I had something to prove today. As I hobbled into Los Arcos yesterday familiar pilgrims offered their kind words, concerns, and doubt – AND this was after my hilltop rubdown.
My feet were dying as I struggled with four blisters – and the six days of non-stop walking since I started my Camino in St Jean Pied de Port were really destroying the balls of my feet. My legs were as hard as rocks and every time I sat down, excruciating pain shot through my thighs when I stood up.
I was a mess – which, for someone nearly 60 is nothing to be proud of.
But c’mon, why were all my fellow pilgrims so concerned with me – I mean I had passed Slow Sarah and the Korean gang – surely I wasn’t to be pitied by that many AND that publicly.
Many asked if I was going to take a rest day or cut the next day’s trek in half. “Princess Kate” and Dominick gave me their most concerned looks while reminding me that the next day’s leg was more than 29kms/17miles.
I managed an unconvincing smile and waved them goodbye saying, “we’ll see!”
So when I checked in to my hotel, I took a scalding hot bath for 45minutes! It was glorious. I rubbed my legs and massaged my feet like no one’s business.
This morning, I set out not sure where I would end up.
The Way has brought us deep into wine country. The paths are lined with generations-old vines. The grapes are the most spectacular shade of deep purple, so yes, I grabbed a couple of bunches here and there and gorged on my luscious loot.
The crowds have thinned out and for miles and miles I was alone – just me and my stolen grapes. (Oh right, like you wouldn’t have grabbed some off the vine!)
I put mile after mile behind me as Spain opened up to reveal her true self.
I watched a young shepherd tend to his flock – his whistles and calls to his obedient dogs filled the valley.
I saw a man riding on his white horse way over there on the hilltop surveying his fields (Thank goodness I didn’t take any of his grapes)
Around noon I was hiking up into Viana – a delightful medieval walled town sitting on top of yet another fucking hill.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
What the fucking hell! Had the Basque started another war?
With great trepidation I walked towards the center of town following the shells and yellow arrows that line the roads and guide us pilgrims along our routes. The explosions seemed to be fireworks and as I turned into the plaza I saw why. There was a festival – Viana’s own running of the bulls.
Children , grandparents, parents – all decked out in their traditional red and white colors, climbed up and sat on special wooden fences and in temporary arenas to watch, tease, and cheer on the bulls and those crazy enough to run with them.
This was not in the guidebooks-this was a fantastic discovery of simple, rural life in northern Spain.
I joined the kids and sat on a fence cheering for fellow pilgrim – “Cal from Calgary” – as he joined the locals in their stupid ass run for their lives.
After the bulls had chased the idiots around town, fireworks were set off again and the local brass band paraded thru the poop-filled streets—can’t say if it was bull shit or it was a token of those like Calgary Cal who were thrilled but scared shitless.
The whole experience was brilliant and it was my reward for pressing on, not giving up, and doing what I’ve done since I was 10 months old – putting one foot in front of the next …. and then repeating.
Here are my stats
17.1 Miles Marched Today
(Los Arcos – Logrono * Longest to date!)
101.1 Miles Marched So Far
404.7 Miles Left To March
505.8 Total Miles to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain
Tomorrow: On to Ventosa