Our Albergue (called a gite in France) was like a hospital following the walk over the Pyrenees and a further 25 kms. Damaged knees were the main injury and there were 3 in our place alone, being only one amongst 15-20 other refuges. One of our new Australian friends was among the wounded so we shared Corrie’s very successful rehab. solutions – anti-inflammatories, slow right down for a bit, a light massage with good oil and use the ubiquitous bars along the way. We wished them well and will talk on the blog.

We said goodbye to our Korean family friends and their injuries and our French and Quebec mother and daughter duos and went on our way. It was good to be back amongst the river and bridge tracks of Spain and Corrie’s second home. We had coffee in a cafe where we met our friend Lisa last year and continued our last leg through the lush hills and valleys of Spain. It was a reflective time and we pondered on our second long walk in Europe.

Arriving in Pamplona we were delighted to see our lovely German women friends for one last time. They are also finishing here, and it was great to have a good talk and wish them well – we had some fun times together. Last year we stayed outside Pamplona so it is a new experience for us in the old part and we will spend a day here looking about as we also reflect on the relationships we formed on the way.

We remember the Korean couple whose cart broke early on and we saw so many times. We think of the 3 convivial French men who caught and chatted as they passed us for the first week and the free spirited Austrian girl who would catch us and talk for awhile. Then there was the Canadian ice hockey player in his 60s and his wife who advised us to keep off the hard road surface to save our shins, and the other Canadians who we warmed to along the wide loch. We recall the 2 South Africans whom we laughed with and shared so much with over dinner in the plaza. There was our special Swiss friend, a great companion who we also joked with a lot who is still walking from home.

There were the 2 young Parisian mums who were great company, our 2 delightful women French friends who have been constant with their presence and our young Swiss friend who supped with us then left us in her wake. There were so many more who touched our lives in some way or other. Finally there were the gite and chambre owners, a couple of them remain close while we formed some special relationships with many others. We will stay in contact with some through my blog as we do with those wonderful friends we made last year, most of whom are following our journey, some who are in contact with us now.

With regards to my Parkinson’s, (more of an interest to those who are living with it) there were some changes. I did have more appropriate medication this year which probably was a large factor in my improved balance and general good feeling. Five days of the Massif Central was more of a challenge than 1 day in the Pyrenees and overall we found this walk more difficult. That said, we averaged about 3 kms a day more and I had no injuries and no falls on the track. Whilst I experience tremors, I had none, or failed to recognise them, on the walk across France. When Parkinson’s and the Spanish cold mixed, then tremors occurred until I got warm.

My walking pace and strength are as good as I can remember which also allowed me to get out of hearing range of Corrie and other walkers when I did my voice exercises. I am no longer having trouble reaching very high pitches but still some difficulty reaching very low notes, although this has improved. For about a few hours on a couple of days I had my ‘leaning to the right’ issue but not for the last two weeks – I’ve now gone straight! My main concern is weight loss because I don’t have much to lose, and am not sure whether that is an issue or not – because I feel good.

Finally, we are extremely grateful to the French friends who filled in the enormous gaps in our limited French repertoire, which made life so much easier for both of us and greatly enriched our camino experience. Merci beaucoup, et au revoir.

Our blog continues as usual tomorrow.