Camino de Santiago: The Sickness

Pietro made the sauce while I cut the vegetables.  Lisa and Marcela sat in the kitchen to escape the bitter cold of our (partially unroofed) albergue meanwhile Bartek and Karl said that they would help to make dinner but really only helped to eat it.  It was only a few hours ago, but thinking about that jovial laughter is making me furious.  Sticking it to the guys for not helping and hoarding the wine between Pietro and myself seemed like great fun.  Those second and third helpings were a godsend after hiking thirty-six excruciating kilometers in the light but constant rain.  Now, though, my stomach will not stop rumbling.  It gurgles and turns over on itself and it seems to me that the bricks holding this building together have no moarter between them, but only wind.  Somehow, I am still sweating.  The elderly wooden bunks groan with each move I make and it is causing  minute sways in the bunk above me.  I think about the daunting walk  through the unpaved courtyard between me and the outhouse.  I cannot take it anymore; I spend the next two hours recreating the scene from Bridesmaids.

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I wake up with a crook in my neck, a very empty stomach, and an audience of fellow pilgrims who also want to use the bathroom.  I hastily pack my things and hide in the dormitory as I wait for everyone to leave in hopes of avoiding the “Oh, I am so sorry you are sick, but stay away from me I don’t want to catch it” conversation.  (I still get a few anyway.)  There is a fork in the road and where I would usually choose the road less traveled, this time I choose the one with the next town only three kilometers away.  I need Pepto and coffee and toast, stat.

My reputation on the Camino, or so I have heard, is that of a surprisingly fast and determined walker.  This is making the extra two hours recuperating at the too trendy coffee shop much more personally tormenting.  The marble and stainless steal sinks and ultra chic beige and grey decor, which I would usually adore, are just a really bad joke compared to last nights fiasco.  I dick around on my phone – responding to some well meaning emails from friends and family that I have ignored, procuring plane tickets back to Paris for the dreaded end of the hike.  I cannot think of any other reason not to get going, so I finish and refill my water bottles and head out the door.  I begin to head the wrong direction – in the futile attempt of saving a kitten being chased by a Corgi – and a crotchety old man, complete with cane and fedora yells to me “Peregrino!  Peregrino!  Camino!” He is avidly pointing the opposite direction to the very clearly marked trail.  The kitten will stay and I will go less than half of my usual distance today.  So is the Camino.




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