What Are YOU Waiting For?

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” . . . What then? Shall we sit idly down and say,

The night has come; it is no longer day??

The night hath not yet come; we are not quite

cut off from labor by the failing light.

Something remains for us to do or dare

(Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear) –

Not Oedipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode,

or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode 

out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn –

But other something, would we but begin.

For age is opportunity, no less

than youth itself, though in another dress,

And as the evening twilight fades away

the sky is filled with stars,

invisible by day.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Morituri Salutamos”,  1874

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Goldilocks and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Situation

[Continued from the previous post – if you haven’t read “No Photos, Just a Terribly Embarrassing Albergue Story,” you might want to read that first]

The problem slowly became clear to me.

The young pilgrim wasn’t especially annoyed at me, but I had messed up, without a doubt. There was no one to blame but me. I had caused a major problem.

Can you see it? Please say no.

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Maybe now? Experienced pilgrims are slapping their foreheads at my stupidity.

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I had to look a dozen times before I saw my mistake.

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The day before, the Xunta was small (20 beds) and the friendly hospitalera had given me the receipt, telling me not to lose it since it was my proof I belonged there. This day, the not-as-friendly hospitalera had given me the receipt and waved me along.

I hadn’t noticed that I was assigned a specific bed in a specific section of the building.

I had just put my pack down in a good location, as everyone had routinely done when arriving at an albergue since Day One (I add, defensively).

Today was the first and only day it would be different. I had unknowingly taken this guy’s bed.

I can’t imagine the domino effect I must have caused when he got to his assigned space, saw me dozing peacefully,  and said to himself, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed – and THERE SHE IS NOW!”

As my error flashed into my brain, I instantly offered to vacate and go downstairs, tail between my legs, and ask for another available “cama.” He graciously declined my offer since he had already gotten another bed.

I desperately showed him my tickets and explained in my broken Spanish that I hadn’t known I had been assigned a bed, based on my experience the night before.

I don’t think he really cared. I was so apologetic, though, that he may have begun to feel sorry he had brought it up.

Did he feel badly about how badly I felt at my mistake?  Did he really excuse my mistake? Or did he think I was just another arrogant and/or stupid American (had he seen the American flag sewn on my backpack)?  I was mortified and humiliated. How could I have been so dumb to not have seen the markings on the receipt and ask questions?

After walking for more than four weeks and 700 kilometers, I still didn’t know what I was doing.

I had a loooong talk with my Saints that night.

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If it’s any consolation to that unknown pilgrim whose bed I inadvertently took, a pilgrim came later that afternoon to the upper bunk. He had a “bed bug” sheet with him to prevent bugs from getting to him and I helped him slip the cover on his mattress.

This was the first time during the trip that I had thought about bed bugs in albergues, even though it was a common thread in the on-line forums I’d studied in preparation for my trip.

My infestation-obsessed bunkmate climbed up into his bed later that evening, having spent a raucous night on the town.

I, however, tossed and turned all night long, imagining that every itch and scratch was a you-know-what crawling on me and into my pack.

It was all in my imagination. The only souvenirs I brought home from my trip were all bought and paid for.

But the Camino (St. Julian, I’m looking at YOU) continued to keep me humble.

Camino minus 22 – the X-Ray-ded edition, with a special warning for the faint of heart

Knowledge is power.

I mentioned yesterday that I had gone to the lab to get medical work done. I realize I’m not as young as I once was, although my Wii Fit instructor/avatar seems pleased as punch with the shape I’m in.  But in preparation for this trip,I knew I’d better find out anything and everything that’s wrong with my health before I go.

I especially wanted to make sure my leg is in good shape. Several years ago, I broke one of the most break-resistant bones in the body – the femur. The thigh bone. I did it snowboarding.

My DH had sent me off that morning with a cheerful “Ha,ha, don’t break your leg!” Well, within one hour of getting to the mountain, I was face down in the snow, unable to get up. Never having broken a bone before, it was an unusual experience.

Also, being in Japan and not speaking the language, it was especially unusual. I think the “rescue” people thought I was just an old American lady slacker, whining over nothing.

OK, here’s the warning. I’m OK with these x-rays of my leg. But others have turned slightly green at the sight. If you tend to turn green, I advise you to scroll down and avert your eyes for a bit.

Otherwise, here are some of the x-rays taken 9 hours after the accident, when I finally got to a hospital:

Side View - OUCH!                        Front View

Ouch.

No problem, though. The American military doctors were excellent. I never had a cast of any kind. Three tiny one-inch scars. My care was wonderful.  And, although I was NOT HAPPY at the time, the Air Force physical therapists had me out of bed and very gingerly back on my feet the next day.

      Kathy5                        Repaired, see the original break towards the top right.

As I recall, the PT to get the strength back in that leg was much more painful than the break.

Thanks to my PT wizards, my recovery was swift. Within a week, I was very carefully getting around on crutches, and, within months, had climbed Mount Fuji, pain free (except for the pain of climbing Mt Fuji, but that’s another story).

However, years later, the site of the break  occasionally gives me a little discomfort. So, I wanted to take a peek inside, before the trip, to make sure nothing weird was going on.

I suspected the discomfort was caused by my simply being out of shape and my poor muscles not being able to handle stress. But for an 800 km walk, I needed to  be sure it was just me failing my body, not technology failing me.

Well, I saw yesterday’s  x-rays. They looked excellent. Even better than they did years ago. No slightly jagged edges where the original break had been, everything looking clean and smooth, like a normal bone, just with a giant nail running from top to bottom. The medical people call it a nail, I think it looks more like a sewing needle.

The metal does not set off airport security.

So, one more hurdle jumped over. The leg is in technologically good shape. I can’t blame anything but my own laziness and “junk in the trunk” for any aches and pains.

Thanks to those amazing military doctors, nurses, and therapists, not to mention the craftsmen who kindly put in hours building structures so I could get around our house, I’m no worse off than before.

All of their names will go with me on my Camino, on a slip of paper, so I can remember them in my prayers along the way. My prayer list will be long, as I remember how blessed I am.

A big hug to my DH.

And, no, I no longer go snowboarding.