Saturday, June 23, 2007


Whenever I got sad about losing people on the Camino because I had falled a day or two behind, Iain would point west and say "There´s injuries up there." in an ominous voice that promised me I would find them again.

Here´s the thing with the injuries, the blisters. Just because you´ve walked 752K doesn´t mean you´ll get to 760K without hurting yourself.

In the final days of the Camino, I encountered many people who had been walking as long as I have who had recently hurt themselves. New blisters. And lots and lots of tendonitis (who the hell calls it tendonitis? worse in spanish--tendohneeeeetisssss. if you call it that, it´s just going to hurt more. pulled muscle, people. pulled muscle.) I started to get scared that I was going to go down, too.

I walked my last day with a Mexican girl named Josefina who had just graduated with a Master´s from Georgetown. At the beginning of the day, as we set out in the dark, I turned to her and said, "Let´s make a deal. I won´t break my ankle today, and you won´t break yours." She agreed.

All day long, we kept seeing a pair of German guys who had walked from France. We would sit down with them at a bar for a 10-15 minute rest before carrying on with our long day. The younger one admitted that he thought they would lose us, that we would be slow. He said, "You are good walkers." Now, when a German says that you are a good walker, you don´t forget it. You repeat it, savor it, carve it into your memory.

We ran into each other at the last bar before Santiago. They said they would wait for us and take our pictures, so we were surprised to see them sitting down on a bench across a road a few minutes later.

The younger one had turned his ankle. He had been walking for 5 weeks, and then, one day, the last day, he walked wrong on a stone and turned his ankle and something snapped and he was looking for a taxi. A TAXI! He might as well have told us he was considering becoming a disciple of Darth Vader. You just cannot understand. If it had been 3K, I might have agreed to help to carry him, though he´s a big lad.

Despite his pain (proven by his remarkable command of English profanity as he limped) and his disappointment, he was smiling and good-spirited. I was so impressed with his optimism. We put him in a cab and waved goodbye.

The next couple of K were rough for me as I tried to place each foot down gently. I finally decided, though, that I hadn´t had any gentle footsteps for the rest of the walk, so I may as well just keep on as I had been doing.

The next day, I was happy to see him walking around with his Compostela in hand. The doctors had fixed him up, and he went a few K out of the city to limp on in.

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