Can you believe it? Today is the end of my 16th week on the road. As I reflected today upon my walk I felt a sense of incomprehension at what I've achieved. I know what I've done but I find it difficult to believe that it has actually happened. The part that is most difficult to comprehend is the walk across France. I think of where I entered the country at the east in the Alpes and arriving on the western side at the Bay of Biscay, and the length of the path in between. I suppose the magnitude of the journey is just beginning to enter into my consciousness, whereas before now I was just walking it day after day.

It rained during the night and into the morning. I didn't wake until after 7.00am by
which time half the pilgrims had either left or were getting ready to leave. I like to take my time in the mornings. I won't be rushed. In eat and pack at a leisurely pace.

The albergues provide a moving picture of familiar and new faces. I enjoy this aspect of them, as well as what I did last night which was to sit around the dinner table chatting. We had pilgrims from France, Austria, Poland and Hungary in our group. Spaniards do eat late. A group of about six returned to the albergue with their food about 10.45pm and then commenced to eat dinner. They were still engaged in
animated conversation when I went to bed shortly after midnight.

It was a dismal day for walking. The rain came and went along with my wet weather gear. If it's not raining or very cold I don't like to wear it because although it's super waterproof, it's like walking in a sauna. The walk thus far in Spain hasn't been a sunny one, unlike the beautiful five weeks I spent in Italy, or some of those hot days walking in France. Whatever happened to the 40 degree plus days we were threatened with?

Today's walk took us through a number of urban developments. It doesn't make for particularly interesting walking but it gives an opportunity to observe how Spain handles urban expansion. Early in the morning we passed by a particularly ugly 'Gold Coast' style beach scene where from the hilltop five highrise towers on the beach stood out like concrete pillars of a long ago demolished building.

We did about 10km's before reaching a forested area. There truly is a huge amount of land in the parts of Spain through which I've walked these past three weeks that is
covered with eucalyptus trees. Today's path took us along some very muddy logging tracks through eucalypt plantations.

I think I can now empathise with those people who are constantly in pain. I've learned how to deal with it on a daily basis. Yes, it's that troublesome right leg which has caused me most grief, but not only it. The leg plays up every day from the moment I start to walk and can continue until I take off my backpack for the final time in the day. One of the issues is osteoarthritis in the right knee and the other a problem with the muscle that runs alongside the right tibia. When they misbehave behave I visualise pain relief, sometimes for hours on end. There comes a point of acceptance. I reached that point some time ago because these issues become noticeable very shortly after I entered France and that's now eleven weeks ago. I accept it as part of my journey but I get great comfort by offering my sufering as an act of compassion towards others who are suffering. It's like I'm being rewarded for my suffering. I feel a sense of gratitude at being able to help someone else.

It's not a reward for sixteen weeks on the road, but I'm in a hotel tonight. Some time ago I plotted my stop locations for the last three weeks into Santiago. Muros de
Nalon does not have an albergue. I had another of those long, hot, soaking baths which are not only good for the body but the mind as well. I have a view from my room over green pastures, the hotel being about a kilometre out of town. Breakfast does not start until 9.00am and I plan on taking my time at that. It'll be a late start. Tomorrow's stop is just 12km away and it's albergues all the way from there to Santiago. I've planned an easy run home.

De autorin charly stellt sich vor texter, sprachmittler und bersetzer mit langjhriger erfahrung in industrie und finanzdienstleistung