[연재] 사랑하면 산티아고로 떠나라, 그녀처럼

[Serial] Leave for Santiago Trail if in Love like Her

15. Pain and jubilation!

Written by Su-a Lee, assistant principal cellist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

편집부 기자

작성 2019.01.28 09:23 수정 2019.02.09 10:47

This is where it gets confusing…

I gave a real live update last night about my vomiting bug, but now I have to go back a few days to catch up with news.

I realise that I don’t need to cover every aspect of my journey here, but I think it’s important to know that, after Jade and George stayed behind in Burgos five days ago, to absorb the bad news at home, they made superhuman efforts to catch up and did 41kms the next day! They joined us for second breakfast the day after that! What gladness and jubilation! Despite only knowing them for a fortnight, I am quite deeply attached.

Meanwhile, here is the day before our reunification :

Day 14 - Today we went from Hontanas to Itera de la Vega, a distance of only 19.5km, but my right calf is really not very happy, so I couldn’t do more.

My regular morning routine (generally by torchlight) consists of:
looking after my feet for blister prevention/Vaseline administration, Voltaren anti-inflammatory gel, bandaging of right calf, knee supports on both legs. This all takes up a good segment of getting ready in the morning.

When Gordon did his Camino, his morning routine was disciplined (to the extent of designated left and right socks!) and speedy. He was on the road within 10 minutes of his alarm.

Mine is somewhere between 40 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on how quiet I need to be in the dorm and whether I have breakfast at the albergue.

“Café con leche” varies in quality from bar to bar, but when they offer “zumo de naranja fresca” (freshly squeezed orange juice), it is, without fail, the most delicious thing imaginable. Wherever I see it, I want it!

The walking process has now become a scrutiny of the mechanics of walking. So, in order to avoid the various twinges and twangs that my poor feet and legs suffer, I have to experiment with weight distribution and forward momentum.

For example, if my body weight is not over the foot as it’s placed, I have a sharp pain in the shin. So I’ve discovered that if I lean slightly forward and keep my forward momentum balanced over each foot, it hurts less. The pole placement is also important, as the arms can take some of the pressure, so the whole movement ends up feeling like a smooth locomotive mime!

There are various mental considerations for every pain that I feel, and these pains seem to migrate as I walk, so my mind is constantly occupied!

However, there are times when the conversation with fellow pilgrims (who are in the mood to walk slowly!) is engaging enough to almost forget my pains. Thanks to Hartmut in particular this day.

The bottom line is that I’m frustrated with my body. Before embarking on this walk, I knew it would be a physical challenge, but I was actually far more concerned about the emotional aspect of it.

Throughout my whole adult life, I’ve put my body through many long and extreme mountain treks around the world, which are far more arduous than this. But I’ve never had to deal with pains like the ones I’m dealing with now.

Perhaps it’s just a question of age, but it baffles me. This is just walking, after all! With the lightest backpack I’ve ever had to carry!

OK, that’s enough about my frustrations and physical limitations. Back to the Camino!

The way has been flat for a couple of days already, as we are on the “Masetas” (which is essentially the flatlands), so we will not be encountering hills for another four days… It is well known for its monotony of landscape, which is challenging for the mind, walking a long straight road for 6 or 7 days.

Today, there was a slight incline in the gradient, and I genuinely had a moment of excitement! I let out a whoop of joy to Hartmut, who was chatting to me. We laughed at the idiocy of this!

The albergue we arrived at in Itera de la Vega was covered with bright murals and was attached to a bar with apparent character. It seemed to be the local hangout spot for the young trendies, smoking in the man made arbour with an outside heater, sheltering from the incessant raIn. Inside it was full of local older men, watching the TV.

We lunched with Kyeongwon, a young and entertaining korean man who has been part of our group since the first days. But like many of the others, he didn’t stop overnight and forged ahead.

The albergue itself was unappealing and obscure. A tiny room with 8 bunk beds. Freezing cold, and judging by the kitchen and shower, also lacking in hygienic attention. But there was only Hartmut, Osi and myself, so we tried to consider the luxury of this aspect of the situation.

Hartmut offered to cook for us that night. Not only did he cook, he also went to get the shopping (a big deal when it’s raining and you have to put wet gear on!). I languished in the luxury of my sleeping bag! What a treat! And supper was delicious too…

We all agreed that the bottles of local Burgos red wine that Hartmut had been recommended at the shop, couldn’t be drunk, except perhaps after being treated with heat and sugar! So he ran off to get some Rioja, as a safer bet.
Afterwards, the “mulled wine”, made in a frying pan, was not only heaps better, it also warmed us up!

A nightcap in the adjoining bar proved entertaining. Clearly the football match on TV had brought out all the locals. Meanwhile the lady of the house (who seemed in charge of albergue and bar), seemed totally unfazed when Osi stepped behind the bar to pour us our drinks! These measures were healthy, even by Spanish standards!

One of the men at the bar called her “little red riding hood” and offered her a job! He was actually quite serious, and Osi was part tempted!

Clocks went forward that night. And we decided not to set our usual 6am alarm. Jade and George had sent us a message that they were only 10k behind us, so we were hopeful that they could catch us up!

Imagine our surprise when Osi (who is usually last up) was packing her bag to leave in the middle of the night!
When I asked her the time, she replied “half past eight”. We couldn’t believe it!

But hence, by the time we stopped for our second breakfast in Boadilla del Camino (a truly delightful albergue), we were reunited with Jade and George.

Su-a Lee


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