What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

You should see us walking now.  We’re right up there with the big kids!  No more pausing to breathe several times on every hill.  No more limping around after we arrive at our stop for the night.  – And we often have the energy to take a shower and wash out some clothes and even sightsee a bit before collapsing.  We’ve got this!  So different from when we first started.  My hips are no longer sore.  Neither of us have blisters.  I’m in awe of my feet.  Such good little troopers! 

[The above and below is Donna talking.  I agree we are stronger and “we’ve got this,” but, it will be an act of endurance for me.  C5/C6 agitation doesn’t go away because I’m stronger – darn.  But, we are going to finish regardless.]

Yesterday we hit an important milestone:  We hit double digits in the countdown of the number of kilometers to Santiago! Now after having walked all day today, we have about 68 kilometers to go.  We can do that in three days no problem.  (At least that’s the plan.)  

This last stretch has been really nice.  Good weather, easy terrain, beautiful scenery, and when we stop we can always get good coffee, good wine, and good olives.  Good mood!

And what exactly are we doing here?

Yesterday I (Donna) overheard another pilgrim say: “Oh I don’t really have to do that (I did’t catch what “that” was.) – I’m on vacation.” Her companion replied: “You call this a vacation? This is work!” Got me thinking. Is this work or play?

The relentless step by step, day after day with muscles and joints complaining all the way could be construed as work, but I think it would be more accurately described as a challenge.

And oh the things we’ve seen! Castles and cathedrals and beautiful beech forests and monuments and monastaries and quaint city streets and fat horses and cows and sheep busily grazing on beautiful bright green pastures.

I think the most memorable sight for me was a monument, way up in the Pyranees near the border between France and Spain, to some French resistance workers who were tortured and killed by the German Nazis.

I like sneaking up on these big old cities on little trails that turn in to streets that take you right to the historic city center. Getting to see all these things seems like playing to me.

Many of the people I’ve met are not here to work or to play, but to take a time out to think about their next steps during a life transition such as a divorce or becoming widowed, or graduating from school or losing a job, or retiring, etc.

Some people are here simply because the camino was on their bucket list. Others say they are here for the comraderie found on the camino – and there certainly is comraderie to be found here, but for an introvert like me the camino is also a place where it is possible to stay in your own head.

For whatever reason we are doing the camino, Connie and I have now completed half of it as of today! At the half-way point a few kilometers back, we had covered 389.5 kilometers or 241.85 miles from the starting point at St. Jean Pied de Port, and had 389.5 kilometers or 241.85 miles to go to Santiago. Bring it on!