Posted by: givney42 | September 28, 2010

Lots of prayer and frustration

43 miles left to go to Santiago. I won’t believe I’m there till I get there. I hope to go to Finnisterra. The end of the world. Or least the beginning of the Atlantic ocean. After yesterdays walk of 40k to find a bed, Nigel is worn out. My knee is giving out with each step when going down hill. The feet are bandaged well, thanks to the Red Cross. 

It amazes me in a country that reports to be progressive, they are still so very far behind when it comes to disability rights and laws. In the Provence of Galicia where we are now, the laws have changed so that all service/assistance and guide dogs have public access rights. However no one even enforces the laws so people still turn many away. While walking to the church here in Palas De Rei, a woman who clearly was using a guide dog (not me), was turned away from entering. Shehas the white cane and all. I too was about to be turned away but I put up a fuss and told them to call the police if they wanted me out. The church secretary relented and let me in so that I could light a candle for my mom, (which I have been doing at each church or cathedral I see). 
I just don’t understand why I or anyone who clearly uses a dog to mitigate a need has to put up such a fight. You would think it is the 1960’s and yet even then some of these same rules were in place then. 

I guess I worry that I’d this is what the rest of the world believes is progressive action towards disability rights…I’m afraid. 

Posted by: givney42 | September 26, 2010

The Joy of walking once again

Sunday and heading back on the camino is such a nice feeling. Though I wish I could start where I left off, I have decided it is best to work on completion of the last 100k. I figure that since I have walked from Madrid to Ponferrada that counts enough. So am taking the train from Sahagun to Lugo. Would have started in Sarria but I am getting in so late that finding a bed would be difficult to impossible. I have been able to find a hotel in lugo that is dog friendly so will rest my head and feet there and take the bus, or train to Sarria in the morning. And walk a few miles and find a place to rest. 

Normally folks complete the last 100k in 6-7 days. I have decided to go slower and stop by mid day when possible. That way to find a municipal albergue and rest the feet. Will see how well this plan works. 

Nigel has done remarkably well. Yesterday, he and Ona the dog went to the open fields and had such a wonderful time playing. Now as I write, they are laying in the livingroom together with Tim the other house dog. It is a wonderful way to end my stay at the Peaceable Kingdom. 

So the adventure will continue.

Posted by: givney42 | September 25, 2010

Market day.

Sitting outside a cafe in Sahagun on a sunny Saturday late morning. Watching the people going to the open air market.  The smells of the peppers, cheeses, salted cod. Such colors from the multitude of scarves, leather handbags, and veggies.  The sounds of people meeting up after a week a way. Catching up on all the news that is to be had. The men stroll with their walking canes in hand, head towards the bar for a drink while the women shop. All together on a small street in Sahagun. The people will meet again on Sunday but in a more formal affair, church. 

Posted by: givney42 | September 24, 2010

Einstein and the Camino

It amazes me how one loses time while on the camino. I’ve spoken to others who feel the same experience. Each day you get up, pack your bag and start to walk following the yellow arrows and or scallop shells that mark the path. When you get tired you look for the next town you are to come through an hope they have a cafe or bar. Then start to walk again. As the day light starts to wain you look for a place to rest your head and feet for the night. Then as the sun starts to rise you do it all over again. 

The idea of what the date or what actual time it is does not seem to matter on the camino. Even those who live here day in and day out always say, “mañana”, “tomorrow”. But it appears that tomorrow means different things to others. 
For example, Patrick has been waiting for the repaired stove top to arrive from the repair shop. The person who is to bring it keeps saying, “tomorrow”, yet with each passing day it does not arrive. And this is how the cycle goes. 

So as my feet start to feel better and heal, I tell myself, “tomorrow I will start back up the camino”. And when tomorrow arrives, I will see…

Posted by: givney42 | September 23, 2010

Thoughts from the bedroom.

Day three of staying off my feet and they are healing! I am feeling better each day about my decision to listen not only to my gut but to others and come to the Peaceable Kingdom. Not only has my body needed the rest, my mind has needed it as well. 

When I first started on the camino, I told myself I would not rush, and yet I could feel inside that, that is exactly what I was doing. I may not have been doing it physically but as I reflect back, I was doing it emotionally. I think that is one of the reasons the blisters came on so quickly and massive. It was my bodies way of not only saying to slow down you old sod! But slow down your mind as well.  Apparently I am not always a good listener.  And it has taken this stopping, literally in my tracks to help not only slow my body enough to heal, but my mind as well so as to take in what I have seen and experienced along the camino. 

Today is the first day I have been able to go without bandage and gauze on my feet. To stand up without the flash of white light in my eyes from the pain.  Last week my feet started to feel like this and then I pushed it and started to walk again. This time I need to listen more carefully and wait till all parts of the blisters are healed and ready before starting the trek once again.  I’m hoping it is soon as I don’t wish to to burden others. I am hoping that in another day or so my feet will be ready to start again. 

This time from Sarria. It may take me 11 days or 7 days. Either way I will do what my body and gut feel is best for them. I only hope that when this journey in Spain is over that I not forget the lessons learned and that I carry them over into my work-a-day life as well. 

Posted by: givney42 | September 22, 2010

Wet feet and learning

Soaking my feet in cool salt water. It is suppose to help the blisters dry out and heal a bit quicker so they say. I say it burns like all heck but if it will help, so be it. It reminds me a lot of my great grandmother’s cold remedy. Whiskey, lemon juice, honey and hot water. Mix all together and head straight for the covers, to sweat it out. Oddly I’ve used this technique many times and it has worked. So I hope the salty cold water will also work. 

Nigel is not too happy being confined at the Peaceable Kingdom, but for his and the other dogs, it is best. It becomes a bit of a dance around here move Nigel from bedroom to backyard, while other dogs wait in the front yard to move inside. Nigel has not really put up much of a fuss but whines here and there. He likes the greyhounds, chickens, cat, Bob the bird and Tim the dog. But Ona the dog barks a lot which seems to really disturb him. He becomes very nervous and tries to get away. So since this is Ona’s home, I feel it is best for Nigel to have some alone time. But I am certain he would think otherwise. 

I am feeling much better in spirit and in body at this place. I know this break is necessary for me, but waiting is truly one of my growing edges. And one I get to work on whether I want to or not. 

So here I sit soaking my feet and learning patiences….oh to continue to learn.

Posted by: givney42 | September 21, 2010

At the Peaceable Kingdom of Spain

Today we have arrived at the Peaceable Kingdom in Moratinos. Nigel did not start off with a good greeting, but that is mainly due to my not feeling well. He has been really keeping a tight eye on things with my feet. After the unexpected night in Palencia, I’m happy to report I and Nigel are able to stay with Patrick and Kim till my feet are better. Rebekah is away till the weekend, she is on the camino. 

It truly is lovely here and to be with people who I have only met on a camino forum to welcome myself and Nigel in with such openness and generosity, it humbles one down to ones core. 

So till I am able to walk again Nigel and I will be sharing a lovely space with two greyhounds, two stray dogs, one cat, a bird, nine chickens and at this time two people and possibly three if I am still here on the weekend. 

Posted by: givney42 | September 21, 2010

Trusting the process…has a whole new meaning.

Monday Nigel and I did find the train station in Ponderrada. A small miracle in itself as it is not well marked and not in town. We caught a train back to Leon and another that the conductor said was going to Sahagun. I think in the dark it was 9:00pm here, I know the stop was missed at least by me it was. Nigel and I ended up in Palencia.

When riding the train back to Leon. I could see the mountain range we had just taken 2-3 days to cross. I cried at the thought that I may be quitting. I don’t want to!!! I just need time for my feet to heal. My friend who has the place outside Sahagun is back walking the camino so I can not reach her, so I have sent email to her spouse telling him of offer. I hope to hear from him. I know they do not mind people dropping in, but it is not something I’m comfortable with. 

At 10:30pm in the dark of a town I’ve never been in, I thought… “okay God, Howard, whomever is in charge do what you want. I’m in pain, but leave Nigel out of this. He needs a place to rest.” 

Thanking the Gods after, a dingy little hotel was found by the help of some locals who I know were put in the right place at the right time. 

Nigel slept, I did as well after tending to feet. And decided in the morning to start again. 

So it is now morning in Palencia, Nigel always wakes up happy. I am going to do my new morning ritual of tending to my feet and we will go back to Sahagun and hope for the best. And as my very dear friend Jane Anne would say,”trust the process.”

Posted by: givney42 | September 19, 2010

So close and yet feeling so far.

It has been a very challenging day. Last night Nigel and I stayed at a municipal albergue. These are pilgrim hotsels that are only available to those who are making the trek to Santiago. They were very kind, even offered to cook rice for Nigel. I found him a kilo of hamburger and he was a happy dog.  Though he does have a new found favorite in jambon and queso bocodillos. 

Today we started off from Rabanal planning to stay at the Parosh run albergue in Foncebadon because the day would be spent going up hill with a near 700 meter incline. It was a beautiful day. Sunny not too hot in the morning. Once in Foncebadon, the volunteer at the albergue told me there was a bed available, but not for 2 hours. Nigel rested while I worked on my worsening blisters. At 2pm the volunteer arrived and said that he changed his mind and Nigel was not allowed. I gave him the note from ONCE and Nigel’s papers showing he is a certified dog. The volunteer said No, and that was it. We spent the next 4-5 hours climbing to the next village. This time, Nigel could stay but he would have to be outside with the owners dogs who while I was walking up, had already met, and sadly had to whack them with my walking stick as they tried to take on Nigel. So…more climbing then decent to next town, Acebo. Same thing. So we walked 16 miles more than I had wished and much more than my feet could handle. 

Nigel and I ran into a person we had walked with in Sahagun and found a hostel. Again the owner was not going to allow us to stay but I guess I looked as bad as I feel and for double the price she allowed us to have a room. She never showed me the bathroom, but at this point I don’t care. 

I’ve been keeping a close eye on Nigel’s paws and pads and he is doing very well. I’ve been putting “musher’s secret” on his feet ever night and it has been helping. He wakes up and is ready
to run while I limp along. Due to the extra miles my feet was worse than ever. I’m going to rest them tonight and see what happens. I am so close to ending this. It just makes me cry to thing of quitting. Nigel and I have come so far to end this within 200 km is hard. I do have a person I know back outside Sahagun who runs a hostel and she has offered her home as a rest for Nigel and I. Then once better to take the train back to Ponferrada or to Sarria. I’ll check with her tomorrow to see if the offer is still good. 

I guess I’m feeling really discouraged right now. I’ll sleep on it and see what goes. 

Posted by: givney42 | September 15, 2010

Lessons from the city.

Tuesday was a pretty productive day. I’m very happy to have been able to get out of the hotel and into town. Bought the necessary items needed to continue blister healing and a different pair of sandals to switch into when not able to walk in boots. 

Leon is a busy, chaotic city. One minute the area you are walking along is for pedestrians only, the next cars are allowed to zoom past at a feverish pace.  Nigel and I did go to the cathedral and it is as beautiful inside as people have said it is. We only stayed for a short while as a volunteer who most have been having a very bad day was trying to kick us out because I had Nigel with me. I showed him the note from ONCE the organization that is primary for guide dogs. Nigel is registered with them for this trip. However the volunteer didn’t want to either see, read or hear it. I asked for his supervisor as the volunteer was becoming more loud and enraged. When I asked for this then started to push me. I could see Nigel just waiting for the command to go after this guy. I must say, when Nigel needs to listen, he does it very well. Finally the supervisor came over, read the note, apologized profusely and put the volunteer in his place. Overall, I really wish that did not have to happen. I could tell it made many feel uncomfortable including myself. 

I am seeing a lot more of how people get stuck in their own perception of what a guide/service dog is. It is much more apparent here. That if you don’t look the part it must not be real. In the cities those who check train, bus, ticket and other public areas seem to be the worst for being caught in the cycle of, “if it don’t look the part it is not”.  While in the smaller towns and villages things are a bit more relaxed. I know where I feel best in. 

And if nothing else is learned from this journey, not to judge by what you think your eyes see, is a big lesson. The other for me, is to see what help can be done to help start bringing awareness to other places, countries the special gifts dogs can bring to those  with different abilities. 

Tomorrow, we are finally out of Leon and on our way to Astorga. It will be good to be walking again. 

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