We got up early this morning. Mostly because it is very hard to sleep in a small room with 8 people once someone starts moving. I woke up very early and just laid there trying to go back to sleep until around 6 when a couple ambitious Germans started rustling. At that point, I popped up and gave Pete the “let’s go” symbol which is sorta like when a baseball umpire signals homerun.
We were up an out of there at the overlap of the sunrise and when the nighttime flood lights cut out to make way for the day. It spotlighted the tower in Villamayor with a gorgeous multicolor backdrop.
The air stayed cool as we careful stepped down the red-dirt vineyards, taking care not to put too much stress on the knees. Downhill is an absolute killer. At the bottom of the vineyards we got onto a sort of gravel superhighway unlike we have seen. The white gravel path is flat and slices through the pastureland as far as the eye can see. Besides giving our legs a break from the uneven up and down of the prior trails, this even road also gave us an opportunity to see more of our surroundings.
As we walked, a large dark strom cloud approached. While most people saw this as a potential threat for massive rain, I could only see the stunning contrast that the dark clouds provided against the sunlit hay fields below.
The morning coolness gave way to stifling afternoon heat that seemed to come from both above and below. Pete and I have stayed pretty well hydrated throughout the trip. Every time we see a water source, we down whatever we have and then fill up the one liter Nalgene. But carrying water is a double-edged sword as the more you carry, the heavy your load and the more you need. So we try to have just enough.
This afternoon, we got stuck. The next expected source never materialized and in the heat of the day we found ourselves running out of water. I could feel my body drying out – my throat got sore and I stopped sweating. But I knew the next big town (Viana) had a big watering hole on the edge of town.
When we finally got our water, Pete and I laid out in the grass under a tree and rehydrated. I thought about women with fistula. I wondered what they did when they ran out of water. How did they get rehydrated when they could not access the only watering hole in town?
When we left Villamayor, we wanted to reach Viana. When we finally reached Viana, they were having some sort of festival like San Fermin in Pamplona, where all the people wear white and red and some even run with bulls. The city had a very festive feel, which combined with the great terrain throughout the day somehow energized us to go for Logrono.
As we entered the Rioja region en route to Logrono, the nice gravel trail turned into hard purple asphalt. Every step seemed to send a quake of compression up my already exhausted leg. This late in the day however, the bulk of the pain burden stayed in our feet. We called this deep bone pain, beat feet.
To reduce beat feet, a person can walk on anything other than hard asphalt. This means find some dirt on the road or some cut grass or even trash – anything that will soften the blow. As I robotically sought out a softer place to land my expensive hiking boots, I again thought about the women in Africa walking everywhere for everything with nothing more than tattered flip-flops on their battered feet. Even with a bad case of the beat feet, our plight pales in comparison to the every day lives of women in faraway places.
If you can spare anything, please buy some steps now. These women need your help and we are way behind on sponsorship.