It was, however, a staggering, stumbling kind of day – uniquely humid, repetitive gradual climbs and what felt to be an unbearably lengthy time of simply trying to wake up. There has been a lot of tossing and turning over the past weeks and I am beginning to notice how sleep deprived I feel. Perhaps this morning was just a cumulative sensation of all of that coupled with the new emotional and physical dealings with my toe(s). They look so bad that it can be hard to distance yourself from “catastrophizing” the circumstance and trusting that the damage will eventually remedy itself.
I think all of this coupled with the fact that there was an enormous influx of new pilgrims merging onto the path (those who do the last 100 kilometers) that it was a day that simply felt hard on all fronts.
Groups of noisy walkers would pass and I would find myself hanging back again and again to find pockets of quiet.
By that afternoon, it began to rain. This was not the drizzly kind that I had encountered on occasion – this was a real downpour and even with my poncho on and my backpack covered, I decided it best to wait it out by ducking into an open cow barn.
For approximately 15 minutes, I breathed in the smell I had come to encounter for the last week – moist cow manure. The bovine beauties were chewing their cud and looking at me as if I were the ugliest breed they´d seen in these parts. The requisite barn dog growled at me for invading his space but did nothing more than that since I believe it was his siesta time.
Standing there with the cows, growling dog, wet – feet hurting, tendons still throbbing, it all just got to be ridiculously absurd and I actually started to laugh at all the elements of my predicament. “Who else do you know who´s standing in a cow barn in Spain wearing a backpack, soaking wet and is hobbling along on swollen legs and feet?” No one with any sense, that´s for sure and I just thought how my roads of travel adventures have certainly gotten me into some rare and priceless predicaments.
My mood lifted in that barn. I made a few friends with the cows and as soon as the downpour let up, I continued on to Palas del Rei.
Within 2 hours I was standing at the first building I saw in the town that had habatacion on it. Something drew me there even though I knew it wasn´t the pilgrim alburgue. It was sort of an upscale camping hotel – a bit pricey for pilgrims, 37€ but something said take it. I had a private room and a private bath and I spent the rest of that evening, drying clothes, bathing, trying to restore my body.
It had been a very out of sorts day but this resting place was absolutely what I needed and I fell deeply asleep.