Arzua to Pedrouzo, 19 km
So, I have finally broken down and sent my pack on today, as all of the hills in the area have been wreaking havoc with my ankles. While they don't hurt that badly, they are swollen, so it just seemed prudent to remove most of the weight of a pack in order to make it easier, especially since I will be doing around 19 km today. I decided to go a little further today so that I never have a 20 km day...it means only 16 km tomorrow, and I will probably send my pack on then as well.
However, I will definitely carry my pack the last 5 km on Thursday into Santiago. I hate not carrying my own pack, but Ice is sometimes hard to find. Honestly, I wouldn't have made it today if it weren't for the fact that I wasn't carrying my pack. My ankles were hurting at the 10 km mark, and by the last 5 km, I was limping pretty badly. If it weren't for the fact that I'm gimping along like a hundred year old granny, I would seriously consider just toughing it out and getting to Santiago tomorrow. However, if my ankles hurt this bad without my pack, there is no chance that I would make it these last 21 km in one stage. I think the real issue is the hills, since they are giving my tendons a workout--I'm not really gaining or losing any altitude, but towns tend to be in valleys, and the hills are in between. It makes for some pretty scenery, but not great on already swollen tendons.
I am also finding that I am taking less pictures as I go along. Some of it is that there are really only so many picturesque views of nature that one can be interested in. I think it is also that I am beginning to really focus on getting to Santiago.
One of the most common sayings/graffiti that one sees on the Camino is the phrase, "the path is the goal." ( and in just about every language, too!). When I first started my Camino, I could at least see some truth in the phrase, as my greatest worry was where my next yellow arrow would be, not how far I am from Santiago. It was enough to be on the road, on the Camino, and headed to Santiago. Now, As I get closer to Santiago, I find that I'm not so sure this is absolutely true any more. Even though we often get caught up in the path God has for us from day to day, we really should keep our eye on the destination. If we don't, we could end up lost or worse, on an entirely different path altogether--one of my favorite stories by another pilgrim is of her following ANY arrows she found (blue, black, green... it didn't matter.), and in the process, she ended up having to walk through someone's vinyard to get back on track. I also read a sign today reminding us pilgrims that we should be following the yellow arrows, not other markings in yellow, as they might be pointing to a local bike path, not the Camino.
One of my fellow pilgrims said that walking the Camino was basically life writ small, and I think I replied that life shouldn't be full of tendonitis, blisters, and bedbugs! All kidding aside, I can see how the lessons learned as I am walking could be applied to every part of my life, even if some lessons are unique to the Camino, like remembering to wash everything early enough that it dries by the next morning. And, I have to say that I learned from each of the above situations: learn from people who have gone before (blisters and bedbugs); problems are rarely insurmountable--cry a little, regroup, gather strength from your friends, and change our plans accordingly (tendonitis); prevention is always easier than dealing with consequences (blisters and tendonitis). There are others, but I won't bore you.
So, I am now only 21 km away from Santiago, and I will have one more night on the trail after tonight. The km markers say that we are only about 18 km away, so they are about 3 km off. I am hoping that they get more accurate the closer we get to Santiago, but I'm not holding my breath. Even so, I couldn't resist taking this picture:
I am blessed to be here, and blessed that all of you have been praying for me as I continue my journey. I know that arriving in Santiago doesn't really make me no longer a pilgrim, but puts me in the category of "pilgrim of life's journey." So, in that respect, whoever coined the phrase is right, the path IS the destination. And, that is at least part of the reason that I chose the name of Perpetual Peregrino for this blog. Heading toward the end game is incredibly bittersweet, but I am trying to cherish every moment.