The last few days walking have been challenging. There were a lot of ups and downs, physically and emotionally. The climbing is not an issue for my knee but what goes up must come down and the resulting pain on the descents has me, as my walking companion termed it, turning inwards. I felt yesterday that I had been hit by a truck and then dragged a few hundred metres. So my thoughts did not wander into philosophical regions but instead entrenched themselves into other areas which at first glance may not seem so important but have great meaning here.
The first year I walked we came up with a star rating for the bathrooms we encountered. Little did I realize we weren’t original in this regard. I met a woman from Ottawa the other day (and it was so comforting to hear someone jokingly ask where was the next Timmies) who came out of a bathroom stating it was a 4 star. Apparently it was missing paper to dry your hands. I give one star for each of the following:
Toilet paper. This is not a given. I always forget to carry my own and I always wait until I’m desperate, meaning that I don’t check before I sit down.
Light. Some bathrooms have a timer on the switch. This is great except most timers only run about 20 seconds and then leave you in total darkness. I don’t know anybody who can get their pants undone and down, pee, wipe, and stand up again in 20 seconds. And if you’re desperate to pee you’re not likely to take note of where the switch was located. Not to mention that it can take tired legs the full time allotment to lower the tired ass to the toilet seat.
Soap. Enough said.
Means of drying hands. This is fairly low on my list , I can use my shorts or just air dry, but it’s nice to have an option.
Toilet seat. Also nice to have. Sitting on a rim just feels icky. I did give a bathroom four stars the other day. It had everything but a toilet, just a hole in the floor. This is the only time I have encountered that.
Things people talk about
We were sitting in Grandas de Salime drinking cidra. This is a regional drink that is poured and drunk in a certain way. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m6CCLB7dOJU After 4 bottles had been consumed we were posed the question “Do you know what the seven deadly sins are?” Apparently this was one of the topics discussed the previous day coming down the long mountain descent. We got to six and had to look up the seventh. We then progressed to reindeer, dwarves, Brady Bunch kids, and the Partridge Family. My walking partner made me promise I would never do that while we were walking, no matter how bad it got.
I don’t know if Spanish people are short or just don’t see the point of bathtubs. I have scored a bathtub twice while here. The first didn’t have an adequate supply of hot water. The second had lots but I couldn’t submerge any of my legs except my upper thighs and my feet. Why are bathtubs in different countries different? Tubs in England are really long and deep but super narrow.
See? Not philosophical at all. This is where my mind wanders when my knee is throbbing at every step.
I used to think I could anticipate a person’s hugging prowess based on their appearance but I have been proven wrong enough times that I now just hug with open arms and heart. I have received some spectacular hugs in my time here. Arms wrapped around each other, breathing in synchrony, time stands still. I met a woman in the albergue who was walking the Camino in the reverse direction, offering free hugs to all she met. The instant I heard her say that, I came leaping out from the kitchen, and if people had been in my way they would have been pushed aside in my eagerness to get a hug. Really, there’s not much better. I know a young woman at the yoga studio where I practice, and the first thing we do when we see each other is hug. Standing on the stairs and laughing while you hug is even more fun. Hug for joy when you see someone you like, hug with sadness when you must say goodbye, hug with all you can in your heart and soul.