Sucking on Pebbles

In your Camino, sometimes you will have to do things you wouldn’t normally do, just to give you the feeling that you are going to survive.

On my Camino de Santiago, it was this day when I had planned to walk 30 Km, I was getting out of Burgos, a big city with a beautiful cathedral but what I hated about it (and all other big cities) is getting in and out of it when you have to walk through the ugly industrial areas. Also this day was at the beginning of my tendonitis and I didn’t really get what was wrong with my foot/leg but I couldn’t walk properly.

So I set off with two friends, Gastone and Jenny for the first 10 Km with no breaks and then we have our first break, walk again for another 10Km, and then meet up with lots of friends and have our second break.

Now let me just state some facts about that day and phase of walking. After Burgos it was mainly flat land, boring, with no shadows, so you are really struggling with yourself. Not much cities or villages you pass through which makes it a little harder. But all of that is okay, except that when I was taking my pain-killer at the first break I forgot my water bottle at the bar. And at the second break I had a drink and forgot to buy another bottle.

Being extremely slow that day, and I wasn’t already walking with my slow group, so I was surrounded with fast walkers, or normal walkers. So I decided to start walking a couple of minutes before them so I would not be far behind.

Well, 15 minutes later they started passing me by. “Hey man are you okay?”, “Yeah I’m good, just taking it slowly.”

And one by one they passed me, So I was last again. And boy did my leg start hurting even more, making me go slower than ever!

So I’m walking, sweating, hoping I would get by those last 10Km. And when you are walking on flat land, with no visible land marks, you feel like you are not progressing. You get no sense of how much distance you have covered already. And this would make you feel tired even more.

And that was when I realised I have no water, and that I’m really thirsty! Thinking I wouldn’t even make it. I finally found a shade, took a 5 minute break but didn’t feel any better. Not knowing if I should go back to the previous town or move om to Hontanas. But there was no sign of Hontanas at all…As far as your sight would reach, you don’t see the Church which is usually the highest building in those small villages.

So I started walking again, and having those weird thoughts of “ok, I’ll just spend the night here, if something happens then one of tomorrow’s pilgrims will notice me lying there.”

Starting to feel a little dizzy because of the sun, and getting those weird thoughts, I remembered Ismael the wise man and what he told me about feeling really thirsty. I don’t think I would have remembered what he told me in details if I wasn’t THAT thirsty.  He has told me before that if I was out of water, I can take a small pebble of the ground and feed on it, put it on my mouth so it would make your mouth wet, so you will not feel very thirsty anymore.

So I did it, I also don’t think under normal circumstances I would have picked up a small pebble from the ground and sucked on it. And yes it worked! Or maybe it didn’t really but just gave me the illusion that I wasn’t as thirsty as before.

Did I reach Hontanas? Yes I did, anyone who has passed by Hontanas falls in love with it. It is a very small village that just pops out magically out of nowhere. You suddenly see a sign saying 500m to Hontanas, you look all around you and see nothing and think that sign is misplaced. You walk for a bit and the village is under your feet! It’s under the mountain and it just comes under your feet in a second!

Hontanas under your feet

Hontanas under your feet

Ever been in a situation where you have done something out of the ordinary, or which under normal circumstances you wouldn’t have done? Share your stories :)

Photo credits of picture of pebbles goes to Kerstin Dittman, that day I was too tired to take any pictures, something which I regret now :)

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Categories: Camino de Santiago memories and lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Sucking on Pebbles

  1. Great perseverance! What an amazing trip you are on – can’t wait to do it myself one day!

  2. Quaintest place Hontanas, with all its stone buildings. I didn’t stay there, but remember the feeling walking through. One day I was getting a hot spot on my foot so I stopped and used my lip Chapstick right on my foot and of course still used it on my lips afterwards. I remember thinking this is weird… I would never have imagined myself doing this. Love your Camino posts

  3. What an adventure!

  4. Wow! You done Camino de Santiago? 2 weeks ago I saw the movie THE WAY and was thinking of doing it. Was it tough?

    • Yeah I’ve done the camino September 2011. It’s amazing! I encourage you to do it. I’d definitely do it again! And the movie isn’t even close to how beautiful the way really is.

      And yes it was tough but do-able. It’s a challenge with yourself physically and mentally. You get over the physical challenge in the first week though. and you always meet amazing people that help you get over the spiritual/mental challenge you face ;)

  5. Wow, what a beautiful story. I remember one day when I ran out of water and a car packed with nuns drove by and they gave me a huge liter of water. That is the spirit and humor of the Camino!!!!

    • Oh I was wishing anyone would pass that afternoon to give me water. But I was extremely unlucky that day :D Only until I reached Hontanas because I fell inlove with that village :D

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