It is raining again today. All day. I thought the rain in Spain was mainly on the plain? Not in the hills?
I started out from Palas de Rei in good spirits and my knee worked for quite a long while. I had made sure that I slept with it elevated. I also applied Gail’s blister protection. Yet about 5 miles into the journey it began to hurt again. In fact, now both knees were throbbing, and my shoulders hurt as well. Sucks to get old.
Yet I did not forget my lesson, and I asked for help from the only One who could give it to me. As I descended into a tall cedar forest, I felt a cool breeze and as I began the Jesus prayer again I no longer thought of the pain. I walked in peace through the copse of trees and did not feel alone.
This is the longest and hardest day. 29 kilometers, almost 18 miles, much of it up steep hills. People have told me that this was traditionally the hardest day for newcomers. I can see why. My feet burn, I have a sharp pain in my left knee, and my right knee is throbbing. My shoulders ache, and even my hips now have problems. Other than that, I’m fine! LOL
Yet again, though my face is a rictus of pain, I am in good spirits. I feel that this has been worthwhile. I have met some wonderful, caring people, and I have grown closer to my God. If this is the only price to pay, what of it?
I again felt pain near the end of the hike as we approached our final city of Arzua. As usual, it was the downhill section that hurt the most. I began the Jesus prayer again and a simple prayer I devised of my own incorporating my promises.
I meet two people separated from a large group and take up walking with them for awhile. They walk at a very fast pace. One is Frank from Ireland and the other is Mary, a retired professor from Portland.
A devout Catholic, Frank stops at a roadside church to pray, and Mary tells me he does so regularly. Later, she tells me that there is a large knot on the back of my leg. Alarmed, she squeezes it and asks me if it hurts. She tells me that the varicose veins can create a blood clot. I see nothing that can be done about it and tell her so, though I appreciate her concern. She advises me to either stop, get a wrap, or get a professional to massage it out. I choose none of the above, but I am once again touched by the concern of a woman who is an almost complete stranger to me.
Later, a German couple overtook me and the man asked me good-naturedly if my knee hurt as much as his hip. We laughed, and he introduced himself as a lawyer from Berlin. His wife was an artist, and they had been planning this vacation for years.
We began the final ascent into Arzua together. I have been walking almost 8 hours straight now, and want to rest. The last approach to Arzua is a long steep hill. Stanley the lawyer keeps me occupied enough that I don’t notice it so much.
I check into my Pension (inn) in the city center. Teodora has no elevator so I have the pleasure of walking upstairs with my by now wobbly knees. My room is tiny but clean, and has the bizarre five-foot long pillows I have found all over Galicia. I can clearly hear conversations going on in rooms well down the hallway.
Naturally, the hotel’s restaurant is not open, since it’s only 6:00, so I head to the pizzeria. It isn’t open, either, but the girl does serve me chips, bread, and a couple of blocks of cheese with my wine for $1.20. And, taking pity on me, she does serve me a very bad salami pizza before 7.
Then I head to my room and spend the rest of the night trying to find a sleeping position that is comfortable. I am not successful.