Last night I got a massage. After I finished journaling, I hobbled to a nearby bar for dinner, but before I had a chance to step inside a cyclist noticed my limp and asked me what was wrong.

He recommended the masseuse he had just seen for his own muscle strain. I couldn’t help, but think of Ian’s experience back in Los Arcos and the masseuse’s offer of a “happy ending”, however if that was a service this one provided, the cyclist didn’t mention it.

He introduced me to the masseuse who was sitting at the bar. She seemed credible, so I followed her to the albergue’s staff quarters, down a dark, narrow hallway and into a small room set up with a massage table. A shelf was stacked with old smelly blankets. She covered me with one of them, but I had to push it away from my face because of the pungent odour.

Smelly blanket aside, she did a good job of massaging my leg and I even dozed off a little. At the end of the session she asked me if I wanted a special service, but don’t worry it wasn’t a happy ending. She asked if I wanted to try a special therapeutic tape on my leg for an extra five euro. She said the results are good for relieving tendonitis. It seems questionable to me that sticking tape to your leg would give any kind of result other than a good sting while tearing it off, but at this point I’m willing to try anything. She applied the tape to my shin beginning from the front of my ankle, along my shin muscle to just below my knee. We’ll see how it works, but so far I don’t think it’s making any difference.

I limped back over to the bar and was thrilled to see the German Bavarian couple. Their names are Michael and Hedi. They were sitting in the lounge drinking cerveza’s with two other men whose names I cannot remember; one from Spain and the other from Italy. They were all waiting to be seated in the dining room for dinner. They invited me to join them.

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It was a wonderful evening of good food and wine, great company and some interesting conversation. Hedi is sweet. She’s a nurse with a lovely, kind and light hearted personality. Michael is very gregarious, loud and entertaining.

During dinner I asked the Spanish man if he had heard of the surname Reano – my maiden name. It’s correct spelling is with an ñ. My granddad, Jack Reaño, is Spanish. His parents emigrated to Canada from Spain before he was born. The Spanish man said yes, there are Reaño’s in Galicia which coincidentally is the region Santiago is located. He said many families emigrated from Galicia in the early 1900’s because of bad economic times.

It’s interesting to hear the history, but even more so because of how it directly affected my family. If it wasn’t for those bad economic times in Galicia I would never have known my grandfather.

Granddad was Grandma’s fourth husband and the only one to stick around to be a father to my dad and a grandfather to us kids. Dad had legally changed his last name to Reano when he was young, so it is the name I inherited upon my birth. Grandad stayed involved with the family even after the marriage ended, so he has always been a very significant male figure in my life – the only grandfather I ever knew and for that reason it feels even more surreal for me to be here.

My sleep was much more restful last night since there were warm blankets. Even still, I regret sending my sleeping bag off. Having the barrier between my skin and the not-so-clean blankets is important.

This morning an Aussie girl in my dorm announced that during the night she had been bitten by bed bugs. Yikes! She showed me the red bites that dotted her arms. Luckily there was no evidence of bites on my body, but regardless I will disinfect everything I bring back home before it comes in the house.

Again, I set out in the dark with my head lamp on. The sky was clear and the stars glittered.

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Each breath, a cloud of vapour mist, quickly vanished into the dawning sky. It’s becoming colder at night and in the mornings.

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I stopped and fished a pair of merino wool socks out of my pack and pulled them over my hands. They keep my hands warm enough, but gripping my poles is awkward without a free thumb.

I stopped in Hontanas for breakfast and a café con leche and sat with Hedi and Michael.

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Pigeons cooed from ledges above.

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Large stork nests often sit on top of the bell towers too.

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I left before Hedi and Michael did, but it wasn’t long before they passed me as I limped along.

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It was a lovely walk along rolling grasslands.

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I walked through a ruined convent.

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And into the quaint town of Castrojeriz.

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I admired the statue of Our Lady Holding the Child and an old red window.

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And continued following the arrows up the narrow street until I finally reached a comfortable albergue to stop for the night.

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There are good strong showers and a laundry tub here. Although the laundry is only hand wash the albergue provides a big bar of soap which is excellent. It lathers and smells really nice. My clothes are so fresh and clean now – such a luxury! They are hanging outside on the line, but should be dry by now since it has been such a warm and sunny day.

A little earlier, I wandered to a nearby bar and ordered a vegetarian pizza. It had a lovely street side patio with small round tables. I sat down, put my injured leg up on a chair and relaxed with a glass of vino tinto while I journaled on my tablet.

Another pilgrim, Suzanna from New Zealand, eventually joined me and I also met Torbin from Denmark and Øyvind from Norway who sat at a neighbouring table.

Right next door was an outdoor store, so after dinner I wandered in and bought myself a cozy fleece sleeping bag liner. Now I can sleep much better knowing that I have a clean, warm barrier between me and the blanket!