Camino Diary Entry #39

660#39 Azure to A Rua 19kms
Along the way there are concrete markers. We noticed them way back at the start of our journey, but the place names meant nothing and the digits on them were so big and so many that they boggled our brains and scared our feet.
Today it is different! Suddenly we have passed the 100 km marker and now they are just double digits!
Digits of 40 and getting smaller! We can almost feel the end and early in the day we are sure we could cut it all today and be done! 15 kms later and we realize that thought was yet another moment of madness!We have reconnected with recent new best friends, Catherine (28 year old nurse from Sydney and Frances (early 60’s, 3 rd generation Japanese from California). They have buddied up along the way. Their story is the same. Just want to get there! Everyone we meet is down to their last plaster, used every joint support bandage they brought, eaten nearly every nurofen, voltaren, Tylenol and panadol. Catherine has had majors with her feet since commencing at Astorga and got so desperate she has also eaten all the cold tablets she brought because they had some codeine in them!625
At one point she called her parents and talking of her badly blistered feet her Dad said ” put some meths on them” . In the background she heard her mother admonish him by saying ” daon’t teall her thaaeet, sheeze too far gorne for meths!”
Today Catherine has seen a Physio, taxied to her next stop and plans to limp the last 10 kms into Santiago tomorrow on a damaged ligament in her ankle! No wonder Gwyneth still refuses a staircase where she can – you know what stairs can do to your knees!
The scene leaving Azure was new again! This time front and back of us was a sea of dreary green, grey and blue rain capes! We were the standout pilgrims, being from Christchurch our wet weather gear is fluro orange!
The rain came down in a steady, saturating fashion. As a last minute thought we grabbed our umbrellas from the outer pockets of our suitcases and perhaps a little smugly, joined the throngs ‘back on the road again……..’
696Not an unpleasant walk today. A mere 19 kms and as yesterday, through forests of eucalyptus and cabbage trees (in Spain? Yes!) Lovely to smell the gums and actually quite nice to be seeing blooming hydrangeas and fuchsia plants!
The rain eased after the first hour and from then on it was a mental argument to leave the jackets on or off as the sun popped out then the clouds regrouped!
There were as usual a number of cafe/ bars along the way. Busier than in earlier days now we have all the ‘last 100 km’ walkers.622 What hasn’t changed is the red plastic chairs about the tables are still filled with shoeless walkers studying their feet intently and rubbing in an assortment of potions before rebandaging. Not a pretty sight, but there but for the grace of God….!!!(and Stop Blisters Wool-it!)
640I’ve started to recognize the odd pilgrim by spotting pairs of familiar calves! Quite sad really, but that is the most you get to look at generally. They come in all shapes and sizes and a variety of shades of pale celery through to lobster. Some are fairly knotty, some just fat, there are more varicosed veins than you can poke a stick at and none of them particularly attractive!
As we approached an underpass we were greeted by the upbeat sounds of a brass band. The sun was shining as we emerged, up a path and into the midst of 150 people trying to cram into a minute church at Sante Irene for the festival of St Pedro. The band were following a parade around behind the church which was led by teams of four carrying an assortment of religious statues. They all seemed to have more than just a bit of trouble sliding out the carrying ‘bearers’ in the rapidly growing congestion of local attendees and pilgrims coming up the narrow path along with the cyclists of course! It was touch and go for a few of the meter high figures, one swinging perilously close to upside down with a tricky halo and then to add to the excitement the local bird scarer guns thundered out over the band and there was a lot of jumping and jitteriness to contend with as well!
Word on the trail is that on ‘making Santiago’ it will make you cry regardless of your reason for coming here.
I have a theory that for those who started out on this to help them deal with some drama in their lives, by this stage they are so desperate to get finished that anything else in their life will have well and truly paled into insignificance. As wine drinkers we have even ceased to be concerned about anything much more than 1 glass – what is happening here?
For us, we don’t anticipate shedding tears unless it is out of pure relief that we will soon be basking on a beach in Sitges, that we don’t have to walk anywhere we don’t want to, will never again have to don those stupid hats and that wearing toe socks can be banished from our lives forever!
704Reading the forums however, it would seem the actual arrival is just an anticlimax thrown into a bun fight!So watch this space! We are intrigued ourselves about this!
We even got here to A Rua today in time to dine for lunch!
Our most preferred and standard fare is to select the mixed salad. It is a reliable plateful of roughly chopped up local lettuce, 1 anaemic spear of asparagus, inevitably a helping of tinned tuna and the real suprise comes in the addition (or not) of half an egg, maybe some olives, occasionally tomato slices which are largely green. Today’s excitement, some kiwi fruit, raw onions and watermelon! You can rely on it being well doused in salt and oil and vinegar!
At least it is a chance to eat some veges – everything else seems to be ‘you will have fries with that!’
Apart from the freshness of the salad, it is our token gesture towards thinking about our waistlines. It is outrageous that we can walk over 500 kms and not lose weight! We never stood a chance! There is bread at every meal – sometimes that is the meal! Then there is the ham and cheese of which Gwyneth is not fond so I have to eat hers! The croissants, the cakes… And that’s to say nothing of dining very late, going to bed on a full tummy and getting up for breakfast!!

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