As this is the last stage of the Camino Frances—the last 100km before Santiago de Compostela—the route is much busier. There’s plenty of food, water and shelter, so long as you book ahead. The route passes through 21 villages from Sarria to Portomarín (21.9km), oak groves and Romanesque building remains. There’s a gorgeous medieval bridge over the Miño River into Portomarín.
What I loved was this bit of trivia: When the Belesear Reservoir was built in the 1960s, the old town of Portomarín was flooded. In order to preserve the ancient structures, they were dissembled, moved stone by stone and reconstructed in the new town.
This is a damn good metaphor—for what, I don’t know yet.
Yesterday, on my non-walk walk, I got sick.
It started on Saturday night around 9 p.m. I was reading There There by Tommy Orange which was fantastic, and I decided to push through and finish the last 50 pages. And then a weird thing happened (weird considering a day with very little physical activity and an hour-long afternoon nap to boot): I got so drowsy so fast that I could hardly lift my head. I couldn’t even turn a page.
Covid, of course, has me on edge. Back in March, it was not possible to cough without worrying if this was it. (As the memes say: Is that you, Rona?) At the time, I memorized the lists of symptoms and performed a sort of mental check each day: no cough, no fever or chills, no body aches, no difficulty breathing, no fatigue, no headache.
Still: blow my nose, worry. Wake up in a sweat (probably due to being a 44yo woman in a blistering not-quite summer); worry.
Saturday, I fell into an early sleep and woke Sunday with a screaming headache. I get maybe one or two headaches a year, at times when my coffee supply has run low or some unspeakable tragedy has prevented me from having coffee. But this headache was different—something pulsing behind my temples, sloshing in my head when I tried to get to my feet. I held onto the walls to get down the hallway; I tried to pretend everything was normal and so washed down ibuprofen with my coffee, wrote about 600 words in two hours (not a good ratio for me), walked the dogs, took my temperature (98.6) and practically crawled back into bed.
Where I slept for another five hours.
It’s Monday now, and this weird day of drowsiness seems to be behind me. I feel if not 100% then a good 85%, but it’s only 6 a.m. and as I’m writing this I’ve had exactly two sips of my first cup of coffee. In other words, I usually feel 85% at this time.
Also, a better sign of recovery: I woke up to see that the house was filthy. The other person who lives with me (he who may or may not be reading this blog) had left various shirts draped over various pieces of furniture—where he was standing, apparently, when he got hot. There was a heap of dishes in the sink, crumbs scattered over the counters and tabletop, a little pile of recycling that hadn’t made it to the bigger pile of recycling in the garage. Noticing that things are out of order and feeling like I have the energy to do something about it is a sure sign of recovery.
So, what was that?
A mini-Covid, mild as it comes? A bad case of allergies? My body telling me I’d earned a day off, whether I wanted it or not?
I really couldn’t say.
At this stage of the journey, pilgrims are tired. There are hundreds of kilometers behind them, but by the time they reach Portomarin, only 80 or so kilometers to go.
In the few races I’ve run, pre-knee injuries, this is the hardest stretch. The initial burst of energy is gone and the final burst, the one that propels a runner across the finish line, isn’t here yet. This is where stamina comes in, willpower, the refusal to give up and sit down and have a good little cry.
This is the stage to honor the body—thank you, Yoga with Adriene—to feel all the little bumps and bruises and blisters and appreciate them for what they mean.
We’ve come this far.
We can make it just a bit farther.
Note to self: you’re not invincible. Injuries can happen when you’re not careful (they can even happen when you are). If your body is telling you something, slow down and listen.
And also: Wear the damn mask.
Paula Treick DeBoard