October 7, – 20km
El Albergue de Carmen is a private pilgrim shelter where we´re staying tonight, a delightful hostel in a 100 year old house, presided over by a lovely couple: the lady (not Carmen) who keeps an impeccably clean house and her hilarious slap on the back, crinkled up smily face, Jose Antonio. Each room has a different tile pattern on the floor and moulded white ceilings, and our room at the front of the house has a window onto the street and light pouring in and bouncing off the white walls.
We´ve just opened the blistery surgery for Frank who has a nasty one on the tip of his 4th toe and an ill-defined very painful spot on toe thumb of other foot. We are speculating as to whether it´s a blister lying under a callous, which is what I reckon, but others think differently and are offering a variety of solutions. So is the way of the pilgrim. Antonio, one of the seven professional pilgrims from Alicante, is sporting his teeshirt saying ´no pain, no glory´ and a caricatured pair of pilgrim feet, and has a full pharmacy with him in his tiny backpack, however, we decide his recommendations are more for blister prevention rather than the full scale intervention that seems necessary now. Jacques has come alive from the afternoon siesta and is disinfecting a needle and asking Frank what colour thread he wants, Letitzia is getting Betadine and sterile swabs, and the lady of the house is making her tried and true pilgrim foot bath which has vinegar and salt in it. I am documenting proceedings and making the slightly nervous-looking Frank, laugh. Actually there´s lots of laughter. This is an initation on the Camino and it turns out Frank has never lanced a blister, so we´re all enjoying the spectacle. With size 47 feet (13 in mens) every seat has a good view.
The verdict was one success and one failure. The deep under-callous blister (still my verdict) couldn´t be reached. But on we march! The footsore, the weary and the fleet-footed all together.
This morning´s walk was seriously lovely through more vineyards, olive groves and plum and almond orchards: all the shades of green and gold shining in the gentle light before dawn and blazing with glory once the sun came up. After eight days walking I´m getting my camino body, as they say, and feeling strong and well. My feet are fine and my bag is getting lighter as I eat all this wonderful (grrr, heavy!) food I´m carrying. (Yeah, so I have all these raw superfood poweders and goji berries and linseeds and cacao beans because I´m trying to eat as raw as possible otherwise: fruits and salads… though sometimes the joy of cheese and wine and a bit of that yummy bread overtakes me!).
I walked with Frank for the last three quarters of an hour or so into Villafranca and it was really enjoyable walking together and sharing how the previous afternoon and evening had gone, since he was one of the four pilgrims who got shut out of the albergue in Zafra. He´d had to go onto one an hour further on which was not so nice. It´s funny though, how the not-so-nice albergues make the pleasant ones shine out in loveliness and the really nice ones feel like five star hotels.
Letitzia, Jacques and I made it to Sunday evening mass in the local church, and I didn´t really connect to most of it, but would sit through anything to get to the ´kiss of peace´ or the ´peace be with you… and also with you´ part, where you get to greet the people around you and wish them peace. With my pilgrim friends who I have been with this last week and more, it is a very lovely and special moment.
La paz sea con vosotros. Peace be with you!