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Cowboy café and an exploding toe

P1000494I had been lucky. For three weeks I had been overtaking pilgrims limping in agony with damaged tendons or infected blisters. I’d listened to accounts of bed bug bites, strains, shin splints and knees that just couldn’t take any more. I’d seen boots abandoned by the roadside. And some injuries were so bad people had been hospitalized or had to go home.

The solitary blister on the little toe of my  left foot had been a slight inconvenience for a few days and I’d doctored it by adding layer after layer of Compeed as protection. Today, though, the pressure was growing and there was no longer enough space in my boots to comfortably contain the swelling.

I limped to Santa Catalina de Sonoza for our first stop then stumbled on to the cowboy café at El Ganso. Cowboys always bring a smile to my face!

But when we reached Rabanal (after 21k) I sank down on the doorstep of the grocery shop and really wanted to stop for the day. However my companion insisted we stick to the plan and so we set off limping up the long hill towards Foncebadón another 6km away.

IMG_0751Suddenly I felt the blister that comprised my entire little toe explode in my boot! I could walk no further.

I peeled off my boots and socks then explored the mushy mess at the end of my foot then rummaged frantically in my pack: the only option was to wear my sandals with many socks and the strap as loose as possible.  What relief – it worked!

Walking was slow though and there weren’t many beds left by the time we arrived in Foncebadón, but we didn’t end up sleeping down in the sheds beside the goats like the people who arrived even later.

There was no warm water so the cold shower was a short, refreshing one; the beers were chilled, the communal meal delicious and the vino tinto made an excellent painkiller before bed at 8.30pm.

Blister? Ah, that would be tomorrow’s problem.

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