The “Saint of Butt Wipe”

On the 22nd, I woke up in Villamayor at a great Albergue. It was connected to a four star hotel and we had access to the facilities. Around 6:00 AM, several women tentatively approached me for a favor. The ladies room was without paper and they needed a tall man from Idaho to raid the men’s room. I was dubbed the “saint of butt wipe” to begin my day.

I had to make a decision on the distance today. It was 38KM to Burgos or 18KM to the last Albergue. In other words, a big day or two small days. I decided on the big day and planned to take a full day of rest in Burgos on Sunday. I started the trek uphill, alone, and in the dark.

After some time, I met a young lady from Greece named Eugina. She was 23 and had completed her university with a degree in accounting. She was on a very tight budget but would not accept coffee at the first stop. I learned that Greece has 11M people. 4M live in Athens and 1M live in her city. Hard to believe that a country of this size can tip over the US economy. She departed while I was having coffee and a sandwich.

Later, I met Sung Eh from Korea. We had trouble communicating but still walked for about 25 minutes. She and her husband were the great singers in Granon. We discovered a very cool purple flower that did not have a stem. They were everywhere.

About 2/3 of the way to Burgos while massaging my foot, I discovered a bump. My heart stopped. It was my first blister. Camino cancer. Most people puncture the blister with a needle and thread. The thread is left in to encourage drainage. There is a special bandage (Compeed) that is applied after the drain. Mine was drained with cuticle clippers. For the 90 minutes, I hosted quite a large pity party for myself. I tried to think of good times or events; but joy was on a siesta. During the fiesta of doom, I ran into Martin (Germany) and Kim (Salt Lake).

Martin started walking from Germany on June 2 and has a very unique walking stick. It was decorated with words and other items from friends met along the path. Kim plans to stay in Europe until May. They have found Camino Love and are now a couple. He is traveling as a mendicant (without money). He sells homemade crosses to generate funds. They sleep outside every night. While we walked, my feet did not seem to hurt. When we parted ways, the pain returned.

It suddenly dawned on me that I was being very selfish. For God’s sake, I have been walking for 9 days, have a pocket full of Euros, no terminal disease, great love for Roberta, friend / family, and many more things. If my biggest problem is a piss ant blister, then how lucky am I??

I thought there was a recession in Spain, but it took me two hours and fifteen attempts to find a hotel room. I had been on my feet for 12 hours before finding my palace. FYI… most days are between 7-9 hours of walking. The room was modest, but too good to be true. My clothes were placed in the closet. Not due to necessity, but because I could!! The toilet was clean and had a seal for insurance. My drinking water went into a clean glass. I soaked in the tub for at least an hour and massaged my feet using the rim of the tub. I had a religious moment and asked my feet for forgiveness. There is quite a bit of judgment as the jury is still out. I drained the tub and continued with a shower and enjoyed having a bath rag to really clean body.

When the entire event was over, it was like sex, I wanted to do it again! For the evening, I ate domino’s pizza, Hagen Daas caramel crisp sandwich and went to bed. Alone in a bed with sheets.

Breakfast was included with the room. Most of the breakfasts along the way are coffee and bread. My expectations were shattered as they had eggs, meats, cereal, fruit, coffee juice (2 types), pastries, vegetables, and yogurt. I grazed for an hour and wrote in my journal. I finished eating around 10 AM and decided to walk. My day of rest would be banked for a day when it may not be an option. The Albergues make you leave by 8:00 so the Camino was without people. I hope that another person enjoys room 305 at the Almirante Bonifaz as much as I did. It was priceless.

To help you understand the feeling in the foot, I want you to live the following story: Imagine that you have the secret nuclear codes and have been captured. Yuri knows that he cannot kill you and water boarding is not an option, so he decides to give you the foot beating. With your feet locked into a rack and the bottoms exposed, he takes a small baton and begins to tap every square inch. The blows are not strong enough to break a bone, but after 9 hours the message has been received. Now, get up and walk to San Diego from San Francisco.

I often play games in my mind. One of them is to think about what I really need in my rucksack. I did not bring much, but it is a nice exercise. Do I really need my journal or do the memories live in my mind. Could I live without my camera? Would the trip end if someone took my socks? Since I have so much time, I went through each item in the pack. The next question is much larger. What do I really need that is not in my backpack?

I am now in a portion of the Camino called the Meseta. This is the Don Juan portion of the trip where the mind faces serious obstacles. For 200KM, there is little change in scenery or elevation. In the guide book, the two waypoints on a 17KM stretch are trees. Two trees!

For the past two days, I have walked with strong and relentless winds. Were it not for the chinstrap, my hat would surely accompany Dorothy on the yellow brick road. Yesterday, the sky was grey and it felt like she would unload at any moment. The few drops that did arrive were refreshing. About 15 minutes after arriving in Hornillas de Camino it let loose. It poured all night, but was clear in the morning. At one point, I ran into Martin and Kim. I asked if he wanted a Bocadilla (sandwich), his mouth said no, but he smiled when it arrived.

My attachment to the walking stick is beginning to worry me. Could it be my Wilson from Cast Away?

Buen Camino,