off with a spring in our steps.

The next stage started, again, climbing for about 5 kms. We left the comfort of the albergue at around 8 am. We used what I called “the Camino Shuffle” for the first few hundred yards before our legs got the circulation going again.

It’s funny but after a while the muscles seem to remember how to work again. The stiffness gives way and the legs begin to get into a pace. This pace needs to be learned on steep slopes. In my head I had a rhythm which seemed to be locked in for flat walking but when you got to steep laneways you had to change the tune.

I tried to convince AM that after 3 days it starts to get easier to recover in the mornings but I’m not sure she believed me.

She did great though, day two and she was back on the pace with me. We walked again for another 11 km or so for the first stage of the day.

We were coming across more and more Spanish schoolkids who seemed to be doing sections of the Camino with their teachers. We came across a few groups who were dropped off by coach at a couple of sections and they would really annoy us by running up hills while singing or even dancing as they went. Don’t you just hate young, fit people.

Our lunch break was at Portas, no more than a couple of buildings and a café. The café had some pretty modern sculptures of giant ants holding up the pergola structure. We had a welcome socks-off break and some food and drinks before setting off. I made a valiant effort to run alongside some of the youngsters. Gave up after a few steps. No point in embarrassing them with my agility.

The walk was taking its toll on my feet. Not so much blisters, although they were still needing treatment, but I have a problem with neuromas which are causing severe stabbing pains in my toes. I was taking painkillers but they were beginning to have no effect really. This problem has been the reason for my breaks and for me not tackling some of the tougher stages. I was starting to get worried. I wasn’t sure I could complete the walk. Depression was beginning to set in. Not clinical depression but a sort of depression for the fact that I would miss the peregrinos and also let AM down.

We walked into Palas De Rei, passing a football academy. When we got down the hill from here into the town my foot was killing me. AM convinced me to see a doctor. We asked the waitress where the nearest doctor was and she told us it was back up the hill at the football academy. I couldn’t make it back up there. We got a taxi.

The medical centre at this place was odd, very quiet, no patients in waiting rooms, although there was one lady in with the doctor.

The doctor was accompanied by, what looked like, a trainee and a lovely lady nurse – Olga. Their treatment and concern for me was wonderful. We had some problems with language but they did a great job. “No walking for a day or so” was the advice. I couldn’t really afford this break. AM and I had plans for the end of our trip.

San Xulian albergue hats

San Xulian albergue hats

We got a taxi on to our albergue in San Xulian after getting bandaged up and getting some antibiotics and more painkillers. The albergue was beautiful, weird, but beautiful. But my heart wasn’t really in it. Even after meeting Sabi, my Texan friend as we walked into the large dining area, my heart was sinking with every minute.

We had a drink before walking over to our accommodation – a renovated watermill. When I say walk over, I mean we had to walk through a field with cows in it to get to the room, but it was worth it.

We rested for a while before going back over to the dining room for our communal meal.
This as one of those meals where we all sat together and shared in whatever the hostelier had prepared. We weren’t disappointed. Three different soups, salad, spaghetti with meatballs and a creamy cake dessert along with wine. Over 30 people sat and talked and enjoyed the warmth of the other peregrinos. I tried my best but tomorrow was lingering on my mind. What was I going to do?

I tried my best to relax and enjoy. We met some lovely people. There was nothing I could do – I wasn’t going to be able to finish, was what was going through my head.

We finished our meal. I felt bad for AM that she wasn’t getting the best out of this meal. We walked back to the watermill.

We hadn’t planned transporting our rucksacks the next day as we had decided to move on by bus or taxi for a couple of days. I was gutted.

Not a great night’s sleep that night.

About CJ

Setting out 1st September to walk El Camino. I am walking the French Way and starting at Logroño. My wonderful wife is joining me at Sarria to finish the walk with me.
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