Thursday, June 21, 2012
Radicofone to Acquapendente
Ritual is a great thing when it actually serves the people it is intended for, but when it is a ritual for the sake of a ritual, then it isn't so great. Such was the case at the Albergue of the Confraternita di san Jacabo di Compostella. Ok, it was kind of fun to have some cold water splashed on my foot and so on, but it didn't end there. They also had a ritual about breakfast around the table at 0700 and then standing in a circle touching hands and a blessing for a send off. This didn't really work for me or for Sylvia. We were wide awake at 0530 and ready to take off. The forecast was for more hot weather and I didn't want to get scalded again like yesterday. We tried to make a quiet exit but the Hospitalero boys were soon up and tried to ply us with coffee and breakfast before we left. I gave an emphatic no and explained that I was trying to avoid sunstroke, but after about the 5th request, Sylvia relented because she didn't want to offend them.
As I made my way out of town this morning, one of the Hospitaleros caught up to me and insisted that he see me off at the crossroads. This was very nice of him, but it made feel like a big stronzo, as I knew he would be repeating this again with the others - it is all part of their ritual. But aside from making me feel bad, it made me think about how I am feeling in this extreme weather and what I want the next week or so to look like. My feet and I have definitely reached my maximum tolerance for sun, but provided the feet continue to cooperate a little (the blisters are multiplying), I have decided try and finish, and just 'slow my roll' a little with shorter days, and starting as early as I can. Tomorrow is 22 km, perfectly manageable, even in 42 degrees, provided it isn't on the tarmac.. The next few days after that will be 16, 20 and then 28 km. After that, 24 and the last day at 16 km. If I stick to this plan, I will arrive in Rome on the 27th or 28th at the latest.
Slowing down will mean saying goodbye to my little family, but I am learning to recognize and honor my limitations, and I just can't keep up with them in this heat. I hope we can all meet again in Rome. In the meantime, we are installed at a convento here in Acquapendente. It is a little off the beaten track up a country road, but at least it is quiet and we all have our own rooms tonight!
The walk today was mixed gravel and tarmac with some shade, but mostly exposed. It seems like the last few km of the day are always a steep ascent on tarmac..a seemingly cruel end to an already difficult day. We were fairly melting as we approached the town of Acquapendente, which in contrast to recent places we have stayed, appears to be significantly lacking in charm.
At least today my hands did not resemble surgical glove balloons. I met Sylvia about halfway through the day and she gave me her walking sticks to try for keeping the swelling down, and they seemed to work. I think they are the answer in this weather (either that or no walking at all), so if I see a walking stick store I will invest. Also, thanks to all the folks who wrote me about keepijg swelling down!! I am going to try eating a lot more bananas!
Gisella and Joel went back to town about 4pm, but neither Sylvia or I had the energy to make our way back down into the town to forage for food, so we raided the cupboards here in the convento kitchen and had a fine meal of pasta, tinned peas and corn with tuna and melon for dessert. I did t even really feel like eating, but I had no lunch so it was important to eat something. As it is, my pants are hanging on me and if things keep going the way they are, I will likely need a belt to keep them up before the week is out (a happy bi-product of a lot of exercise in extreme temperatures, and one of the things that helps me keep my sense of humor about it)!