It’s Grindin’ Time

Fromista to Carrion de los Condes

I wake in the morning late, my left knee has no pain. Not until I stand up and the knives reinsert themselves and twist deep counterclockwise.

I call a rest day, Pam, who is quite concerned by now, agrees and we call ahead to the hotel we had planned to stay next. Graciously they agree to transfer our reservation to the next day, first tick to La Corte.

We also book ahead for the three nights Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Leon at the Parador, a fancy hotel right on the town main square. As I write this Pam is informing me that the Parador hotels are all converted pilgrim’s hospitals however the el cheapo prices are long gone as are, hopefully, the bedbugs.

Pam goes for a wander about town to see the sights of Fromista, she is back in five minutes, two churches, a few restaurants and ten bar/cafes. Quite a large town really.

I stay in the hotel room resting. Pam calls it whinging.

I only leave the hotel room for lunch and dinner. We eat lunch at the restaurant about twenty meters from the hotel. It takes me five minutes to get there, not looking too good for the twenty kilometers tomorrow. Finally we are in a Spanish restaurant and not eating from the pilgrim ten euro special menu. I order Calamari and a hamburger (I have been pining for a hamburger for days) and Pam has a beautiful grilled vegetable platter. Simple and delicious.

We return to the hotel for another ‘whinging’ session and venture out for dinner to one of the cafes we have not yet frequented.

We each have the best pilgrim meal we have eaten so far on the Camino, Pam ends up with a delicious salad and a hot spinach lasagne while I have pork steaks with a divine sauce and a ‘Russian’ salad (which is what the Spanish call potato salad).

As we walk back to the hotel knives are still plunging in and out of my left knee as I put my body weight down. We discuss options for me to catch a bus in the morning which neither of us are excited about.

We go to sleep dissatisfied with the options at hand and neither of us are sleeping particularly well.

I find myself in the midst of an extremely vivid dream. I am lying on a massage table and my friend and Osteopath Bardia is in the room with me.

Bardia slaps me upside the head and calls me a pussy and a moron. He says I am a pussy for not grinding through the pain of curing myself and a moron for listening to the opinion of Allopaths who do not dwell in my body rather than rely on my own intuition and extensive knowledge of anatomy. He states that there are endless modalities of treatment for any condition and that diagnosis is only the beginning of treatment.

He reminds me of the statement he said the last time we met, that the ‘knee is a strong hinge joint that is difficult to injure without impact stress’, that ‘people who complain of sore knees usually have relatively immobile hips joints and that most knee pain is a transfer of stress from overly tight fascia connecting the pelvis and lower leg’ (the Ilio-Tibial Band ITB). He grinds his thumb into trigger point after trigger point to demonstrate how I have allowed stress to accumulate.

He presses on my lower leg and guides me to find the angle and spot where gravity will do the job of a human practitioner. He demonstrates a different gait that I can adopt to ensure that each step heals rather than damages my knee joint. He races round the room so fast he begins to climb the walls. He ensures that I pay close attention to his knee movement, heel strike, foot roll and final toe contact.

He adopts the tone of one of my personal inspirations, Scott Sonnon, and tells me to shave the pain from each trigger point and to begin to prepare my lower body to accomplish the Cossack Lunge.

He smacks me upside the head again and calls me a moron who will forget everything he has told me if he doesn’t act to ensure my memory stays.

Taking hold of my left leg he drapes it off the massage table at a right angle with my toes facing upwards, puts his right hip to my left knee joint and twists violently, breaking my knee joint completely.

I wake sweating and reaching for my knee to ensure it is intact.

Carlos Castaneda describes such moments, where the Universe presents required information, as a cubic centimeter of chance, states that these moments occur frequently to us all and that it is up to the individual to recognise and seize such moments when they occur.

You could be working the graveyard shift in a dead end job idly watching the wind blowing a swinging rubbish bin lid and realise that this benign moment places the cap stone sealing a pyramid of ideas that have been stringing through your life since the age of eleven.

Sometimes you really have to be on the lookout.

Tonight it was freakin’ obvious.

I immediately begin tossing and turning trying to find the ideal spot Bardia had described to swing my knee joint and end up with my head at the foot of the bed and my left leg hanging over the side of the bed. My rhythmic rocking wakes Pam who begins to cough and sneeze.

We wish each other Happy Anniversary for it is our wedding anniversary today. Pam is coughing into her hands because she doesn’t want me to catch her cold and then rubbing her germ ridden hands on my hair because she wants me to feel good.

I have no recollection of these events – Pam

Now that’s ironic Alanis.

We toss and turn for ages and end up swapping sides of the bed where I am able to rest my outstretched left leg on a chair and begin shaving the edges off the pain trigger points up the side of my ITB according to my ‘instructions’ rubbing Traumeel furiously into my skin. I return to my rhythmic knee joint rocking wondering it we will ever get back to sleep. It is about 4:30am.

The alarm wakes us at 6:00 am, we wish each other Happy Anniversary again, this time without the tinge of insanity in our voices.

Pam has been waiting for the release of the latest Pearl Jam single Sirens and first order of business is to watch the official Youtube video. It is a great song, and its in 4/4, I can see us singing this one down the track.

Trepidatiously I stand erect, my left knee is still painful however the knives have been withdrawn. Bardia’s advice has been sound and I feel capable of walking with my pack on for the first time since we arrived in Fromista.

Whilst I shower Pam is checking the blog and sees a comment from Julie, one of our first day/night companions at Orisson who has read our blog. Julie has returned to America, as per her plans, while her Camino companion Anita continues to forge her way on to Santiago.

‘Hey Hey Julie’, you were sweet, lovely and super friendly in the short time we spent together. The only sad thing about traveling ‘slow’ like Pam and I are doing is that great companions such as yourself and Anita burn us off and leave us in your dust. If either of you ever find yourself in Brisbane Australia after we have returned (and I say this in my best Mississippi drawl) ‘You’all look us up, for you have a place to stay’.

After a fruit breakfast we are ready (I wouldn’t say raring) to go by 7:15am and set off in the cool morning air. Already I can sense this will be a hot cloudless day. We are unsure of the way out of town however pilgrims seem to be drifting to a central point and turning right.

Despite repeating the danger of acting like good lemmings as we had demonstrated on the way into Fromista, following the pack in this circumstance turned out to be correct and in no time we have made our way out of town walking the gravel path thoughtfully constructed for pilgrims beside the main road. We come to a bridge with another sculpture with the missing silhouette of a pilgrim and pause to take a photo against the dark blue of the morning sky.



I am doing my best to emulate the gait demonstrated by Bardia in the night and as my left knee warms up I feel truth revealed and swing into a relatively comfortable rhythm where we are almost able to keep up with most pilgrims.

Some Americans pass us and a lady comments on how cold her hands are, I reply that later in the day she will think back with fondness to the cool air of the morning. They laugh and pass on talking fondly of Australia.

The Way is flat this morning, pool table flat, following waterways and the amazing irrigation canals and aqueducts built long ago for crop irrigation and water supply.

We have arrived at the village Ledigo before the sun has fully risen and charge through without stopping. I do not want to break my newly found rhythm.


The Way takes two paths at Legigos, one following the bitumen, one following a gravel path beside the waterway. Despite my left knee’s impending doom we chose the waterway and wind ourselves along the flat path following the reed covered stream.



We pass by, though not through, the villages on the road and it is not until we come across a bridge crossing the Rio Ucieza and turn right for Villalcazar de Sirga that we pass directly by a building.



We circumnavigate Villalcazar de Sirga without entering the town and stop for a fruit and water break sitting on a bench in the shade of a building.

The Way follows the bitumen road from Villalcazar de Sirga, to our destination for the day Carrion de los Condes, on a gravel pilgrims footpath stretching the entire six kilometers. There are a couple of slight hills between the village and the town, however even to injured pilgrims such as myself, they are nothing and pass beneath our feet unnoticed.


From the top of the crest to our right we can see magnificent true mountain peaks in the distance and with the new IOS7 camera improvements I attempt to take some HiRes pics that will come close to the grandeur we see with our eyes.



The walk into Carrion de los Condes is simple and we find our hotel quickly. The hotel staff are the most organized of any we have encountered so far in Spain. We are quickly and painlessly shown to our room. The Hotel La Corte will do our laundry for five euros, washed and dried and we happily part with the money. We shower and rest then have lunch at the hotel restaurant.

The restaurant is filled with Spanish speaking people, always a good sign. The staff are fast and attentive, the food delicious. We have struck gold.

Our room is on the ground floor of a courtyard behind the restaurant and as Pam goes to roam the town leaving me and my bung knee behind I retire to the shade of the courtyard, order a cervesa grande, of which I am now on my third, and begin tip tap typing away in the shade of an umbrella sitting on stone seats.

Pam returns within five minutes as on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Siesta even the church is closed. She has a Vino Blanca and retires to our room to sleep as we have had precious little last night.

While I sit the three Americans who had passed us that morning come in and have a few drinks and say hello. I share my shady spot with four Aussie cyclists who are doing the Camino at an average of 50km per day. I do not share my thoughts of embedding one of my pacerpoles in an arrogant cyclist’s back as they pass and we share tales of our travels thus far.

It has been a strange day, whirling dreams, cubic centimeters of chance, wedding anniversaries, pain held at bay by will and Camino Candy, new songs.

As we walked into Carrion Pam’s mobile phone pinged, as stated we upgraded the OS and she had not reset her apps to only work in wifi.

We receive a message from our darling daughter Lexi and in part she asks what our sign off PLL means.

PLL stands for Peace, Love and Laughter and is the title of an simple old poem I wrote maybe fifteen years ago and have used as a parting sign off in communications to people I like ever since.

It is very apt for the Camino and goes something a little like this………

Walk in Peace
Live in Love
Be guided by Laughter

Peace Love Laughter Walk Live BE



Always lovin’ you Lexi.


Pam and Mick





















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