Via Podiensis Day 28: Arthez-de-Bearn (rest/injured)

Today I’m staying put in Arthez, nursing myself back to fitness (I hope) with ibuprofen and anti-inflammatory gels. It’s actually great to chill for a day – washing clothes, taking a leisurely breakfast and using the bathroom whenever I want to. Simple things…

Today’s Costs

€1.50 – generic ibuprofen
€10.00 – further night in gite communal
€5.00 – coffee and Coke
€9.50 – groceries

Practicalities and Reflections

As I say, it’s great to take a rest day. A lie in, good sleep and taking things easy for once heals body and spirit. No medals are awarded for doing extra kilometres on this walk – you’ll gain nothing from performing heroics (this message is finally getting through to me now). Since Moissac I’ve done some very long days, believing I was gaining in strength. I probably was overall, but my shin splints – if that’s what they are – have forced me to properly stop.

Self-diagnosis is always a tricky business, and everyone you talk to has an opinion. I decided to visit the pharmacy and get professional advice. The nice pharmacist advised ibuprofen regularly throughout the day, a pain-relieving gel (Voltarol 2% ‘intense’), drinking loads of water and resting up. She said perhaps because of the road walking for the last few days, the impact on the body has been more intense.

I’m taking the time to further adjust my want-list for the next long walk I do. Into my first aid kit will go plenty of strong ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory gel and another thing I’ve seen a lot of walkers use – foot cream. This latter can be had in pharmacies, and there seems to be a wide range of products available. My Swiss friends lent me their foot cream back in Aubrac. Theirs was a homeopathic/herby concoction as I remember. The sensation of rubbing something soothing into your tired, battered feet is absolutely blissful.

Pilgrim’s Reflections

Do I feel deflated, frustrated to have to stop so close to St-Jean? Curiously, not. I think deep inside I’d been wanting a rest day, and now it’s happened I feel good. Tomorrow I’ll be able to gauge if my leg is better – if necessary I’ll give it another day. You have to understand that the Way is a microcosm of life itself – you go through bad patches, the unforeseen, things mess with your stride!

In many ways, fortune has been kind to me yet again. My friend Patrick was on hand to help me through a difficult day yesterday, and now I find myself in Arthez-de-Bearn – a pretty town with all the amenities I need. The gite at La Maison des Pelerins is cheap, clean and has lovely views from the bedroom windows. The town sits atop a ridge and commands superb views of the Pyrenees, some 100km to the south. There’s a pharmacy, shops, a bar with Wifi and an ATM. I can’t complain about life.

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