This post is a day behind for two reasons:
1. I was mentally exhausted when I arrived in Pamplona after walking nearly 23kms in the dusty hot sunshine. Physically, however, I felt invincible.
2. Once I had showered and peeled off my very dirty trekking clothes for the last time, the only thought on my mind was a celebratory cerverza or ten with my favourite peregrinos.
Read my other posts about the Camino de Santiago and walking here.
We finished our 70km section of the Camino changed from when we started – more assured in ourselves and stronger as individuals and as a group. As I mentioned on day one, apprehension was the main thing we collectively shared as we passed through the gates of St Jean. The road ahead was unknown, the terrain intimidating and the stories from this section frightening. On our last day, we were comfortable and confident in ourselves, and in each other, as peregrinos.
We had conquered the Pyrenees and coped with freezing fog, alongside navigating tricky paths in the baking hot sun. We became closer as a group as we endured the challenges, and shared each meal times, together. But on the last day a new element was added – we became the Camino choir. Cath came up with the genus idea of teaching each other songs from our native countries to block out the pain of the last 8kms. Our repertoire was a mixed bag including Scottish, Irish and Australian folk songs, along with the classic, the Quartermaster’s Store.
Back to point one – about feeling physically invincible. Sure, my knee is tense today and the masseus is going to earn every penny next time I see him, but I’m completely confident that neither of those things would stop me. My legs felt solid, my core strength work has paid off and my eye symptoms have improved significantly over the 4 days. I do realise that without medication I would be far from invincible, but as I’m reducing what I’m taking I hope that my strength comes from me alone next time.
I always try to figure out what has led to the change, for better or worse, and it is difficult to know with this one. Exercise should technically fatigue my muscles, but I find it usually improves my symptoms. Unless I’m exhausted for other reasons, I find myself stronger, with more energy and my ocular symptoms improved after physical exertion. So it’s probably partly due to that, increasing my steroids by 1mg, being more relaxed and finishing the dose of anti-biotics.
Even after the hedonistic celebrations last night and the lack of sleep because of them, the double vision faded after a few seconds this morning and the ptosis has improved significantly. To stop the symptoms from coming back, I’ll need to live cleanly over the next few days and get lots of rest. But for now I’m still high on the achievement of completing yet another section of the Camino and from all the fun we had along the way.
Although I’m sad the Camino is over for this year, having the confidence boost of being blister free (after splashing out on expensive shoes and socks) feeling my symptoms improve on the road and feeling physically strong has made me determined to do a longer stretch of the Camino next time. I would love to do the whole French Way, from St Jean to Santiago de Compostella, but the logistics of it are a challenge as you need between 30- 45 days and a lot of money. Having walked two separate sections now, last year I did Sarria to Santiago, I know that the shorter trips are easy to plan, a great way to spend a holiday and make it easy to appreciate each day as time is limited. Even now, with my sore knee and tired legs, I can’t wait for my next adventure on the Camino.