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DAY 5: Blood, Sweat and Smiles!

The day’s early morning indigo light danced in through the mahogany window panes that were situated to our right. I rubbed my bloodshot eyes and looked around. White bunk beds surrounded us and all were empty. I shook my head in disbelief. It was 7 am, the earliest time we had awoken to begin the Camino yet and nearly all our fellow walkers had already left. The accommodation, reserved only for Peregrinos / Camino walkers, had been full to the brim last night but now seemed empty, lifeless, deserted.

I forced myself to eat a banana and a few dried prunes all washed down with some sugary orange juice for breakfast. I wasn’t feeling hungry and my ears and eyes were aching, the remnants of a bad night’s sleep. However, as we stepped out the door of our previous night’s abode, the ghost-like cool mist seemed to wash away the internal burning and I felt re-energised. For the first time in 6 days I felt like I could do this walk all the way and do it well. The first couple of kilometres flew past with the sudden realisation that the reason why it had been taking us 9 -11 hours a day to complete the day’s walk was because we failed to start early and we now vowed with our new found vitality to rise with the sun for the rest of The Way.

The only thing that threatened to destroy the joyous mood that had inhabited us was when about an hour and a half into our walk we came across a small farmhouse built and decorated in the beautiful Basque style. It was here that a small and fluffy charcoal and white dog emerged, having managed to escape the fence that kept it enclosed for a little while. As it began to pass us, we moved to the right allowing it enough space to proceed on our left. It was here and now that the dog suddenly lost its cute and calm demeanour and raced at me with such a force that I lay rooted to one spot in shock. Snarling ferociously, it sank its little white teeth into my ankle, the only bit of bare skin that it could reach. I screamed mostly for the shock of it rather than the pain that was now pulsing through my entire body. I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened and instead the tears and blood began to flow. Dad lost his temper at the dog, but it had sneakily skulked back under the fence into his kennel and was now unreachable. Mum patched me up with some homeopathic antiseptic spray and band-aids. My distress subsided soon after and we moved onwards slowly picking up our pace once again. Even though I was a little upset I knew one thing for sure; this incident had not put me off dogs and I still desperately want to have one of my own when the time is right!

Our smiles returned as we continued onwards at a good pace, unknowingly beating our kilometres/hour records with each step we took. The countryside held stunning vistas as we crossed across mountain ridges into new valleys and views. It really looked as if we were in Northern Europe in some part of Switzerland and not in Spain. We marvelled in wonder as it was like stepping through the framed barriers and into the colourful rainbows of a painting. We made sure we had a nice view before stopping for a picnic lunch of corn-thins, avocado and grilled capsicums near a natural spring water fountain. It was just as I was polishing off the final bits of my meal that I glanced down at my Vivo-Fit and realised that we had just broken a major record of our own. We had come halfway in this day’s walk in just a mere three hours! Not 5 or 6 but 3! This achievement called for a little happy dance before our backpacks boarded us once again and we set off along the path. The sly sun came creeping out from behind the thick clouds making the sweat start to drip down our backs at a rapid pace.

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Hiking the Camino del Norte

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Basque Country Kiwi Fruit

 

A few hours later we were covered in our own perspiration as the sun reached its highest point in the now clear blue sky. Our final destination, the town of Markina-Xemein, was just down below us in a pretty little valley and all the blood and sweat couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces. It was only Day 4 of walking and I could already feel the word impossible being wiped from my vocabulary. It was turning out just like Dad and Mum had said. My parents had participated in another test of strength and endurance when I had been just 5 and along for the ride. They loved to kayak and so in 2006 they had taken on the Murray Marathon, a 5 day, 404 Kilometre paddle, that stretched across the Murray River in Australia. Dad had said that the first three days were incredibly hard and a real test of mental and physical resolve, but by the fourth day, you were basically unstoppable and as we made it into our accommodation for the night at 3:00pm, a full 6 hours earlier than last time, I certainly felt unstoppable.

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