Just. Keep. Walking.

Just the beginning…

Our breakfast at Oasibeth was amazing. The owner, Laurie (it sounded nothing like that when she told us), was intent upon making sure we were “fortified” for our journey today; an objective with which she was quite successful. We lingered as the day’s light came slowly and the rain continued to fall. The day would be our fourth in ponchos.

The day was a slog. We walked out of Oasibeth’s door in Fromista with our ponchos on and through the door of Casa Tia Paula in Carrion de los Condes still wearing them. Though we started pretty upbeat, as the rain, cold, mud, and water rolled-on, it became a drag. Somehow, in spite of our ponchos, much of us was wet underneath. Needing to have our hoods up constantly created a weird sense of isolation – it was harder to see, harder to hear, and the hood never seemed to stay in one place, frequently dropping to cover my eyes or moving off center.

Our first three hours was a grind down a muddy path that started to frustrate me. We spoke little and as the time wore on, my spirits dropped and I felt almost angry – why wasn’t there some stone on this path? I remembered the words of another pilgrim, Tim Musholt, who has reminded me several times to just keep walking. Sally maintained good spirits in spite of shoes that had zero water resistance as I worried about the soggy ness and her blisters. We were able to find a country church, sit on its porch to change our socks, and just get out of the rain. I never realized how oppressive simply being in the rain for so long could be.

The Goretex on my shores had kept my feet pretty dry but Sally’s were drenched in and out. We changed socks and layered hers up to get us through the remaking two hours of our walk. There was a town around the corner but we decided we needed to push on – stopping was making our muscles tight and we just needed to get to our destination. As we were changing our socks, an old man pulled up. He walked onto the porch where we were and just stood there. He motioned at the rain but didn’t say anything. I realized he was checking on us and wanted us off the property. I asked if the iglesia was open which apparently was the invitation he needed as he went on a fairly long speech about it not being a public church and basically that we needed to move on. He wasn’t mean about it – we just weren’t supposed to be here. Buen Camino.

Farther than it looks…

I had removed the lower legs of my zip-off pants and we both had dry socks on as we started off down the road. My tendon had tightened a bit but loosened again as we warmed into our walk. We set our pace and marched on to Carrion de los Condes. Though we were now on a path that ran along the side of a busy road, our spirits rose as we got off of the muddy track along the river. Three kilometers out, we could see our destination. We were worn out mentally and physically when we arrived. However, the rain lightened and we were able to put our hoods down. The village seemed nice but we really didn’t pay any attention. We were done.

We ran a load of laundry in the kitchen of the apartment in which we were staying and walked back into the village to look at a pilgrim outfitter we passed on our way in. Sally tried on some new shoes and decided to buy them. What is that song about new shoes? I smiled as she wore them out of the store with a little pep in her step. Of course they are really cute but also a bit more rugged than her Salomon’s and water resistant. Today is supposed to be rain-free but we expect more as we get into Galicia.

The monastery turned hotel is just past the brightest.

Around the corner from our apartment is a medieval monastery converted into a hotel. We found its bar for pizza (not Pizza King or Pizza Shack caliber but it worked) and beer – necessary comfort food after a cold, wet day in the rain. Rudy, our LA friend, was there sipping on a gin and tonic out of what looked like a fishbowl on a stem – the ice and some kind of fruit in it made it look like a Sangria made with Everclear. He was as high energy as ever and regaled us with stories of his Camino so far. We learned that he is a photographer and that he’s burnt out. He left his drink half finished as he ran off to get a massage.

I could have eaten two pizzas but decided to exercise restraint. We returned to our room and settled-in for the evening by watching Jumanji on my iPad. We laughed out loud at Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and the Rock. It made us think of home.

Today, we’ll walk to a place called Ledigos – 13 miles from here. Though we are not expecting rain, the first 10.5 miles have no towns or services. Our strategy is to grab a big breakfast at the hotel around the corner to fuel us to the first town. Sally will have plenty of time to break-in her new shoes. We are a few days from Leon, the last major city before Santiago. We are starting to feel like we’re making progress.

A few random tidbits:

  • Throughout our walk, we’ve been “offering up” challenges we face, prayers, and other intentions for loved ones back home. Our daily Rosary intention has given us a theme to help us focus. I will not name them here but some of you know who you are and many of you don’t. If something good happens to you today, feel free to credit our prayers 😉
  • I’ve been asked about general health. Sally and I have both slimmed a bit and are at good walking weights. I dropped a belt notch in the first week and may have dropped another but I’m not sure because my belt broke. In spite of the normal aches, we feel really good. Though this post describes a challenging day, our spirits are very high. Much of what makes the Camino the experience it has been are the challenges.
  • We really love messages from home. We have reached the halfway point of our journey and feel so very far from home and the people we love.
  • One of my biggest complaints so far is slow WiFi. If that continues to be the major one, consider me incredibly fortunate!
  • I believe our photo count is well over a thousand. We have been struck by the beauty of Spain and all of the interesting things to see. It is easy to miss some things as we see so much day-in and day-out but we’ve been really intentional about stopping and appreciating the grand and the small along the way. The exception is yesterday – a record low for photos so far 🙂

Showing 4 comments
  • Jonathan Jerden

    The art of storytelling personified. Mark your calendar for Wed. evening Dec. 4th for the next Icemen Gathering. I believe Georgian’s topic is ‘blogging, podcasting, and YouTubing,’ where I can imagine you might have a thing or two to say while entertaining the troops into a frenzy of awe.

    • Phillip Berry

      Thank you Jonathan! I thought of the Icemen as we passed through an area called Atapuerca where archaeologists have uncovered the earliest human remains every discovered in Europe – the analysis points to human activity going back 1.2 million years! I look forward to seeing everyone December 4.

  • Jennifer Dittemore

    Thank you, Phil. I love hearing about the experience. I got a little behind following surgery, but I healed amazingly quick and under 2 weeks am back to work feeling great. I can’t imagine the journey you are on, but your blog gives us a glimpse. Glad to hear your and Sally’s health is good, your spirits are strong and you continue on this amazing adventure.

    • Phillip Berry

      Thank you Jennifer! Welcome back 🙂

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