I’m finding it difficult to write about everything that happened today. It was such a rollercoaster of a day.
We went from waking up in the rain to having to start the hike on a busy road, to sun and peacefulness on quiet pastoral roads and trail.
We started out confident, armed with the directions from Father Pierre, so sure we would not get lost, to questioning the directions, due to lots of things being lost in the translation.
Part of the day was fun and easy. We had fun taking pictures of all the animals we were passing, mooing at the cows as we walked by them, and getting caught up in the herd of sheep. We even picked up a doggy friend who walked with us for a little while.
We went from feeling like we were making great pace, taking time to relax for lunch, to feeling like we would never make it. Suddenly our hike felt like it would never end.
I went from feeling good, like I was getting the hang of this, to feeling like my body couldn’t carry me anymore.
I cried. I laughed. I was anxious. I was peaceful. I went through every emotion I possible could all in the cycle of one day.
I loved the hike, it was amazing, and at the same time I hated the hike more than I’ve ever hated anything in the world.
By the time we exited the forest we’d been walking in for several hours, and saw the sign for Orloron-Sainte-Marie, I felt like my feet couldn’t take one more step. Then we saw the sign that we still had 40 minutes of walking before we reached city center. I don’t even remember what I said to Eric. But I’m sure it’s something along the lines of, “No way. I’m not going any further. I’ll stay here.”
Somehow, we both found it within us to keep walking. We walked down the hill and towards town. We kept walking for what seemed like ages. It was about 8pm – almost ten hours after we started. All I wanted was a bed.
We got to what felt like city center, but we couldn’t figure out how to get to the gite we were supposed to stay at that night. We asked several people but they were not sure. Then all the sudden, this little older guy and his wife, pull over to see if they can help us. We ask them how to get to city center and they point down the hill. Eric and I glance at each other, crushed that we have to walk down this gigantic hill. I used to think going down hills was the easy part, but oh how I was mistaken.
They drive off and we start to walk. All the sudden, he stops the car. Gets out and walks over to us. In Spanish he asks Eric if we are pilgrims. When we reply “yes”, he gets out his phone and calls our gite. He tells the owner we are “tres fatigue”. He asks if they still have a spot of us. Then he gets off his phone, grabs my pack off my back, and puts it in the back of his car. He goes on to tell Eric that he insists that he take us to the gite.
We learn that this man is Pepito and he too has hiked the Camino. He understands our pain. Pepito saved us because there is no way we would have made it down that hill and found our gite without a serious meltdown.
We get to the gite, pay our 24 euros, and are pleasantly surprised with a private room complete with a bathroom. Both of us are so sore we can hardly move, but we take a hot shower and crawl into bed. I notice how every inch of my body from my head to my toenails ache. We didn’t even eat dinner, but we are too tired to care.
Once we get into bed, Eric says he’s been thinking and he has solution to our current condition. I’m thankful and I am hoping he is going to suggest we stay in this town for a few days because there’s no way I’m walking another 20 something kilometers tomorrow.
I’m grateful when he does suggests just that. We agree we should stay, find a hotel with wifi, try and get some work done, and relax so that we don’t hurt ourselves. We both agree the worst thing would be if one of us gets seriously hurt because we push it and then we can’t finish.
The only thing…because we are staying to recover, we will be off our schedule and we have to be in Orisson on the 19th because we already booked a gite, which books up very fast. We decided if we have to do a combination of walking and hitchhiking to get to the Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, that is OK. The Camino is harder than either of us thought it would be – mentally and physically. It’s part of the journey. Eric tells me we should trust in the journey. That it will take care of us.
I’m still unsure of what to make of today. There are too many emotions wrapped up into this day, I can’t separate them out. I’m all mixed up – feeling tired, broken, alive, and free all at once.
Distance: 32,620 Steps!!!! (14.08 miles)
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