Gorgeous morning skies opened up with the rise of the sun and I seem to take a record number of pics while starting out as my mind and body felt rested from last night’s accomodations. Today was Palas del Rei to Ribadiso – a lengthy 27 kilometer day. I wore short “footie” socks with the open hiking sandals again and there seemed to be enough support and a large enough area around my toes to avoid any additional pain or swelling. The hiking boots were now permanently stuffed into side pouches on the backpack.

With the footwear situation handled, I moved forward with thoughts of the near completion of the journey and a catalog of Michael Jackson songs going through my mind.
I abandoned using the walking stick (stuck it through a loophole in my pack) and discovered that by using my thumbs tucked within the shoulder straps of the pack, I could play around with the pressure, hoist it forward and create an entirely new walking experience. OK, so I discovered this on day 32….better late than never.

I continued to reflect on my introverted nature and how much more I seemed to enjoy the walking experience alone than with others. But was that really the full story or was there other factors that contributed to that choice? I finally admitted to myself that when I would be walking with someone, I would be totally focused on whether or not I was going fast enough for them – was I inhibiting their experience? I would seem to forget that everyone has the liberty to choose to tell me they were going to pick up speed or to simply know that if someone walked with me, it was because they wanted to.

I adored my periodic hours of walking with Paulo from Bologna, Italy. Our walking together was joyous, entertaining, flirty and a time for both of us to help each other with our native language. Come si chiama quella cosa in italiano? When our strides varied, we’d pick up the conversations over dinner. And there was a heart-opening crush that developed that made introversion seem non-existent. Yes, it was hard to hang back a day way back in Burgos knowing he was going to continue the following morning.

So is it really about being an introvert or more appropriately targeted towards worrying about what others think and leaning to aspects of people pleasing? Perhaps a bit of both. Maybe it just depended on the energy felt in the moment between those on the trail. It was a huge day of reflection with a wide and varied Michael Jackson soundtrack.

With only two more days to go, Ribadiso became a sort of gathering pit stop for many of the same tribe of pilgrims I’d seen and spent time with for the last two weeks.
The alburgue was a large compound of sleeping quarters, showers and a small flowing stream with a rock formed in the shape of a dock where many dangled their legs to soothe swollen feet.

There was a long table of us for dinner that night – pilgrims winding down their lengthy, strenuous journey. The mood was part anxious, part relief, part giddiness at what the next two days would hold. Soon afterwards, sleep beckoned and it was a relief to be able to drift off fairly easily.

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