Two years ago we left Melide in the drizzle after Rob had bought some yummy treats from the bakery next to the albergue. We ate the big buttery croissants at the top of a steep climb.
This time the bakery was closed, but the weather was almost as threatening. The steep climb seemed to have been graded away and we flew up it, overtaking a couple of pilgrims without even trying to! In fact, a few times someone would say, “Oh I remember after this bridge is a climb” or “There’s a big hill into this town”….only to discover that this time the hills seemed like little bumps!
Last time we took an early morning pic at this marker – we had to do the same again today. Then each time we saw somewhere we had taken a break, the kids marvelled at how often we had stopped and they called for another photo in remembrance!
It is encouraging to see the growth of just a couple of years – and perhaps particularly of the past two months. When we arrived, we hoped to manage 15-20km on average, and at that rate we would have been arriving in Santiago in a couple of weeks. As it turned out we have managed much more, and ought to be in Santiago tomorrow. When we thought we would try to not exceed 20km in a day, we did not dream of the girls making it to 1,000km. 800 sounded like a commendable achievement for them. But they are now just over 100km from reaching the thousand.
We have learnt they are much stronger than we would have imagined and they have grown so much. At first, they carried only their clothing, sleep sack, toothbrush and water, but now they beg to be allowed to take some of the food supplies as well. At first, even the shortest legs were strong, but her mind would yell out that she’d done enough after a few hours. Now she can tell herself to not be grumpy even if she really wants to be. This is no mean feat – being grumpy can be quite a performance. She starts off asking how-far-questions, then increases the frequency with which they are asked. Then she sighs and humphs and slows down. She insists she does not want a break, but walks so slowly she’s barely moving. Then the shoe scraping starts. At first just a gentle scuff of the sole on the path, and if no one pays any attention to that, she can increase the intensity and give a good kick with every step. Or maybe a stomp for a change. Don’t forget very audible sighing continues all this time.
Mostly this is under control now. If she wants to, she can choose to be positive or tell us if there’s a problem.
This youngest child made a startling discovery of her own a week or so ago. I looked back down the hill and she was walking bent over clutching her calf. Five minutes later, she was still doing the same thing. Then she spurted forward calling out to me, “Mum! I’ve got big muscles. They’re bigger than Levi’s. He doesn’t have any, but look you can feel mine are hard when I walk.” And it’s all true!
This prompted me to ask the others what they have learnt.
Micaiah is astounded he can actually walk 37km on one day and that many days of walking can result in such a distance covered. He has also noticed a maturing in managing his emotions. A week ago he was reprimanded for rude speech – once he would have either got angry or sulked about this. This time he told himself that it was actually well-deserved and he should not be grumpy at me.
Levi’s observations have been more concrete: snakes can jump, hail hurts when it hits your head and is the size of a golfball, and he likes clams.
Here are the leftovers of the hail storm that made such an impression – fourteen hours later! It was one serious storm and we were out in it! We thought someone had thrown a cup of ice cubes on us from a second-storey window when it started!
Tessa discovered she loves to sleep in – but let’s face it, when you’re ten years old and you’ve not gone to sleep until after 10pm and your mother wakes you at 6, you’re going to think highly of sleep-ins! She has also noticed that there are times when your legs fel like a machine that is not part of you – they just keep working even when you don’t think about them. They keep moving and moving even when you are thinking about other things and you have to tell them to stop if you don’t want to go on.
Destination: O Pedrouzo
Distance: 34km without complaint
Cumulative Distance: 1,194/894km
106km for the girls to get to 1,000km
Weather: nice and cool…..rain held off
Dinner: well, seeing as lunch finished after 5pm, there really wasn’t much need! We ate at the same restaurant we ate at last time – lentils, vege puree, Russian salad, sausages and eggs on rice for first plates…..lasagne for all for second, and various cakes for dessert
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