That morning in Uterga, Spain I got up while it was still extremely dark outside. It was April 26, 2017. I had been walking for five days but I had a HUGE blister on my foot, It was taking over a tender spot on the bottom of my foot. This is why I stopped before a number of my new friends, I had to take care of my feet. Chuck from Colorado had been raving about this restaurant/albergue and promised to help me assess and care for the blister that had arrived after climbing down rocks from the Alto Perdon. I was worried I would have to stop for a day. I fretted about it all evening and texted my dad. What was I going to do? If I stayed for an extra day in this place, I would not be with my group of people and there was absolutely nothing to do in Uterga.
So I got up all the earlier the next morning because I was going to be moving slowly and painfully on this foot and I needed the extra time. I promised to meet everyone at Albergue La Casa Magica later that day in Villatuerte, an albergue that promised food soaks. But it would take me all day to get there at my rate.
I started out and by the time I got to the next town, Obanos, my new friends Roxanne and Allain were waving from the doorway. They would be leaving in a bit and would catch up to me! I kept chugging along and watching the sun come up in magical ways. It would be ok. I would need to learn about all of this. These were good and necessary lessons.
I hobbled along and Roxanne and Allain caught up. Cousins who began their journey in Pamplona, I met them just outside of Pamplona and we chatted a bit. But this particular day, the next day, we spent all day together. They stayed with me all day long. They could have jetted ahead but they were new to the trail and wearing in their feet as well. We talked deeply. We asked questions. We spent periods of time in silence to watch the world around us. I am so grateful for that day as I look back on it. What I thought would be a horrendous day was one that was gentle and full of love. It was a gorgeous day and if I had sped by I would have missed the colors, the sights, the sounds, the smells. The slowness of that day allowed me to take it all in and get to know my new friends.
I remember Roxanne asking just the right questions as I started to heal. I remember the patience of the day. I remember stopping for coffee and taking a selfie to remember.
I remember looking ahead at the trail and loving the view and breathing deeply. I remember the pain of my foot. Yesterday when I talked with my parents and mentioned that I keep dreaming of returning as I turn 40 this year, my mom said, “but don’t you remember your feet? did you forget the pain?” But I don’t! It was part of the journey and taught me to be more in tune with my body. I had to care for my feet like they were my most precious asset. I tended to them each morning and each evening. I knew every part of my body and where it hurt each day. I remember.
When we arrived to La Casa Magica we arrived to cheers from our pilgrim friends that made it before us. They were sitting outside at a table sipping beer and just waiting for us.
We went in, got showered and then Roxane and I soaked our feet. It was glorious. It started raining but we were under the cover and soaking.
We talk about that moment every once in a while, even now, that soak. It solidified pilgrim life for her and for me it was the extra care that I so wondered at on the Camino. I was so amazed by the community forming around me, the community that we created and the assumption we made to help everyone make it to our goals.
I won’t forget the journey or my feet. We shall see what the Camino brings next.