everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Days 15 & 16 – the Camino kicks my ass

on September 5, 2013

Apologies for the title, if that kind of thing bothers you. I actually hesitated about whether to write this post at all, especially since most of my Camino experience so far has been super-positive. But, this is my blog and my travel diary – and as incredible as the Camino has been, as much fun as we are having, these past two days have presented my ‘Camino moment’.
I had read of this happening – a true physical and psychological test that pushes a pilgrim to their limits. For some, it’s blisters (which have been affecting Steph from Day 1); for others, it’s knee/ankle pain (which nearly ended Dave’s Camino prematurely). For me, it was freakin’ insect bites.
I can only guess that I was attacked in that free range albergue a couple of nights ago. As we walked on Day 14, I could feel some itchiness and when the day ended and my shoes came off, there were maybe 8 massive bites on my left foot, 5 on my right foot, and around 4 on each of my elbow areas. Itchy and annoying enough to take me to the pharmacy in Fromista with translator Dave, where the nice pharmacist suggested some paint for bites, which smelled a bit like nail polish remover. Painted it on liberally, but by the time it came to head out on Tuesday morning, the bites were looking angry and starting to hurt. Walked another boring, flat stretch of the Meseta, fortunately limited to about 20km due to the gaps between villages. We arrived in the pretty little town of Carrion de los Condes before 12pm and once we were settled in our hostel, my left foot started to swell and redden quite dramatically from the bites.
It was so painful and swollen that I worried it might be infected.
Our lovely friend & translator Dave took me to the medical centre / emergency department in the village, where for 73 euros, a doctor and nurse looked me over super-quickly and spoke in Spanish super-quickly to Dave. I actually started crying at that point – not because I thought I heard them say ‘amputate’ or anything that dramatic, but because I was tired & broken & this was totally out of my control and not at all what I had envisaged for my Camino. And – for someone as independent as me in my normal world – I was completely dependent on Dave as he managed all of the discussions with the doctor. They spoke no English and my extremely limited Spanish clearly does not extend to this type of situation. I felt pathetic – like a small child who couldn’t communicate or understand what was happening. They think it’s mosquito bites & a very severe reaction from my non-European system.
Dave’s kindness in looking after me was unbelievable: ‘that’s what friends are for’, he said. And that’s the intensity of this experience – forging such strong friendships in only two weeks – it really is a unique pressure cooker!
Dave went to get the prescribed treats from the pharmacy and also a big bag of ice – note the brand, so appropriate for this injury! Steph & the gang really looked after me as I had to sit with my feet up under the bag of ice for hours.
No rest for the wicked – mostly due to my snoring neighbours in the big dorm room – and Day 16 was around 27km along the Meseta. The injury plus the heat plus the incredibly boring terrain made this a tough day all round. And, as I suspected, the walk was not kind to my feet. But we’re relaxing at the albergue now.
All of our Camino mates were so caring and considerate as I hobbled past them in the albergue – Maria the Hungarian who went to school at Cremorne High in Sydney, who we met on the first crazy day out of St Jean, has her own tummy troubles but was more concerned for me; Kieran & Mary from Ireland think Kieran has cellulitis in his leg (well, that OR an insect bite OR tendinitis, the doctor helpfully deduced), but wanted to talk only about how I am going. Lovely Bev from Queensland helped me with an ice foot bath & bandage with potato skins to draw out the poison or something. Lots of starers in the common area as they observed the weirdo with the giant foot. Steph & Susana have been so great at looking after me – it’s no fun being a sad hobbling patient, but I’m so lucky to be part of this incredible community of friends and other wounded warriors heading for Santiago.
Anyways, waa waa waa – I didn’t want this to be a whingey post to get sympathy, but it is what’s happening on the Camino for me right now! Hopefully I’ll be much improved tomorrow, with a heightened appreciation for the fantastic people around me, my usual good health, and a bit to think about re my life in the real world too maybe… And today marks the halfway point of our adventure – we’re all justifiably proud!

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7 responses to “Days 15 & 16 – the Camino kicks my ass

  1. Mandy says:

    I so hope you are on the improve and great to hear about the support you are getting from the other crazy people. You know, I thought about you for much of yesterday as we climbed up a volcano, it was tough, seven hours straight up and down slippery rocks, but I thought if you and the fact that you are walking for hours on hours everyday and it did make me push on a bit harder. Kia kaha (Stay strong) my friend 🙂

  2. Bobbie Surber - My Camino de Santiago says:

    The hard days of the camino can be brutal. IT seems you have kept a good sense of humor and have great fellow pilgrims at your side. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to hear of your pain and suffering but thrilled to hear of the camino comradeship and caring of your fellow pilgrims .we. Are proud of your coping with such a formidable challenge and hope and pray that the crisis passes quickly and you are restored to good health .love ya mom and dad

  4. Ross says:

    Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

    Press on Cath.

  5. Oh Sparks – Sending you all my good vibes to assist you in getting better and pushing through. Big shout out to lovely Dave and all your Camino buddies.

    Sometimes the message is not an obvious one. Sometimes the most independent need to learn to accept help… Maybe?

  6. dooey says:

    wow Cate,what a journey.Saw the foot seems really swollen and i can only imagine very painful>rest would be good along with ice God bless Dave Steph and The Gang We are walking every step of the way with you God bless

  7. Noela K says:

    Wow! What stamina! So glad you have such a lovely group of friends to take care of you as you regain your fitness rating! It no doubt is disappointing but certainly adds drama and the unexpected to an already challenging, though charming experience. Hope you feel much better soon and the rest of the trip has more pleasant surprises. Love and Peace

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