Day 23 León again

We went to a museum, ate a lot of food.  Drank a bunch.  I ran into two pilgrims that I knew.  It was a rest day.

We are back at the hotel watching Big Bang theory drinking Mahou.

Tomorrow we walk again.

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Day 22 León 

We taken a train to León.  6 Euros and 32 minutes later, we are here in a splendid hotel watching the Simpsons and drinking San Miguel.  And tomorrow we’ll have a relaxing day, soaking in the sights of León. 

It’s actually really beautiful here.  We went shopping.  We got friendship bracelets.  We ate at the one Asian restaurant they have here, which I would’ve done with or without my Korean companion.  

My Camino has taken a different turn.  It’s not just about the walk anymore.  How is it possible to bond with someone so quickly?  And we have absolutely nothing in common!  She doesn’t want me going anywhere without her, even to the store for beer.  She has to come.

She’s just so freaking kind.  She gave me her socks because I kept complaining about my own. I mean, who does that?  Her socks!  She’d give me anything if I’d ask for it.  Americans don’t do that shit.  It’s unbelievable the kindness of Koreans but I don’t want to lump her into a group.  

We just talked.

She wants to open a Korean restaurant in the US.  We are now joined at the hip.  Plans are brewing.  We go to sleep now.

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Day 21

We took a wrong turn. It was super late, the sun went down and we ended up stranded at an albergue that had no hot water.  I said we should go on ahead to the next town via taxi (because we were lost) but once we got there, there was no place open.

We back-tracked to the last town we visited.  We lost two days.  But we got to play pool and darts, both of which I kicked her ass in.

I’m so tired.  My plan tomorrow is to take a taxi to Moreno (I think that’s the name) and then walk to León.  We’re renting a room for 2 nights in León so it’ll be a nice time.  Hana said she wants to cook steak for me and we’ll rent an apartment.

That was my day today.  A long boring walk and then chaos for a little bit but then a solid plan for tomorrow.

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Day 20

I’m drunk on the Camino.  What else is new. 

Today we walked 37.5 kilometers no problem.  

We lost our packs at one point, long story, but the man from the last albergue drove the 37 kilometers to give them back.  It was a Camino miracle.  We bought him a beer.  I guess it pays being nice to everyone you meet.  You never know.

My budget is pretty much shot so I’m using business money.  Thank god it’s doing well.

I didn’t bring any credit cards, it’s all debit.  A bit scary.

I introduced my German friend to Hana and they’re talking in the albergue together.  I’m outside and really have to pee.

Okay, we went into our room and realized it was a shared room with 8 other pilgrims. It makes no sense because it’s cheaper for us to get a private room and we were makin so much noise, we were drunk and it was late so Hana arranged for a private room last minute.  She is showering now and didn’t care in the least bit that she was fully naked and I peed in front of her.

I’m vaping my ecig in our room while she finishes showering.  I absolutely adore this girl.  I told her to just go in my back pack and I’ll take her home with me.

I DO NOT want to let her go.  Today she told me that both her parents died, her uncle in America is dead.  She doesn’t talk to her family because they are all about money and the more money they make, the more they change.  She doesn’t want that to happen to her.  She doesn’t post on Facebook because she doesn’t want her friends to know what she’s doing.  

I don’t know, it’s just sad.  I’ll miss her terribly.  She told my German friend that she thought I was her guardian angel and she’s scared I’m going to disappear.  Maybe that’s why she walks behind me?  To keep watch.

It’s crazy because I felt the same way only I like to stay ahead of her so I don’t lose her.  I’m afraid she’ll keep going without me.

I accomplished my goal of not taking anything seriously.  Hana and I don’t take the Camino seriously in the least bit.  We slept until 10:30 today, not caring if the hostel kicked us out or not.  Which they didn’t.  They forgot we were there in the private room.

We stop at every village for cervesa.  We like walking at night.

This is a long boring walk.  All farm fields with no shade.  It’s really hard with the sun crisping my face.  Hana gave me her sunblock and makes sure I put it on.

I want to walk in the woods.

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Day 19

We didn’t walk far at all today.  Both of us weren’t  feeling it.  Last night we had a choice to either stay at a shitty albergue or pay $20 extra for a hotel.  We splurged on a hotel and slept until 9:30.

Tomorrow we’re walking 40 kilometers and sending our packs ahead.

We’re at a hippie albergue right now with teepees and tiny houses to sleep in.  We played ping pong and drank beer, we’ll smoke a little pot later.  It’s nice.  Hanna couldn’t stop laughing hysterically while playing ping pong.  She cracks me up.  What was so funny?  I have no idea.

The albergue is playing American hip hop.

Damn what a life.  I mean really.  How freaking cool is this?  It’s fucking cool is what it is. 

It’s going to be cold tonight though.  

And I lost my appetite.  I’m not eating as much as I usually do.  I don’t get it.  Wouldn’t I be famished?  Like all the time?

I called my folks today.  God I miss them so much.  Calling them makes me miss them more.  

Last time I walked this path, I missed my dog.  That was it.  But this time around I’m seriously homesick.  Even with Hanna here, I still miss everyone back home.

I’m not sure what changed.  

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Day 18 Fromista

We’re taking a break on a bench in the Provincial de Palencia.  

I don’t have as much free time to write as I did before now that Hanna is here with me.  

Last night we stayed at a Korean albergue and ate bimimbop for dinner.  Hanna felt like she was home.  The Koreans really take care of their own so I feel a bit privileged that I’m part of it.

We’re now at Fromista.  We walked over 26 kilometers.  It’s weird that in the morning, I’m in more pain and dread than I am after walking all day.  I feel great right now and can keep walking whereas this morning I was miserable.  How does that make sense?  

I’m sad that it’s already day 16 in the book.  There are only 33 days in all.  It’s always the second half when I start having fun.  I’ll be especially sad when I reach Santiago.

Just 3 days ago I wanted it to be over.  I was buckled over in pain.  Through the heat, the cold, the wind, the downhill shin splints.  And saying “fuck fuck fuck” everytime I had to pee when there was no place to go.

Okay, I still say “fuck fuck fuck”.  So does Hanna.

I don’t mind the 6-8 hour walk anymore.  I guess it takes two weeks to settle in.  You can settle into ANYTHING after 2 weeks.  Like accepting a new reality.  A new way of life.  Your body adapts.  Your mind adapts.  

Maybe it depends on your comfort level.  The more comfort you require to feel confident and strong, the more weeks you’ll need to adapt.

My 4 year hiatus from all things physically strenuous has made me soft.  My body pleaded for more and more comfort.  I wanted to be around the same people, the same places, to eat the same food at the same restaurants.  I required lots of sleep.  Lots of food.

I hated that about me.  I knew the only way to break the cycle was to make myself miserable again by walking the Camino.

I think people intuitively know this.  That’s the only rational reason to walk this thing.  To break the cycle.  But they don’t know how to verbalize it so they say, “I’m looking for a change.”  They want to toughen up.

Almost everybody here walking, quit their jobs.  Like 70% of them.  The other 30% are retired.  A very few percentage are business owners like me mucking about.  Rich people don’t do this shit.  Not when they can afford taxis and hotels.

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Day 17 where the hell am I?

Whelp, I met a new best friend.  The Korean girl, Hanna.  We’re walking together and planning to stop at the same places along the way.  We’re even getting private rooms without bunk beds and shared toilets and loud snores.

I actually thought to myself, “I wish I had a travel buddy if only to share the expense of private rooms together and washing our clothes.”  And bam, it happened.  She made both things happen.

I don’t know where I am today.  Castro Jarez or something.

Tomorrow is already day 18 and the Camino is starting to get easy and fun.

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Day 16 Hornillos 

I totally taken a taxi here.  I did NOT want to tamp through the streets of Burgos on hard pavement with my already dilapidated feet only to transition into the boring wastelands of oat and barley fields.  

Today would’ve sucked.  Taking a taxi was an eye opener.  I would’ve had to walk so far!  And none of it was very pretty.  We drove past a yellow arrow, one of thousands that mark the way and I was like, “fuck that”.

I’m in yet another private room.  I’m at The Meeting Point in Hornillos, the only place I found on Booking.com.  

When you take a taxi to your next destination ($30 euros gets you about 15 miles), you’ll have to get a private room since you’ll get here so early you’ll want to nap in private.

I have a really good audiobook to listen to.  Today equates to a day off back at home, never changing out of my pajamas and playing video games all day.

Only here, I had to wake up at 9:30, check out of the hostel and take a taxi to Hornillos and eat lunch at a bar until my albergue opened up so I can check in.

My budget is obliterated.  I had a personal pizza, cafe con leche and a large cervesa for lunch and while checking in here I added yet another large cervesa to my bill.

Not to mention the tab for the two private rooms yesterday and today about $90 USD, plus $30 euros for a taxi.  Shit adds up fast when living in luxury.

But I’m happy for the taxi.  It was easy getting one in Burgos.  The taxi stand was a mere 30 second walk out of my hostel.  But here, in the middle of nowhere, no taxis.

Last night before arriving to my hostel, I stopped in a supermarkado and bought a can of beans and a plum for dinner.  I fell asleep peacefully listening to my audiobook.  I slept for many, many hours.  Only waking up to pee.

My feet look swollen and bloated, with weird bumps I never noticed before.  I’m hoping they’ll be back to normal by the start of tomorrow, when my sabbatical ends.

I feel like I cheated the Camino but I walked 15 miles only yesterday.  It feels like much longer ago than that.

I haven’t washed my clothes yesterday and I’m not planning to wash them today.  I figure my deodorant, Mitchum, takes care of the stink as it wears off into the armpits of my shirt.

As for my socks and underwear goes…they passed the stink test.  A sniff and a shrug of the shoulders.  A quick shrug means “pass”, however, if the shoulders stay raised longer than necessary, the stink test failed.  

Seriously though, Mitchum deodorant has no comparison, nothing beats it.  Sure it might cause breast cancer, but I don’t have to wash my shirt so it’s a bit of a toss-up.

It’s 2:28pm.  My room has a lot of natural sunlight but here in Spain they have these blinds that completely block out all light.  They’re high-tech, even the poorest hostels have them.  I can’t find them anywhere in the states, but they are wonderful!  Some of them are metal but most are made from durable heavy plastic.  I need them for my massage rooms back home.

I think it has to do with the sun setting so late in the summer.  ECOVEN PLUS.  That’s the name of the brand.  I want to close them but I’m afraid it will get cold in my room.  Like when you’re stuck on the runway inside a plane, if you close the window shades, the cabin cools down.  I wish everyone knew this as it can get freaking hot in there.  And then I go into my weird panic mode of being inside a hot confined place.

Okay well, I suppose I should enjoy the rest of my audiobook.  It’s getting really good towards the end.  Michael J. Sullivan is the author.  I highly recommend him if you like fantasy novels.  I like it better than Game of Thrones.

Dinner is at 7 and since there’s no tienda in this little village of 60 inhabitants, I’m stuck having to join everyone for the pilgrims dinner.  $9.50 Euros.

It’s now 10:43pm.  Way way past my bedtime.  I was planning on eating and then quietly returning to my room to resume my non social nature.

But then I met Hanna.  A Korean girl who spoke perfect English.  After 2 bottles of wine I decided I’m moving to Belgium to write my book and help her with her B&B.

She’s absolutely lovely.  We ate dinner with Steven, a very soft spoken German man.  When we ran out of wine, we went to the albergue next door and bought another bottle.  Hanna was scared of not having a cork screw but I was thinking “one problem at a time”. We found a girl who had a cork screw in her multi-knife tool and me being the boozer that I am, knew how to work it.

Anyway, both of us aren’t enjoying the walk.

Me- “There’s so many Koreans here.  You have a lot of people to talk to.”

Her- “It’s kind of annoying.  They’re loud.  They wake me up in the morning telling me to get up.”

Anyway, it sucks meeting people you love immediately only to have to say goodbye to them at some point.  I have trouble with it.  More trouble than anyone.

But it’s weird, I’m so antisocial, I enjoy my alone time immensely, but I still don’t want to let go of people.  I want them in my life always.  If I don’t talk to anyone, I won’t miss or need anyone.  And I’ll be perfectly happy.

I’d rather keep to myself. That’s always my goal when I travel but that’s never the case. People slip through my defenses.  How do they do that?  Stupid Hanna.  Stupid Camino.

I’m going to go to sleep.  Tomorrow will suck.  It’s late, I’m full of wine, and I have to resume a long tedious walk that never ends.

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Day 15 Burgos 

I slept for about 9 hours last night.  I’m sitting on a bench in Anapuerca headed to Burgos.

I splurged on a private room in Burgos which I already booked on booking.com.  $47 American dollars, the cheapest I can find on the path.

Everyone is getting a private room tonight.  The sooner I get there, the sooner I can enjoy it.

My new friend, purple hair girl, goes home today.  I’m sad because she’s wicked cool.  Many people go home when they reach Burgos.  She doesn’t want to leave and I’m jealous she gets to leave.

I had trouble getting up today.  Everyday I have trouble but today I felt lightheaded.

I don’t want to get off this bench.

I have my audiobook to listen to.  It’s actually really good and I’m only on book 1.  This guy wrote a whole bunch of them so I have that to help me get through the slog.  

I better start walking.  In 5km I can stop again for a coffee and sandwich.  About 2 hours from now.  Maybe I’ll write more when I get there.  Writing really helps me.  

I’m here at the cafe.  I feel much better now.  Burgos is roughly 15 more kilometers but there’s a ton of cafes along they way.  I want to stop and get tortillas at each one.

5 more days will be day 20 and I’ll be over half way done.  This is what I think about as I walk.  Only 5 more days.  Then the rest is a piece of cake.

I haven’t been alone with myself to measure my waist in the mirror.  I had to lose a little something by now.

I think about my weight as I walk.  It keeps me going.  I imagine myself sliding into my old jeans from high school.  Never having to shop for clothes again.

Mornings are extremely difficult for me.  It’s so cold in the mornings and the sun doesn’t come up until after 8.  I can’t drink water because then I’d have to pee in the freezing cold with my bare ass shown to the world.

The Camino isn’t an escape from the real world.  It’s not a leisurely stroll doing things at your own pace.

You’re told when to eat, when to sleep, when to wake up, where to sleep and with who…etc.  If you stay behind a day, all your new friends will march along without you.

It’s regimented for those on a tight schedule who want to spend as little money as possible.  This is how it’s done.  You’re never alone to rest and collect your thoughts, to determine your next big move in life although that’s what people think.  They think it’s all about finding yourself and escaping for a bit, but it’s not true.

I think more freely while rollerblading in my hometown than I do while walking the Camino.  

Speaking of rollerblades, outdoor sports companies cut costs by outsourcing to China and when that didn’t work, the bigger companies swallowed the smaller companies and stopped producing those products because they’re not in as high a demand as let’s say, a toaster.  

In the near future, the only products people will be able to buy are necessities that we all need and very low quality sports equipment made by huge name brands synonymous with Walmart.

Family based companies built on quality and warranties will be out of the game.  

I found all this out when shopping for rollerblades.  They’re nearly nonexistent for a good quality pair.  Neither are snowboards.

I guess I should move my fat ass.  I’ll publish this when I’m in the safety of my warm private room.  I don’t want to stop writing.

Well, today sucked.  My feet hurt so bad.  My legs are so sore.  I hate the big cities.  Burgos is like New York only with less homeless and less garbage.  

I don’t feel any more injuries accruing on my beaten up bod, but it’s still angry with me.  My body is protesting.  Holding up picket signs telling me to stop.  Just stop.

My muscles are pissed.

So I’m taking a rest day tomorrow.  But since I’m on a schedule, I’m going to taxi it to the next town I’m supposed to walk to.  Screw it.  Screw it I say!  I don’t have any say over the matter.  I really don’t.

If I walk another 15 miles like I’m dutifully supposed to tomorrow, I’ll break down and cry and seriously injure myself.

My first real rest day in 15 days.  I deserve it.  And I get to sleep in on top of it.

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Day 13 and 14

I’m at a monestery with no WIFI so I can’t publish this post until tomorrow.

I miss hotels.  Hotels are a gift from god that gives to the rich.  When was my magic bath?  Two days ago?  It feels like a lifetime.

I’ve been following my budget of around $20-$25 Euros a day since then.  I have $800 in the bank.  Today is day 13 which means I have another 22 hiking days left.  Let me do the math again, give me a sec.

I can spend $36 a day but with the conversion rate it cuts it down to about $25.  I still have $100 or so in my hidden wallet that I haven’t added into my equation.

Yesterday I didn’t pay anything for dinner, my bed, or breakfast today.  I only had 50’s and no way to make change, I tried.  I told the woman I’ll mail her a donation.

I’m now in Tosantos.  It’s very basic here.  We’re sleeping on mats placed side by side, touching each other on the floor.  And it’s cold with no blankets or pillows.  The place I planned to stay is already closed for winter.

I’ve slept in and hiked in my flannel for days now.  I keep checking to see if it smells but to me it doesn’t.  I certainly smelled my walking companions today.  Canada and Germany.  Germany knew what my last name meant in German.  My Grandpa’s fam we’re all ship captains as it turns out.   Pirates perhaps?  

Last night I met the second most arrogant man I’ve ever known in my life.

Him- “I have gifts.  My cup is overflowing and I want to share it.”

He was pissed that a cute girl with purple hair snubbed him.  She didn’t want or need his “gifts” and he went on and on about how she shouldn’t be here if she’s miserable and wants to be left alone.

He argued for 2 or 3 hours with an Irish woman about this.  His teeth and lips were stained with wine.  He’s only a couple years older than me but has no clue how he sounds.

My teeth and lips were stained too…

The purple hair girl is here with me at the monestery.  She cool and friendly.  The rest of our companions are all Asians and one man from Denmark, cute Tobias.  Everyone else is taking taxis, getting hotels or bailing.  The few of us that are left are all keeping the same pace.  The Asians have taken over the Camino.  They’re in it to win it.  I keep showing them my tattoo with the Japanese character meaning strength and they all laugh.

Burr I’m freezing.  I’m outside vaping.  And it’s the second day of my period.  

It’s the next day.  I’m outside the monestery which is now locked and I’m vaping my ecig.  It figures now I have to shit.  The next town is close so it’s not that big of a deal but damn.  Still sucks.  And I need to change my tampon.  

I better go.

Nothing is open for me to shit.  Next town is a little over 3km.  Now I’m sitting on a bench vaping my ecig.  This goddammed thing makes me lazy.  I sit and vape for way too long.

I had to get rid of my knee brace.  I either lost weight or the elastic expanded too much.  It’s not hurting anymore anyway.  

My tendons hurt minimal but now it’s my opposing tendon, the one responsible for lifting my foot that’s starting to hurt and click.

There’s a scene in Freddy Crougar where he takes all the tendons in some guys body and uses them as strings on a puppet to make him walk off a building.  My tendons remind me of that image.  It haunted me as a kid but I’d watch that movie over and over again even though it scared the shit out of me.  

Speaking of shit…..by the time I get to the next town, there’s got to be an open bar by then.  For my morning shit and second breakfast.

It’s day 14.  Each day creeps by so slowly.  

Damn, I should go dammit.  I’m still the laziest person I know.  Even on the Camino.

I’m now at the next town at a busy cafe.  Apparently everyone else had the same idea as me.  And well, I just experienced something horrific.  Something only a woman can know.

While I was walking here, I forgotten all about my tampon.  I only remembered it needed to be changed when I felt something warm exiting my body down there.  I felt it as I bent down to pick up my hiking stick.

“Oh fuck no.  No no no.”

Then more stuff started oozing out.

“Oh god please no!”

I could see the town about 10 minutes away.  A cute guy walked up behind me and started chatting.

Me- “I need el bano!”

And I bolted to the cafe, ignoring said man.

There was a mess in my underwear.  It leaked a little on my pants but you can barely notice it from the outside unless you’re looking for it.

The toilet looked like I killed a small animal when I was done with it.  Blood everywhere.  My hands looked like I massacred someone.  It was all over the inside of my thighs!

In the meantime a female Asian was knocking on the door and shaking the handle.

“Use the men’s room!”

I should get a private room tonight just to wash my pants in secret.

I changed my underwear, changed my tampon, stuck on a back-up pad which I should’ve done this morning.  I’m good for now.

I seriously have to be more careful.  I don’t know what the hell I was thinking!  Day two is my heaviest flow!

It’s like seventh grade all over again.  

I’m now done for the day at a town called Ages.  A bunch of pilgrims stopped here.  People I keep running into.

I’m so fucking crabby it’s not even funny.  I wanted so badly my own room today but since it’s nearing the end of the season, all but one Albergue remains open.  Out of like, 10.  I just want to be alone.  Alone alone alone.  And I badly need a Q-tip.  I need to call my parents to check in but dinner is served in 2 minutes.

I’m also crabby that I spent 30 Euros today.

$5 for second breakfast.

$5 for lunch

$10 for bed

$10 for dinner

I’m staying in Burgos tomorrow which sets me back a full 3 days behind.  I’m not worried about it though, I’ll catch up.

It’s day 14 but I walked super slow today.  I need a good sleep.  I need my afternoon naps. It’s 8pm.  I should lay in bed and try to sleep. 

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