These boots were made for walking... but these ankles sure weren´t
Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de Los Condes (26.5km)
The day began well after a brilliant feed with good company last night i had good energy and began to walk a reasonable pasce. Unfortuantly during the storm yesterday i had sprained my ankle (kids do not try this at home: walking backwards in a hail storm along a muddy track). So where i should have walked slowly i had gone to fast and by the 15km mark i was about to pass out with pain. I took strength by walking with Jesus...no not the man on the cross, a 60yr old spaniard who wanted to walk with me and share lunch. The last 5km of the hike were particularly agonising, i was literally shuffling. I learnt today that i need to listen to my body, i could have stopped in Villalcazer and rested the afternoon but noooo i had to get to my goal destination. That said though Carrion de Los Condes is a town well worth staying in (for pilgrims that is, not so much for tourists). I stayed in a convent run by nuns (and yes mum, i behaved...relatively).
We all attended la misa (mass) at 8. I´ve never found a Catholic church service emotional, i find it has too much formality and generally rather sombre, but this one was different. The nuns had made us little stars for us to take on our journey to Santiago and we were all then individually blessed by the priest. He then asked us where we were all from, there was at least 30 different nationalities, truly amazing (i was the only Aussie).
Back at the convent post mass and my German friend Stefano was in the courtyard with a group of about 6 Italian men. I was instantly invited over and handed a glass of wine (in a plastic cup, classy Italians). All afternoon these men had laughed at me hiking up and down the stairs obviously in pain and every time they had also offered assistance or asked me if i was OK. Now they offered me wine to ease the pain. Hilarious blokes...the poor nun who was going about her own business and having to put up with rouwdy pilgrims and swearing Italians.
Carrion de Los Condes to Leon (....)
When i awoke in the morning, my ankle was the size of a football. I can hike, i said to myself. Then i put my foot on the floor. I can hike, i said. I packed my backpack, I squeezed my foot into my boots and i said goodbye to the German ladies i was sharing a room with and i headed for the stairs. I can hike, i said. I descended one step....i can´t hike, i said.
One of the German ladies had injured her knee and had been hopping for a few days. I knew she planned to catch a bus today to go ahead a few kilometres and have her friends catch up in a few days so she could rest. So i asked her how she brought her bus ticket and that night i was in Leon.
It was an incredibly hard decision to make. I always wanted to hike the entire route. For pilgrims in the past, the destination was always Santiago. The purpose being to gain a blessing from Saint James. For me, the physical destination is Santiago but the journey has always been more important. So if i need to catch a bus because im injured then that is simply part of my journey. I chose Leon because i would be close to medical support if i needed it and it saved my 70km of hiking along the N120 (not the most fascinating part of the hike).
The problem with choosing a big city to rest in is that all you want to do is explore! I also thought i wouldnt know anyone as i jumped quite a few days ahead, so as i was walking to find a post office i was rather surprised to hear my name called out from across the street. I turned around to find Martina! I had met Martina (from Austria) about a week ago and we had hiked together for awhile. We decided to check out a wine festival near my hotel...it was free...and was very well enjoyed until Martina had to run to catch her bus on time! I then had dinner with Richard, a fellow Perthite i had met on the bus and went to bed well exhausted...good rest day :)
(I never did find that post office!)