Walking for Water with Camino Jim-Day 25. A very rough day


Day 25. A very rough day

Up and having coffee with Pat before he heads back to Porto. He will be back on Saturday and walk with me to Santiago starting next Sunday from Sarria. I knew that today would be difficult but I forgot just how hard it would be. I’m on the Camino at 9:00 heading for the Cruz de Ferro, all up hill for three miles. The guide book has it as the highest point on the Camino and as the heat increases it sure feels like it. The walk up to the Cruz is only a fraction of how difficult the climb down is. More than four miles of a very steep hill completely covered in stones of all shapes and sizes most of them lose which increases the risk of turning an ankle. I did not bother to attempt to keep track of the number of near misses I had today but there were quite a few. Pace and focus are really critical. This in my opinion is the third toughest day. The toughest is still yet to come in a couple of days.
At the one mile mark into the stone ramp there are about a dozen pilgrims really struggling to get down the hill. They are sitting on the side of the Camino trying to figure it out. What they don’t know is that the hardest part is another mile away. I pass one couple who are really having a tough time but there is nothing anyone can do for them … they don’t have an option at this point. I passed everyone in front of me and for four hours no one has passed me.
At the bottom of this nasty hill is a small village and as you enter the village there is a patio with tables, chairs and umbrellas. It’s always pretty full because if you make it down the hill you want to sit, drink and eat something. Off with the backpack, I have sweat through everything, completely. I sit at one of the tables and there is a menu on it. A waitress stands over me, remember I have been at this table for about one minute and in an accent that sounds like she is from Brooklyn New York she says “are you going to order anything?” With her tone and attitude I just stand up grab my backpack and said “no” and just walked away. I walk about a hundred yards and go into a little cafe. Inside it’s really nice and I’m greeted by the bartender as I drop everything and sit at a table. He comes to the table with a really cold glass of water and leaves a menu. That’s more like it. I order the local vegetable soup and a small draft beer. The soup is terrific and I end up taking the longest break I have ever taken on any Camino, about 45 minutes. Perfect.
I leave the little cafe and now have about four and a half miles to go before I reach today’s destination, Molinaseca. The final four and a half miles still have lots of rocks but the hill is not as steep. I find my hotel and take care of the usual chores and I am now sitting downstairs having a glass of wine while I write this. I got a text from Margot about dinner. I am meeting them with Don and Candy at seven at Casa Roman. I did see Don and Candy at the Cruze as I was getting ready to get back on the Camino they were just arriving. We chatted, they took my picture and then I moved on.
So now about the Cruz de Ferro. It’s a holy place, spiritual for those who want it to be. People, many people, bring with them something to leave at the Cruze which is symbolic for them. Often it’s a stone with a name on it. It could be someone who has passed away, someone who is struggling with an illness or any type of challenge. I am carrying several items for a number of friends. One is a very small red heart for Sharel and Andrew to leave at the Cruze to ask for a blessing for their wedding which is in a few short weeks. Another is for my sister Sue who passed away 17 years ago. One is for Robin … I’m asking Him to cure her of her terrible migraines. There is also a half of a stone for a friend who may someday come to the Camino and bring the other half with him.
Finally there are a number of items I have placed at the foot of the cross for Dan Daly which were given to me by his family. Dan was a sweet man, a man who truly loved his wife Barb, his daughters Debbie and Dianne as well as his grandchildren. When I walked my first Camino, Dan followed me everyday on my blog and when I came home he and I had a lot of conversations about the Camino. He was always very kind about how much he enjoyed the blog. Often he would talk about someday doing part of the Camino. Unfortunately his health did not allow that to happen and he passed away just before Father’s Day this year.
In addition to the items given to me by Dan’s family I have one other stone with his name on it. I picked it up in St. Jean before I took my first step on this Camino. I will carry it with me to Santiago so that Dan can walk the entire Camino with me. My plan is to take the stone to the Camino office and tell them his story, show them the stone and ask them to issue a Compestella in his name. I’ll give it a shot.
I told Pat about what I was planning and he came up with a great plan B if the Pilgrim office turns me down. We will know in just nine more days. Tomorrow is Day 26 and it is a 19 day. A very large no walk but nothing like today.
I’m going to dinner. It’s been a hard but great day. Good night. Buen Camino.
Miles today: 14.4
Miles to date: 377.6
Steps today: 38,732
Steps to date: 873,236
Flights to date: 660
Donations to do: $34,700.40