CDHi President’s Blog – Walking on the Camino Ingles for CDH – April 10, 2024

April 10, 2024 – Presedo to A Rua, Spain

Day 10 on the Camino Inglés route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. 10 days already! I’m so slow at this.

Last night I stayed in Presedo in a hostel. Presedo is a tiny little town that’s mostly just a crossroads.

I was told that I couldn’t make reservations for that hostel and that I just had to show up and call the number on the door, so I left early enough to show up fairly early there (about 3 o’clock) and I called the number on the door. Thankfully, the manager spoke English, and he told me that the door was unlocked and that he would be there at 8 o’clock to collect the €7 cost of the bed from everyone.

So I walked into the hostel and there were already three backpacks on three beds and someone asleep on another one. There were seven bunk beds; that was 14 beds, and I picked the bottom bunk of one that wasn’t chosen yet. Then I went outside so I wouldn’t wake up the person that was sleeping.

I set up my office on the picnic table and I worked for about two hours until three other pilgrims came in and they tried the door and it was locked. They saw me sitting in the back and introduced themselves: Americans from Texas who spoke fluent English and Spanish. A brother, a sister, and the brother’s wife were in Spain because that is where the father was from. He had recently died and they were paying tribute to him by walking the Camino from Ferrol, where the father was from. It was really touching. Very nice people.

It seemed like the person who was sleeping in the room had left, and the door closed so then we were all locked out.

But a half hour later she came back. She must’ve had the key, so she let us in, and everyone set up their beds.

In Spain, dinner doesn’t start until about 8 o’clock at night following a siesta during the day, leading to a long lunch break before everything shuts down and reopens later, staying open very late, which is typical across much of Europe. Having walked all day, staying up late isn’t feasible for me.

I ventured to the restaurant, which had limited options available. Among them, two Texans were already dining, faced with the choice between cold tortilla and hot macaroni and cheese. Opting for the hot macaroni and cheese, shaped like seashells to match the Camino theme, I found it pretty good. I ate, received my Camino stamp, and then returned to the bunk bed.

Attempting to charge my electronics, I faced the frustration of intermittent electricity, which persisted until cutting out entirely around midnight. Despite the 35°F night temperature, the body heat of so many people in the bunk room prevented it from becoming cold until the early hours. Limited by the power outage, we couldn’t charge our phones or see to shower, compounding the difficulty as we all had items needing power. Thus, everyone retired early, long before the sun went down.

We woke early, disturbed by the three men from Madrid who, equipped with flashlights, departed before dawn, leaving the Texans, the Brazilian lady with her wheeled backpack, and myself. She regularly used a taxi service to transport her backpack to the next hostel, a popular option I’ve considered but resisted, preferring to bear my belongings in the traditional pilgrim manner. Despite the high altitudes ahead and my deliberation, I’ve maintained carrying my gear, adhering to the old-fashioned way.

So everyone left before me. The manager asked the last person to lock up with the key, deposit the key in the lockbox, and make sure that everything was closed up. The power still wasn’t on as of this morning, so the coffee machine didn’t work, the vending machine didn’t work, and no one was able to take showers unless they took them before the power went off yesterday, which was frustrating. I was the last one out the door, and when I left, the sun was coming up, so everyone else had been walking in the dark, which I’m not a fan of because I’m already clumsy when I can see where I’m going. All these paths are a little rocky, and I just don’t want to twist my ankle or get hurt; I’d rather see where I’m walking.

I went the kilometer back to the Camino and started walking again, and ended up right beside the restaurant where I ate last night, not knowing it was right behind it. I stopped, walked around the front to see if they were open because I needed coffee badly, and the lady from Brazil, Rejane, was standing there with her luggage because she was waiting to give it to the restaurant. That’s where the Taxi Service picks up the luggage. As I sat there talking to her, the manager arrived and opened up the restaurant.
He spoke English very well, and he also spoke Spanish and Portuguese, and spoke to both of us pretty fluently.

I was able to get coffee and charge my phone a little bit more, get my passport stamps, and was on the way. Rejane and I walked together for most of the day. Her English is much better than my Spanish, and I only know about three words in Portuguese. I’ve been to Brazil, but thankfully Josh Hensley, one of the volunteers at the charity who spoke Portuguese, was very involved with the charity at the time and in the research department with me, went, and he was able to translate everything because I have a hard enough time with Spanish. I just have a really hard time with Portuguese.

Rejane, bless her heart, talks so fast, nonstop, and she’s super sweet, but I couldn’t understand a word she said.

She started slowing down after a while, and I actually understood a lot of what she was saying, and between the both of us trying to understand in three different languages, we had a pretty good conversation. She’s my age, also single, from the northern part of Brazil, and she’s a nurse. Her sister is a neonatologist in Brazil, so she knew exactly what I was talking about with CDH, and we had good conversations. She also has long Covid and she struggles a lot the same way that I do, so we’re both here pushing ourselves on this Camino, dealing with long Covid and determined to finish it. It was very nice to meet someone I have so much in common with, and she was quite lovely.

We walked most of the way together until I got hungry and stopped to get some lunch, and she wanted to go ahead because I was slowing her down. God bless people who are so nice and sweet to walk with, but I know that I’m slow, so I don’t want to hold anyone back. But she was really sweet with me. I broke my backpack trying to take it on and off to take off my hot sweatshirt when it warmed up outside; she fixed it and I learned how to say “I can fix anything” in Portuguese.

I went into the restaurant and got some food. I got a huge sandwich, the biggest I’ve ever seen in my life. I thought it was small in the picture, so I ate half of it and threw the other half in my bag, sat in the restaurant. Lots of people came in, lots of other pilgrims, some spoke English, and I talked to everyone quite a bit. The staff was so sweet; they were handing out free cookies to the pilgrims and discounts on our food, which is pretty typical; the pilgrims get great menu options and a discount rate on the Camino.

I bought a Camino pin, like a hat pin. I have a bunch of pins from different medical conferences and the CDH ribbon pin; I don’t know what to do with any of them. I need a CDH sash, I guess.

I get back on the road and about half an hour in, I see one of the Texas pilgrims sitting in front of a hostel. She yells out, “Oh, you made it!” and I said, “No, I still have 4 miles left” because it’s so hard to get a room at this particular point on the Camino. The hostels fill up really quickly, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it is today. I couldn’t get a bed where I wanted and had to make sure I had somewhere to sleep, so I booked the only thing I could find, which was 4 miles down the road but still on the Camino. So I’m just walking farther on the Camino than them, and the lady from Brazil is also staying there, so all four of them were together again.

I stopped and rested outside, sat on a bench, talked to them for about half an hour about CDH, and they asked for the website address. I got to point out Shane’s picture and all the pictures of the kids.

I’ve been raising a lot of awareness these past three days on the Camino. The German girl yesterday looked at me and goes, “You have babies all over you,” because of my hat and my sweatshirt, and then the waitress today at lunch looked at me and said, “You have children everywhere.” Yes, yes, I do have children everywhere. CDH is so easy to explain to people with a diagram right on my shirt; I can show them the anatomy and then tell them about Shane and the charity, what we’re doing, and doing the walk here.

Every American that I’ve met has wanted to donate, which has been great. And the guys from Madrid, I told them about the Spanish charity because there’s no way I’m going to ask Spanish people to donate to an American charity when there’s an amazing Spanish charity here, so I hope they do.

I said goodbye to them, got back on the road. My feet are starting to hurt; I’ve done a lot today. Another day probably too long, not by choice but because I had to find somewhere to sleep tonight. Thankfully, I didn’t have to leave the Camino to do it, but it’s a lot, and I have a hip starting to hurt a little bit, but mostly right now, my fee. So I’m going to get to the hostel where I’m staying, put my feet up, pull my computer out, and try to stay awake and not pass out from exhaustion because it’s really hot today. Not only am I walking a lot, but I’m also walking in heat. I went from 35°F last night to about 65°F, but there’s no wind today and no clouds really, so it’s just straight heat and walking so far, especially with all these layers and this hot nylon backpack on my back; the air doesn’t flow easily.

I just want a nice shower, to put my feet up, to get caught up on all of the blog posts, charge all the electronics, and then sleep. Tomorrow will be a little bit easier because I’ve gotten 4 miles in today that I wasn’t planning on having. I’m pretty on target, so tomorrow I won’t be walking as much, probably 15 miles, and then tomorrow night should be my last night before I hit Santiago. I’ve made it 2/3 of the way through the Camino today, so I’m officially 2/3 of the way through. Tomorrow morning should be 3/4, and I am now walking on pretty flat terrain. It’s nice, little waves, not climbing up and down. It’s going to be pretty parallel the rest of the way, and if the weather is like this, it’s going to be amazing. Absolutely amazing. The Texans and the Brazilian are going to pick me up in the morning on their way out. I told them it better not be at 6:30 because I won’t be awake.

I often “write” these blog posts while I’m walking. I dictate to my phone and then fix all the dictation errors before I post them on-line. So usually, my day isn’t over as I am writing. I know if I wait until I arrive at lodging, I might be too tired or forget too much to type it all out.

So today, I am “talking” to you as I walk through farm land in very rural northern Spain.

There is a restaurant on the Camino Inglés, where there are lots of statues outside. There’s a huge statue of St. James, and lots of other religious statues. But there’s also a tractor on a roller coaster and a giant dinosaur for some reason, surrounded by really smelly farmland.

At this point, it’s so hot, I’m dying of thirst, so I go in and get a soda. I sit for a minute, drink my soda, and then walk out, forgetting my walking sticks behind.

It wasn’t until an hour later that I realized I left them. I’ve been dictating a lot of work on my phone, doing some praying, and I just didn’t notice they were missing. I noticed they are missing now. I have a day and a half left of walking if I don’t take any breaks, and I’m hoping that my feet and my ankles and my knees can hold out without the walking sticks.

I shouldn’t have said what I said about depending on this sticks so much yesterday!

Honestly, I think karma took the walking sticks because there was a little old man on the sidewalk. He started talking to me, and I couldn’t understand what he was saying, and he had two little wooden walking sticks. He was very nice, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying at all and just smiled at him. And said to have a good day and I walked away. I really wish I could have given him my sticks because I saw him glance at them, and then he’s walking, and I’m walking, and thinking I really should turn around and give him my walking stick.

And then I thought of the other side of the hills, that I may not be able to walk.

Torn, I walked away feeling guilty for not giving him my walking sticks. It really bothered me and I felt very selfish that I didn’t turn back.

So I hope he was walking near that diner, and somehow he gets my walking sticks because that’s how it was supposed to be. But I sure wish I had traded him for his, so at least I would have a walking stick. But I should’ve listened to God when He put it on my heart to give him those sticks.


Just as I am walking and dictating this to my phone so that it can type it out for me, I find a big old walking stick that I can make do with; a branch fell off a tree right in my path! Thank God!

Again, the Camino provides!

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