The Road to Santiago.

October 25, 2004

Photo of Iglesia de Soto Luina.
Iglesia de Soto Luina

Soto de Luiña to Cadavedo

I had a terrible night. About an hour after I fell asleep, I was jolted awake with calambres (cramps) in my forearms and my right thigh. When I fell, I must have pulled my thigh muscle. The cramps in my arms were irritating but the pain in my leg was the most severe I’ve ever experienced. And that includes injuries obtained during my 14 years of playing rugby. Fortunately, I was able to contort my body into a position where the pain was bearable. Eventually, I fell back to sleep. I was glad I was alone in the albergue. My screams would have alarmed my bunkmates.

I was supposed to leave the keys across from the albergue at a different bar from whence I picked them up. So I decided to have breakfast there.

While eating breakfast, a man came up to me and started talking about the camino. El sendero en el monte es muy malo. (The path in the mountain is very bad.). You’re telling me! Next year, he assured me they were going to make it limpio (clean). I’m not holding my breath. He then told me that, leaving Soto de Luiña, not to take the path over the mountain but to stay on the highway.

The mountain was my problem — road or path. My leg was still hurting. I asked him if there was an autobus stop in town. I wanted to take it over the mountain to the next village and start walking from there. He told me where to wait for the bus and checked his schedule. He then said that en Cadavedo, hay una albergue nueva. (In Cadaveda, there is a new albergue.) That became my objective for the day.

My blood glucose was high that morning — 173 mg/dl. This high reading would seem surprising to a new diabetic. My blood glucose was 100 at mealtime last night. I ate very little yesterday and had quite a bit of exercise (under­statement). Then why was the reading high at breakfast? My answer would be stress. The episode in the night was very stressful. My experience has been that during periods of high stress my blood sugar shoots right up. I think that it is a part of the “flight or fight” response that physiologists describe. Blood pressure and adrenaline rise in response to stress or the threat of stress. They should include a rise in glucose in their studies.

As I was heading for the bus stop, I met a young man traveling by bike. His name was Corey and he was recently living in Oregon, but his family was from Kansas. He had spent the last couple of months traveling through Spain when he heard about el camino. He took el Camino Norte because he didn’t want to climb the Pyrenees mountains. I asked him what he thought about the mountains in the Asturias. From the expression on his face, I knew that the trip hasn’t been a ride in the park. He said that when the road is too steep, he pushes the bike. I gave him my name and Web address, asked him to email me when he got to Santiago, and wished him a buen camino.

The bus was actually on time. A couple of kilometers outside of town the bus began climbing up to the alto (the heights, i.e., top). I looked out to my right and saw Corey pushing his bike.

Photo of protest sign.
The walk to Cadavedo was quite pleasant. It was a rural area with farms. Apparently, some people didn’t want it to stay that way. I kept seeing green flags and signs that said No! But no to what? I then had my answer: ¡No al plan urbanistico! Urbanization is what they call a housing development which consists of a series of multi-story apartment buildings. I don’t blame the people: such urbanization is generally unattractive and requires a fair amount of new infrastructure.
Photo of a lumberyard.

I passed a local lumberyard.

Soon I found the bar where the keys for the albergue in Cadaveda were kept. A little way down the road, I spotted Corey asking for directions. I stopped and told him where he could get his credencial stamped. I then mentioned the new albergue and suggested he stop, rest, and have a hot shower.

Well, new is a relative term. The place may have been new as an albergue, but it was an old house that was being renovated. There were new beds and the place was recently painted. There was even a new hot water heater. Unfortunately, it had not been hooked up yet. There wouldn’t be hot showers that night.

Corey did stop by and decided to spend the night in a real bed instead of on the ground. I think that maybe it was more for the companionship because we sat and talked for a long time. It was strange — having an extended conversation in English. I had been speaking Spanish with only an occasional smattering of English for the past month.

Photo of Corey with his new tent.
Corey's new home

In one of the rooms, I found a package that turned out to be a tent. And a new tent at that. Apparently it had never been used. Corey commented that it was better than the one he had. I told him that he ought to take it. It’s a tradition that pilgrims leave things that they no longer want for others who might be able to use them. He set it up in the backyard and really liked it. I assured him that it was okay. (At least I thought it was okay.) He packed up his old tent and left it for the next pilgrim.

That night, I went to the bar where there was a comedor (dining room). It was 8:30 and the comedor wouldn’t open until nine. So I sat reading the newspapers and watching television — the Discovery Channel was showing something about the jungle in Central America. By the time I finally returned to the albergue, Corey had gone to bed. 

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