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DAY 29: Bridge to Ribadeo

The tangy scent of the sea coming from the stunning coastline rides the cool breeze of the morning and provides an invigorating refreshment to the senses. The lush green mountains that dot the hilly landscape tie the breathtaking painting together in a remarkable way. I am tingly with excitement at the achievement we made possible when we left the Albergue at dark, before the sun’s first breath. We had managed to leave before the clock struck seven at an impressive 6:59am. Our earliest start time yet on our Camino had been conquered! This certain triumph sped us along the blue paved paths out of  La Caridad, on the final 23 km in the Asturias, propelling us out, unintentionally, to the foaming mouth of the ocean, toward Ribadeo and a new region of Spain – Galicia.

Asturias to Galicia

I imagined with a smile the elderly sitting in their creaking rocking chairs watching the Camino walkers go by, but now, the shooting golden rays of the sunrise illuminated the deserted wooden porches, the slowly rusting metal work and the outline of the chestnut coloured terracotta roofs.

It was about 3 kilometres (1.8 Miles) down the wrong path that we realised we had taken a misguided turn, no thanks to the sprouting mounds that were the Camino’s shell signs. We stood literally in the middle of nowhere, next to a seemingly empty farmhouse whose front gate looked as if it had been built centuries ago. Our raised voices must have attracted some form of life, as the next thing we knew the rotting gate was creaking open and a young man was giving us directions. We also found out that our mishap hadn’t caused any extra kilometres to be added on and instead, we would be treated to the scenic route!

 

Tapia 1

Tapia 2

 

Soon the small town of Tapia appeared before us and we crossed through a large corn field to reach it. Making our way through the peaceful city, just as it began to wake, we found our way out to the coastal walk where we sat down onto a large wooden bench and began to eat our breakfast. We pulled out from our rucksacks tortillas de Española, (traditional Spanish potato omelettes), fruits, cookies and juice and feasted. We observed people on their morning walk; an eager dog dragging his master along at breakneck pace.

 

Tapia 3

 

Leaving Tapia, we entered back out into the wilderness of the silent countryside and I noticed Lalika grimacing silently in pain. He was limping slightly and walked off balance. When I asked if he was alright, he replied with a strained smile and an assurance that didn’t assure me in the slightest. “I’m fine!” he cried exasperated when my parents asked if he was ok with worried frowns. We continued on but we all knew that everything wasn’t peachy.

Dad tried to lighten the mood getting us to sing Harry Belafonte’s version of the Banana Boat Song Dayo. We were changing Dayo to Riba-Day-O, because it was Ribadeo that we were heading to. This belongs to the unique and crazy things you come up with on the Camino to spur you along the path, especially when you are feeling the strain. We managed to get a few laughs out of it and the verse about the Black Tarantula distracted Lalika for a while as we came up upon a beach.

My brother Lalika has great fortitude and an incredibly high tolerance for pain. When I noticed a small streaming tear running down his face, I knew he must have been in a huge amount of pain. After a drink of cold water purchased from a kiosk at the beach, Lalika insisted we push on. For the first time on the walk, I was really worried about him. For the last day or two he had been dragging his left foot along the path with every step and now, just putting the slightest weight on it was causing him shooting pangs of pain that were markedly visible of his face, even though he walked on in silence. I was about to cry seeing him suffer, with such a demoralised but determined effort to finish.

 

Arriving in Ribadeo Galicia

Crossing the Bridge to Ribadeo

 

By the time we began to cross the large 600 meter long bridge that took us across from the province of the Asturias to Galicia, it was evident that Lalika was not ‘ok’. He dragged his foot gingerly across the long metal walkway as the clear blue waters of the ocean beneath us churned. The tourists riding far below us in a boat painted with a smiling duck on it waved. We arrived in the city of  Ribadeo and made our way to the Albergue where we were greeted by an unsmiling fellow pilgrim who told us the hostel was ‘Completo’. “No matter, we’ll just set up our tents!” and we proceeded to do so. Passers-by looked on curiously as our homes for the night popped up in seconds. Then we turned our attention to more important matters.

 

View of our tents from Ribadeo Albergue

 

When Lalika took off his shoe and sock we all turned a shade whiter. His foot was swollen to the size of a child’s helium balloon and it hurt at the slightest touch. Immediately Dad ran up to the town to seek ice for an ice-bath for his foot, while Mum and I tried to make Lalika more comfortable and make sure he was not moving about. After the excruciating pain of the ice-bath was over and we rested, we came to terms with the fact that we would have to go to town for supplies.

Tents set up at Ribadeo Albergue

We made the 1 km trek up to the old town. It was not a long walk but we made every effort to try and stop Lalika from weight bearing on his painful foot. Following the unmistakable and delicious scent of Pizza, we found our way to an Italian restaurant and sat down to eat. Later on, we realised we were faced with the dilemma of not being able to buy any supplies, because it was Galicia Day and that everything would be closed tomorrow too, as it would be Sunday. We found the only store that was open, a tiny deli on a quiet street corner, and bought what we could.

Returning back to our tents at the Ribadeo Albergue, we got ready for sleep with the knowledge that Lalika’s foot didn’t look any better. Turning off the single flickering light of the torch, we fell asleep uncertain of our way ahead.

4 Thoughts to DAY 29: Bridge to Ribadeo

  1. […] DAY 29: Bridge to Ribadeo […]

  2. nagymama says:

    Draga unokaim Lalikam es Rekicam, mar elmondtatok ezt az esetet nekem de most amikor olvasom elsirtam magam,hogy mennyire sajnaltam a Lalikat a laba miatt es te Rekicam hogy sajnaltad a draga ikertesodat. Nagyon aterzem minden szavadat minden mondatodat!! -a ti nagymamikatok

  3. Dj says:

    That sounds painful. Are you okay? What happened?

    • Hi Dj,
      I’m sorry it took me this long to reply. We have been on the road the last eight weeks or so with my book tour and it has been difficult to get all things in order.
      My sincere apologies. Yes, at this point in the Camino, this was a real low point for all of us. Most especially for my brother Lalika, who had imagined that we would do the entire Camino continuously without any breaks. It was perhaps why the injury flared up the way it did. He had, for days, concealed his pain. Because his shoes were already worn down, about a week before Ribadeo, he had developed a severe case of Plantar Fasciitis, the inflammation of the ligaments in the foot. He didn’t share with us, that every morning, getting out of bed, he had to spend about ten minutes just slowly putting weight on his foot, just enough to bear the pain so that he would be able to walk on it. By the time we were approaching Ribadeo, every step he had to take was so incredibly painful, he was holding back tears. It was only when it was beyond bearing and his foot was the size of a balloon, that he really shared with us how painful it was. This was the hardest for all of us, to see him in such pain. On reflection however, it also was a great opportunity for us to learn things about ourselves, for Lalika to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t at all a failure not to complete the Camino without a few days’ break and a great opportunity for us to make some very dear new friends. Most poignantly however, it gifted us the opportunity to essentially reflect on just how spectacular an experience walking the Camino is. You see, you don’t often get that perspective when you are immersed in the daily walk and this extra time to reflect, gave us such an appreciation for how amazing and life invigorating the experience is. People don’t often experience this until after they have completed the walk and had the time to reflect. In a way, this was our time to reflect and I can say for certain, without having experienced this in Ribadeo, we would have been left without the opportunity to live in the moment of that realisation as it was happening. Subsequently, those last eight days presented us with such a gift of being able to keep ourselves in the moment and sincerely appreciate ever step we took, all the way to Santiago de Compostela.

      My warmest regards to you Dj,
      Réka

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