Distance: A light 21 kilometers

Blister Count: Up to 9!! One of my toes at this point became more blister than toe – I started to wonder as the blister spread over tip of the toe and around the nail – what if it goes all the way under the nail? Is that possible? will I lose the nail? These were troubling thoughts.

Injury Inventory: More or less the same, but more intense.

So , this was supposed to be a short day, but the pain became intense. As I realized I was becoming “that girl with the foot pain who is always limping” I started to consider perhaps these shoes were not going to get me to Santiago. I had already noticed that almost no one was wearing boots,despite the advice of every guidebook and shoestore clerk. Is there some sort of code of silence about this? Is it like a way of initiating people “ha ha! they’re a newbie! look! they’re wearing boots! Suckers!” it started to feel this way. I started to think about where I could get to a decent shoe store, it was getting grim.

The walk was still beautiful though. We were getting into wine country!! One of the first placces passed int eh morning was the monasterio de Irache. Now, there are water fountains everywhere along the camino, but at this monastery they decided to go one better and put out a wine fountain!!! I shit you not!! One spigot for water, one for wine!! Only in Spain. As it was still before 10am, I only took a little sip, as, according the monastery’s sage advice, it will help you on your journey.

Didn’t help my feet though. At the high point, before the painfuldescent began after Monjardin de Villamayor (I love these towns names!!) I rearranged insoles, taking out the factory ones, leaving the silicone, and adding teh gel heels on top. It’s a constantly evolving experiment at this point.

I was going reaaaaally slow, which is psychologically difficult because then you know the pain will only last longer.

So I was in luck when a boisterous Catalan IT guy who I had met the night before decided to keep me company. I realized I walk much faster with someone to talk to. I can’t hobble along in silence contemplating the pain of every step. This is the guy who was probably kept way behind cuz of my limping, but he stuck with me and even called ahead to get his friends to reserve a place for me too at the hostel – Casa Austria.

Casa Austria was great!! And when I got there, one of the Italians had already whiped up a Carbonara with some extra for me!!!! How beautiful was that! (Dietary note – I am surviving exclusively on carbohydrates at this point. And still losing weight!)

Los Arcos was when I started to realize something funny about the Camino – you quickly become a familiar face within a community. I thought I was going to do this to have “alone time” but its almost impossible. And people, in difficult circumstances, are so drawn to a familiar face. Everyone starts to fill a community niche.

As I started to say before, my identity was becming “that limping American girl with the very good Spanish and the Italian boyfriend.” I didn’t realize to what extent these identities are all being fixed on us here until I was in the bathroom and ran into one of the women I see often on the Camino, who walks with two friends, I don’t know her name. She looked at me with a sort of motherly happy surprise and relief “Oh you’re here!” (like she’d known me for donkeys years) “We didn’t see you today and we were wondering if you’d stopped because of your feet! How nice you’ve made it!”

It was the “we” that got me. People are out there watching out for you, more than you know. That was today’s lesson.