The Camino Frances

The Camino Frances

Monday, May 19, 2014

Illness, Injuries and Mishaps on the Camino

Day 26 Cacabelos to Ruitelan 27 km
Day 27 Ruitelan 690m to La Faba 927 m to O Cebreiro 1300 m to Alto de Poio 1337m to Fonfria 22 km

Church in Fonfria

Cacabelos to Ruitelan was a fairly easy day. We took the lower route, so most of the time we had a road on the right side, but were protected by a cement wall, and the Valcarce river on the other side, though it crossed back and forth many times as it wandered. We stayed in another favourite albergue ( Thanks, Natalie, for introducing me to it) in Ruitelan. They are very welcoming, and waken us at 6 am with Ave Maria! The dinner was delicious, and the chef asked if we had any food limitations, so I was great with that.
This morning, after a lovely breakfast, we started the climb to O Cebreiro. It was challenging, but very beautiful - much greener and vaster than our last climb up the mountains of Irago out of Rabanal. We arrived just before the rain and snow started.

The most common injury is a blister. I  have seen some huge blisters, and multiples on the same foot! I have a small one, which is not bothering me. I keep it covered, and it is shrinking. Some advice suggests piercing and draining, and sometimes using a needle and thread and keeping the thread in. There is a danger of infection with this practice. Someone else cut the top off completely. There is a bandaid here called Compeed, and it is used extensively. You leave it on till it falls off, and it seems to dry the blister.
I use vaseline to keep the skin flexible, and prevent rubbing. Some people swear by double socks. You need to do what works for you.
Shin Splints and Tendonitis are also common among the pilgrims. Ibuprofen is jokingly refered to as Vitamin I here, and a lot of people take it. They also us Voltaren, which is ibuprofen in a cream for aches and pains, which come from the added weight of the backpack. I have not heard of many people falling, though it happens.
We also knew 2 men who had tooth problems. One collapsed - he seemed to faint momentarily - and went to the hospital to be checked out. He only stayed a few hours, and took a bus to Leon to see a dentist. After 2 days off he was back on the road.
The second pilgrim found a piece of his tooth in his mouth. He took a taxi to Leon and had it glued back in immediately, for free. 
Pilgrims either tough it out, send the backpack by a transport company ( costs about 7€ per trip) take a day off, or take the bus.  We had met 2 pilgrims in Orrison who had to go home, their tendonitis and blisters were so bad.

Tom, a pilgrim we met who does not stay in albergues, say there is a lot of albergue cough going around. Wendy had a cough for a while, but there is not much coughing in the night by anyone.
There also is a stomach bug along the Camino. It may be food related, or a viris. We have heard of several people laid up for a day with this. There was a pilgrim in bed when we arrived yesterday in Ruitelan, and he was up and out today after a day´s rest. We are walking parallel to a retired doctor at the moment, and he checked him out.
I felt a little rough today with stomach issues, and was glad I had already decided to send my backpack up the mountain, as I did in 2012. I had a rest when I got in ( I usually don´t) and feel fine now, and looking forward to supper, which will include Caldo Gallego, which I make at home and love.


Losing things, leaving them behind is a common occurence. We left something in Cacabelos, and the hospitalero in Ruitelan called the albergue, who arranged for Jacotrans to bring it here. We appreciate such cooperation, which often happens here. Spain seems to appreciate pilgrims.

The Camino is like real life. Stuff happens, and pilgrimage goes on.


  1. You should warn us that this is a description, NOT a report on your day. I was afraid upon reading the title, that all of these things had happened to you! Thank goodness the mishaps so far have been minor. ;-}

    1. Today we saw a woman who broke her wrist! But we are both great.

  2. Hi Darlene:
    I want to thank you so much for placing my stone at Cruz de Ferro on May 16th. That means so much to me.

    Your blogs are amazing. So informative on all aspects of "Camino" life and wanderings. You could put them into a very helpful guide to all prospective pilgrims and seasoned pilgrims as well.

    I so wish I was walking the Camino with you. Two nights ago I actually dreamed that I was on the Camino again. This is the only "Camino dream" that I have had since I walked in 2009.

    So glad to hear that you are healthy and strong and only beset by minor discomfort along the way.

    Thinking about you every single day and continue to wish you "buen camino" on your journey.

    Love and blessings,


    1. I would love to walk it with you too. Amazing that something I wrote or you thought about triggered your first Camino dream. Blessings to you and your family too.

  3. Replies

    1. Snow on the side of the path today, and snow frosting all the trees on the mountains. Strange for May, but we were very high.

  4. Mom,
    I agree with Pat, I was momentarily in a panic, and wondering if you had been trying to call. You are a walking machine though, so I shouldn't have worried. It sounds like you are really in your stride now, and although I know they are not always picturesque views, the pics you have included look amazing. I hope you are wearing sunscreen- on your ears at least.
    We spent yesterday at the cottage, and today gardening around here with sun and blue sky in abundance. Spring is in full swing, and waiting for your return.
    The most love, Meghan

    1. It is raining like mad right now, and it showered off and on all day - amazing to see the clouds cross the sky, and the rain falling away across the valley. Looking forward to hugs on my return.

  5. Darlene, just talked to Sue Kenney via facebook, they are in Ponferrada. She is wondering if you have a phone to call you... I told her you are in O'Cebreiro...Sue is on facebook and twitter only, no blog this time. Ingrid

    1. We don´t have a phone, just the blog, but am on facebook. I´ll look for her there.

  6. wow Darlene....scared us :-) good to hear overall things are going well...with of course the challenges that are making your trip unique. thanks for keeping us all so informed and for all the wonderful gems and ideas! keep on keeping on!
    all the best...

    1. Sorry to momentarily scare my readers. I am a walking machine, as Meghan said, so no worries!