Camigas to the Rescue

It was a rough day today. In the top three of my roughest Camino days ever.

In the first hours, while still in Pamplona, I sat down on a park bench while my knee burned searing fire and asked myself if perhaps this was not a good idea. Jeff has been with me at the hotel in Pamplona for the past three days. Supplying frozen peas and other farmacia accoutrement. As needed. He kissed me goodbye this morning with a hearty ‘Buen Camino’, took the keys from the valet and headed towards the autovía and home.

In the car are all the extras I found I don’t need. Except Jeff. I always need him.

Sitting on that bench, I had a decision to make. Push forward or pull the rip cord. I chose to give it more than an hour. And take a bunch of paracetamol. The farmacia said I could take up to 4g per 24 hours. So 4g at 8 am seemed like a good idea.

Then I stood up, gathered myself and hobbled on down the road. A lovely French couple introduced themselves and our conversation took my mind off things. Soon we were climbing, and climbing and climbing. In the heat, with no shade. Its Sunday. Not an open cafe in sight.

Two water fountains before Alto de Perdon. But I was out of water when I reached the summit. Then the downhill began.

My knee balked right away. It was a mile and a half descent on round river rock. Like skateboarding. I tried walking backwards to relieve the pressure but it was too harrowing. The pain was unbearable, but what choice did I have? And zero shade.

What should have taken less than an hour took two. As I crested the hill into Uterga I was crying but had no tears left. It had been hours since I had water. And it was in the 30’s.

Before the town is a little shrine to the Virgin Mary, surrounded by trees and shade. I sat down. Or sort of fell down. My tank was totally and completely empty. If you offered me a million dollars to get up and walk into Uterga I would have passed.

Two women approached me and asked if I was OK. In American english. I started crying but it just soumded like a bark. I shook my head. I was so shaky. And I couldn’t really answer them. They gave me water and electrolytes. And some kind of food bar. They took off my pack and poured water down my back.

After 10 minutes I was better. The electrolytes did their work. Then I noticed their Camigas patches. I have that patch on my old REI pack. It’s a group of International women who walk the Camino. It was a group formed when Denise, a woman who worked at the same company I did in Phoenix, was tragically killed on the Camino in 2015. And at the very moment I needed them, two Camigas showed up and helped with the perfect remedy. How? I don’t know. They stayed until I was better.

‘You got this.’ Smiled Kim, the Australian/North Carolinian, patting me on the shoulder.

I wish I could remember the other person’s name. Angels for sure. Both wished me a Buen Camino.

I’m at an Albergue in Uterga now. Cold showers on hot days cures all. My out loud prayers today with dry chapped lips, as I navigated the rocks ‘Please God, help me.’ Were heard. In the best possible way. Tomorrow is another day. And i think I got this.

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