So when dawn arrives, I know exactly what I will do.
With scissors in hand, I cut off the bottoms of my brand new hiking trousers and then cut off the tops of a new pair of Merino wool socks. “There, that should do the trick” I tell Robin as he raises his eyes to the ceiling. And as if it was meant to be, Robin suggests that the tops of the socks could serve as a pair of gloves for Caroline, who hasn’t brought any.
That morning, we set off early after a pre-packed croissant, a piece of toast, and a coffee made from a capsule.
The weather has changed dramatically. It is very cold, being 527m high and there is an icy wind.
I look like a wooden puppet with its trousers shorn off and bare ankles while Caroline is happy with her new gloves. We were both happy, and that’s all that mattered.
Walking alongside a major road is not what I’d envisaged, but we plough on, laughing and joking with other pilgrims as we go, all with the same aim, but each of us on our own journeys.
Thousands and thousands of pilgrims have trodden this same path before me. If they can do it, so can we!
So we are on the road again, heading for Lugar, Herrerias and after a couple of hours walking in the cold, we decide to take a break.
We open the door to a cafe, and it is like we have stumbled across a completely different place in time. It reminds me of one of those Western films when the cowboys enter a tavern to escape the icy cold wind. The door slams behind them and they are in a warm bar. They bang their sore feet up on a table and order a whisky.
Well this wasn’t that much different, as we all immediately disrobe and take off our shoes and socks. We don’t put our feet on the table, of course, but I don’t think anyone would bat an eye if we did as it’s the usual practice around here to nurse a blister in public. No-one stands on ceremony. Instead of a whisky, I order a hot chocolate. Absolute Heaven! Although I would point out, there is a bit of a pong pervading the café. I try not to think about it as I gulp down my warm milky drink, although I am already mentally blaming the woman sitting in the corner writing on her iPad for making such an awful smell in the Ladies. It is now beginning to permeate my clothes. This is something I will have to get used to on this trip. Using public toilets and ignoring the odour. It goes with the territory when you are travelling with so many other pilgrims who probably aren’t fortunate enough to have their own bathroom facilities at their hostel. So I mentally give myself a telling off as Caroline helps me change a blister plaster and we are on the road again. What a Princess I am, I think to myself. This has got to change!
There’s a complete shift in the weather and the sun is shining. We approach a chemist and I decide to ask the pharmacist if she has anything for my rash which is getting worse again. As I gingerly raise my shorn off trousers, she takes a brief look and gives me a knowing nod. She tells me she had the same thing happen to her when she did the Camino, sells me some cooling gel which literally costs an arm AND a leg and tells me to cover up my ankles to protect them from the Sun. I take her advice then and there, apply the cream and put on some long supportive socks. A bit hot, I think, but they are all I have. I heave my back pack on again, tighten the strap to the nth degree and soldier on. Up and up we go taking in the glorious views, and then it strikes me. “Oh no! I’ve left the cooling gel back at the chemist!” I shout to Robin. A pained expression comes over his face, but then without hesitation, he is bounding down the hill still carrying his rucksack! After about 20 minutes, he returns jubilantly with cream in hand. Oh how lucky am I, I think. My Prince Charming! I’ve been truly blessed. But I really will have to stop behaving like the Princess!
Herrerias is truly a place of beauty and serenity and when we arrive at our hotel, find there is a fantastic view overlooking the countryside. We unwind in the warmth of the sun enjoying rather large gins and some tonic. They don’t seem to bother with measures out here. They simply bring the gin bottle to your table and pour in half a tumbler full!