Running on Empty

Phew. I’m in Sarria, the last starting point for any pilgrims wanting to get the Compostela (certificate of completing the pilgrimage). You have to walk the last 100 kilometers to get the certificate and Sarria is the last major point before crossing the 100km mark on Camino Frances.

Last night in Triacastela was really great. With only one other person in the room, it was like having a hotel room. Frank from Belgium didn’t snore and I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had since I started the Camino. The albergue had warm woolen blankets and a heater so I was nice and cozy. All my stuff is finally completely dry after that rainy, soggy day whe it all got soaked. So, it was great. I highly recommend staying there if you find yourself on the Camino in Triacastela.

But now I’m in a hotel in Sarria after this very long day. The room smells like stale smoke, but it’s still nice to have my own room with my own bathroom and tv! A tv! The tv is on the Disney Channel because they are playing old school movies tonight. “Lady and the Tramp” is on right now. In English. Later they plan to show “Aladdin”. I don’t know if I’ll stay up for Aladdin, although I love that movie. It’s nice to just have my space and have a movie on tv, even if I’m not paying all that much attention to it. It’s nice to just lay here in bed, not walking, just being still. It’s all just…nice.

Today was a lot of downhill again. I woke up feeling really great. Well-rested and happy to be on the Camino, moving forward. But after a couple of hours of continuously going downhill, my legs and shoulders hurt and my hips were aching and almost numb from the weight of my pack. I’ve been trying to lighten my pack as I go, because I know I’m losing weight and the pack was probably a bit too heavy to begin with. The pack was as small and tight on me as it could go when I started and now it’s loose and can’t be made any tighter, so it’s moving around more. It makes my hips so numb I can hardly walk after a while. That’s the old “listen to your body” moment, when I need to take a break for a while. I’m planning a pack purge before leaving here in the morning. I have several long days in a row coming up, so now’s the time to lighten the pack.

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 A little staircase in the woods that gave my knees a bit of a break from the billion downhills.

 

The lack of open cafes and bars along the Camino is getting to me. Not only because I’m losing weight, but it’s just such a disappointment to push yourself the next 5km, because your guidebook says there’s food at that larger village and then you get there and there’s nothing open. It’s not just me, at least. There are always pilgrims hoping for food now and being disappointed. The guidebook is new, from this year, but I think it’s really only helpful for the peak season of summer. Today I sat on a stoop f a closed cafe to eat a little bread and another time I just had to take the pack off and rest on the side of the dirt path. I’m glad I bought those groceries in Bilbao. That’s really been my food several days, so far. I’m hoping that from here (Sarria) on in to Santiago, there will be more things open because there will be more pilgrims from here on in. I arrived in Sarria about 2:30 and ate lunch (cheeseburger and an apple) and hadn’t planned to stay at this hotel, but I followed the path and when I saw this hotel I just found myself wandering in and asking for a room.

Today I met a pilgrim I’d only heard about before. His name is Pedro and he’s carrying a stool with him. He’s from Las Vegas, NV and he began the Camino in September, but got leg cramps in Logrono so badly that he thought he’d have to stop. But he bought this white plastic stool to carry with him and when his leg bothers him, he just puts his stool down on the path and does leg stretches until he feels like he can continue. I walked with him for a while and talked a bit. This is his second time on the Camino. He did the whole Camino Frances in the Spring of 2013. He says the Spring is a better time to come because so many more places are open and people are more friendly (the locals, he means). He said this weather is outstanding, though and much like the weather in Spring. The sunny warm weather has held so far, so I’m feeling really good about that.

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Pedro and his stool.

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