Daily Archives: August 8, 2012

Somebody Up There Likes Me

They say that walking El Camino de Santiago is an intense experience, and I think it’s fair to say that my experiences so far bear that out.

Quite apart from the extravagant beauty of the scenery and the spectacularly aching appendages that I’ve been endlessly banging on about, there have been many other memorable firsts, including walking a mountain range in The Basque Country with Marc Bolan; playing chicken with the local rail network in Cantabria; and being eyed up by a bull in Asturias.

But I think also it’s fair to say that today’s adventure is right up there in the annals of new experiences.

I got hit by a truck.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds (never let the truth get in the way of a good story) – if it was, I clearly wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.

If you take the time to do a quick Google image search of ‘The Camino of St. James’, ‘The Santiago Way’, ‘El Camino del Norte’ (my one), or even, if you’ve got the energy, ‘El Camino de Compostela de Santiago’, you’re very likely to come up with the sort of photographs that I’ve posted to date.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, there tends to be a complete absence of the type of photo that I’ve used as today’s header, showing an example of one of today’s little yellow way-markers (just to prove that I wasn’t going the wrong way).

Almost every section of The Northern Way has got its own stretch of tarmac involved, as I’ve mentioned before, but very occasionally there’s a stretch like the one above that makes you question the sanity of the Spaniards, although they are also usually mercifully brief.

Having set off bright and early from Llanes this morning, I was making pretty good headway on today’s 29km hike to Ribadesella; after about 7km or so I found myself on a fairly quiet B-road looking out for signs for the next bit of countryside…and the next minute I found myself in a ditch.

A driver of a bread van that was passing at a thankfully fairly leisurely pace clearly misjudged the distance between his wing-mirror and my over-sized backpack, and the former clipped the latter sending me not exactly flying, but certainly stumbling rather faster than I would have liked into the aforementioned ditch.

Obviously it was a bit of a shock, but I quickly realised I had sustained no more serious injuries than a bit of wounded pride; which was also entirely out of proportion to the stick that the van driver was getting from the other drivers who had been passing by – knocking peregrinos into ditches is clearly not the done thing around here.

Despite my protestations that I was absolutely fine, the van driver, who I think was in more shock than I was, insisted on taking me to the local hospital…back in Llanes…where I had started walking the best part of two hours earlier.

We then had to wait another half hour for the receptionist at the hospital to type in my passport details and finally present the driver with a bill for 62 Euros for a medical consultation for me (that I would have had to wait another 2 hours to receive), which she seemed to be insisting that he pay.

I thought it looked like he couldn’t really afford it, and I certainly didn’t need it, so I suggested a deal via sign language that if he drove me back to the scene of the crime plus another 3km or so to make up for lost time, we’d call it quits.

I may not speak Spanish, but it was fairly clear that he was happy with the arrangement.

As regards the title of today’s post, don’t worry, I haven’t got to a stage on this pilgrimage where I’ve started to interpret accidents of fate as mystical experiences. (That sentence doesn’t really work, does it?).

It was only an excuse for a bit of Bowie, really.

The more vigilant amongst those of you who have been following this blog will have noticed the absence of a post yesterday.

Unlike previous explanations, WiFi was actually in plentiful supply.

So I’ll just  come clean. I took a day off.

Somehow, it seemed as if it was gradually taking a bit longer to walk the same sort of distance each day, and blisters aside, I felt like I was starting to lose a bit of Camino mojo.

But just in case anyone who has been kind enough to sponsor me so far feels a little short-changed, I should add that I spent my day covering a fair old distance via another mode of transport. 15km to be precise. In a kayak.

The Sella River is a stunning waterway that travels through Los Picos de Europa, the same mountain range that I had seen in Cantabria and whose name apparently derives from the fact that they were the first sight of Europe for ships arriving from The Americas (thanks, Wikipedia).

Arronidas, where I started the journey, is about a 40 minute drive from Llanes. And the journey ends at El descenso del Sella, tantalisingly close to Ribadesella, my next destination. Given my experiences today, maybe I shouldn’t have got a bus back to Llanes after all…

The map below, if you’re interested, will give you an idea of the kind of terrain the kayak trek travels through, but for me the most important feature was that it was flat, flat, flat. And that I could put my feet up all day. If you look closely, you’ll see that they needed it (yep, that’ll be the sponsorship sympathy vote again).

And talking of maps, I mentioned in the last post that I would be officially crossing the half way line today. And I have.

Arriving at Ribadesella today meant that I have now covered 432.4km of 825km (that’ll be about 268 of 500 miles).

And this it what it looks like (and how far there still is to go).

Anyway, that’s quite enough excitement for one day (or two, even)

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Bread Truck, Charity, David Bowie, Llanes, Rethink Mental Illness, Ribadesella, The Northern Way

“Over thinking, Over analyzing, separates the body from the mind…”

One of my favorite songs by TOOL



Secrets

So the other day, when I had a mini-meltdown, I was thinking about all the secrets that I hold. All the secrets that only me an another person share. And how none of them are good secrets. And then I wonder why I keep them secrets. And then I realized that I either care too much for others, even when they hurt me, or I don’t care enough about myself to allow others to hurt and violate me like they have, and not say anything about it.

I was never told to not tell anyone. It was just kind of one of those things, that you KNEW you weren’t supposed to tell another soul. Yet, all these years, they have eaten my soul alive. And if I say anything to anyone about them now, letting those secrets out would destroy lives. Even families.

I can’t release them. They would cause far more damage to other people than they would me. But I so desperately want to be free of them. I wonder if it would make me feel better? Or worse? Or if I would feel no change at all? I want to break free of the pain they have caused, but I can’t bare to share that pain with the people that don’t know.

I wonder if the other people think about the things I think about? I wonder if their souls have been eaten alive as well? I wonder if they feel bad about the things they have done. Have they asked for forgiveness from their God? Did their God grant it? And then my mind wanders further… WHY did they invoke so much upon me? What happened to them that made them think that was ok?

I wonder if none of those things happened in my life, if that would make me a different person? Would that have changed the the choices I had made?

I hide it all away. No one will ever comprehend the things I have gone through. People would be shocked, because you see, I appear to be well put together most of the time. But really, I am just a great actress.

Waiting For…

As I’m sitting here reflecting on travel and family and the stress-inducing interaction of the two, I’m wondering what my mood is going to be like when we make our trek stateside. I’ve been bumping along pretty crappily for months now; will I be in such straits then? The chances of that are pretty good, seeing how Bipolar II is heavily coloured by all the depression in the world. I am, of course, hopeful that I’m burning through all the depression time now (ha ha ha) to be happier and functional then, but I’m not counting on it.

What I am hoping for at best is that the time change and the dealing with so many people won’t cause me to have a breakdown. I’ve always had a problem with ‘too much input’, and being around so many people excited to see me is going to be incredibly wearying for an introvert like myself. I don’t thrive on excitement — I internalize it and end up with a face full of fever blisters. And I end up feeling like the bad guy for trying to set firm boundaries to protect myself (though less so now that meds mean I’m less anxious, and less likely to bite someone’s face off). But the waiting, oh the waiting… it leaves a lot of time for the mind to try and sabotage itself.

But eh, it’ll probably be okay. I know what I’m up against, and have better tools to get along with. I do hope depression recedes enough for me to be able to make the most of my time, but I’ll make do as I always have done. :)

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