Monday, 13 October 2014

Tendinitis - My new hiking companion

This was day 9 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.

In the morning when I climbed down from my bunk bed I almost lost my balance. My leg still hurt like hell. I knew it would probably get a bit better after the first few steps, but I did not know how much better. It really did. A little bit.
Despite all that I was already determined to try walking and see how it went. I was not going down without a fight!

Tendinitis (also tendonitis) is an inflammation of a tendon, which attaches the muscle to the bone. Usually it appears after muscles already got adapted to harder workout, because tendons need more time for adaptation. With use of anti-inflammatory medications and conservative treatment (mostly rest) the condition usually starts getting better after 2-3 days.
We did not have those 2-3 days of rest planned and if we went for it, it meant we would have to turn to alternative means of transportation in order to get to Santiago in time for our flight home. We obviously did not want that to happen.

We had a simple breakfast in the albergue. Although this time it was an all-you-can-eat type of breakfast we figured out that breakfasts in albergues were usually not worth the price. It was much better to stop somewhere along the way and have a proper bocadillo (that's a sandwich) for more or less the same price.

After breakfast M. helped me put a compression bandage on my sore leg. Up until that point she had been using both our bandages under socks to prevent direct contact of socks with her skin. By then cheap cotton socks from the Chinese shop were thoroughly tested and seemed to be working fine.

When we started walking it definitely felt a little better when compared to the previous day. So we kept walking. Slowly. This time M. had to seriously slow down so that I could keep up with her. I learned that stopping and taking a break is much worse compared to keeping a slow and steady pace.
Obviously we had to stop for food at some point and used the opportunity for another ice massage. It helped ease the pain for a while and it also brought down the small swelling.

We walked through some charming old villages and after a while endless wheat fields were replaced by young pine tree forest. A strong smell of pine trees mixed with blooming yellow bushes called Spanish broom was in the air. The views were great but the smells were even better. If only I could appreciate the beauty. I mainly focused on walking - it is interesting how much effort one has to put into a simple task like walking in extreme situations like this.

A section of the way we walked together with Mr. Sever (a typical Slovenian surname) and his wife. We learned they were a retired couple from the States, with ancestors in Slovenia. They did not know much more than that.
It was great talking to them - it helped me take the pain off my mind for a while and kilometres just flew by during that time.

Despite some Votaren anti-inflammatory gel and a pill of Ibuprofen (a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory effects) the pain got worse with every kilometre and we decided to call it a day a bit earlier than planned.

We stopped at Agés after walking 27 kilometres from Belorado. Our initial plan was to do a few more kilometres but regarding the situation we were more than happy with the achieved result.

Agés seemed like a cute little village from the distance, but I was just too tired to go exploring before dinner. We stayed at the Albergue municipal de Agés. In addition to many new acquaintances we also recognized some familiar faces. The rest of the evening was spent over a glass (or three) of wine, exchanging experiences with fellow pilgrims.

We also seized the opportunity to share a washing machine with a Hungarian guy. Even though we did not have many dirty clothes it was nice to skip manual laundry work for a day.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wheat fields of Castilla y León

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Friday, 3 October 2014

The legend of Santo Domingo de la Calzada

This was day 8 of our almost one month long Camino de Santiago adventure. Click on the Camino de Santiago label to see all related posts.

It was the first night on the Camino without earplugs. The luxury of a private room for a price of a dorm bed is always a good thing.
The bad thing on the other hand was damp and moldy air in our small room. Our wet laundry drying inside the room probably also had something to do with the stench.

We quickly put our stuff together, hung our still damp socks on the outside of our backpacks and in a couple of minutes we were ready for breakfast. Homemade jam from blackberries and figs on a hot toast was exactly what we needed.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada was the first in a series of beautiful old towns on our way. We made a short stop but the Cathedral was still closed. We were too early again. Obviously the famous cock and hen sleep late into the morning. If you were wondering... Yes, they do keep a live cock and a hen inside the church.

This is one of the most famous legends on the Camino - The legend of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. There are many variations of the same story... here is one of them:

Once upon the time a German pilgrim family stayed in a local inn for the night. A young Spanish girl named Beatriz working at the inn fell in love with their 18 year old son but he was fairly indifferent to her advances.
Offended by the lack of attention, the girl decided to hide a silver cup, belonging to the innkeeper, inside the young German’s cloth sack.
The following morning, when the German family unsuspectingly continued their march towards Santiago, she denounced the arranged theft to the authorities.
The laws of the time, the Jurisdiction of Alfonso X El Sabio, punished the crime of theft with death and, once caught and judged, the young German was hanged without mercy in the gallows outside the town wall. Burdened with grief his parents had to continue the journey to the grave of the Holy James alone.
Several months later, while returning from Santiago de Compostela, the German couple went past the place of execution - when suddenly they heard their son talking to them from the gallows above: ’I am not dead, Santo Domingo de la Calzada has saved my life by supporting my feet.’
The parents immediately hurried to the house of the city’s judge with the news of the miracle. The judge was sitting at the dinner-table with a well-cooked cock and hen on a dish in front of him. He was just about to begin the feasting on this appetizing meal, when the German couple bursted into the dining room and breathlessly reported what had happened.
Incredulous, – and irritated about the interruption - the judge answered that their son was about as alive as the cock and hen he had on the table in front of him. But… just as he said these words, cock and hen both leaped from the plate and began to crow!

Since then – and this is true – the traveller will find a cage in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, with a live hen and a cock, always white, in memory of the great miracle of Santo Domingo.

Soon after the town we crossed from the province of Rioja to Castilla y León. Pretty quickly endless vineyards were replaced by wheat fields.

As we were closing in on Belorado I started feeling a sharp pain next to the shin bone of my right leg. It was getting worse by every step.
When I complained about it to M. she said with a worried look on her face: 'Say hello to tendinitis - one of the top reasons for not finishing the Camino in the first attempt!'

When we got to Belorado we were aiming for the Albergue parroquial - it is a part of a monastery and built partly into a cliff (look for the windows on the face of the cliff to the left of the church in the photo below). The building looks really interesting and also has a charming church with storks nesting on its bell tower. Too bad it was already full.

When we finally found a place in one of the other nearby albergues (Albergue de peregrinos Caminante) I was already pretty exhausted. Even though we walked only 29 kilometres this day from Cirueña to Belorado I would not be able to walk much further.

After the usual daily stretching-shower-laundry-massage routine we spent the evening in the main town's square. We had a few drinks and tasted a few varieties of local tapas... or maybe it was pinchos - I still can't tell the difference. The most interesting was probably their variety of a blood sausage. We washed it down with some good local wine for a bargain price.

We looked for some decent hiking socks (without wool) for M. in the nearby shops. Her allergy seemed to be slowly getting better. We also needed to work something out about her rain poncho - since we went for light-weight instead of quality, it started to tear in many places. We fixed it with some electrical insulating tape from a nearby shop. Hopefully a proper rain field test will not come too quickly.

M. tried to ease my leg pain with some ice massage. It helped a bit but after we finished our dinner, I still barely limped back to our albergue.

I was afraid what morning might bring. If the pain was the same or worse for the whole next day, I would be forced to stop for a few days. It would be just too much to bare...

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