Jenny Heesh, most of you might know, is a regular on this blog.
She is part of the Camino Angels triumvirate, the other two being Britta Huttel and Janet Mostyn.
Let me put this as plainly and as forcefully as I can – Do not go drinking with these women. They are dangerous. Particularly around Sangria. They will have you saying and doing things you will later regret.
Now, that being out of the way –
Jenny wasn’t able to come with Britta and Janet on the India tour because she’d locked in a biking Camino. Which in some respects I’m sort of thankful for, because with Jenny and those other two altogether, plotting their misadventures, the spiritual tour could have turned into a spiritual tour.
Anyway, her biking trip though was thwarted when she took a fall on a training ride several months beforehand. She injured herself quite severely.
But Jenny is nothing if not determined, courageous, and unstoppable when she sets her mind to something. So she segued her biking trip into something perhaps even more special, as she details below in the first part of her post.
Her post is broken up into three parts, which she has delicately entitled Bikes, Blisters, and Blood Poisoning. Did I say she’s a cheerful thing too?
By the way, if you’ve got a weak stomach, or you have a propensity to hurl at the sight of really disgusting photographs of physical malformations, then I’d advise you to read these posts with your eyes shut…
(Happy New Year to you all by the way!!)
BIKES, BLISTERS AND BLOOD POISONING
My first aid journey on the Camino
PART I – BIKES
Ironically, my first aid journey on the Camino last September began with an accident.
For well over a year I had planned to cycle with my friend Mike on the Camino, from Pamplona to Finisterre. Mike and I had both invested in new mountain bikes which we planned to bring with us from Australia.
I loved my new bike, christening it the “Camino Dreambike”. It had more gear combinations than I would ever use on a dozen caminos, let alone ONE, plus hydraulic disk brakes and a bell that would have been music to the ears of any walking pilgrim!
Last April, several months into training, a cycling accident ended my camino plans. A crosswind buffeted the bike so badly that I lost control and fell, my shoulder taking the brunt of the fall. I broke my collarbone and scapula and in May, when no bone knitting was evident, I had surgery to pin and plate the collarbone.
The injury, though not major, was nonetheless painful, both physically and emotionally.
An unexpected offer in June turned the way I was dealing with the injury around completely. My friend David from the UK, knowing that the bike camino could not happen, offered me the opportunity to help him carry out first aid on the Camino.
I accepted his kind and generous offer straight away and quickly whipped into planning mode for the new and very different camino.
David is a veteran first-aider who has provided first aid, pastoral care and support to pilgrims on the Camino, generally twice a year since 2006 – all on a voluntary basis. His first aid caminos are funded partly through the profits from his online Camino shop – http://stores.ebay.com.au/pilgrimsupplies. He uses his own savings to fund the balance of the cost.
I flew to Spain on 1 September, joining up with Mike in Madrid before we both travelled by train to Pamplona where David was waiting for us. There were two spare seats in front of us so we commandeered them for Mike’s bike, which received some rather strange looks from the train conductor and other passengers in our carriage!
On the train we met Roni from Oklahoma, who was to be the first pilgrim we helped. Roni was a graduate student who was doing her Ph.D. dissertation on the way that technology affects pilgrimages on the camino. As well as making her own pilgrimage, she planned to conduct interviews all along The Way for her dissertation.
She had arrived in Madrid from the USA early that morning and wasn’t looking to a three-hour wait for the bus to Roncesvalles, her starting point. Arriving so late in Roncesvalles meant that the chance of a bunk at the main albergue – Refugio de Peregrinos de Roncesvalles – was not good.
We introduced Roni to David and as soon as he heard about Roni’s wait for the bus he offered to give her a lift to Roncesvalles in his car. After dropping our gear off at our hotel we all headed straight to Roncesvalles, with Roni managing to secure her place at the historic albergue.
Meeting Roni, and getting to know her a little, was an absolute delight and it was a wonderful start to my camino.
While at Roncesvalles David and I began work as a first aid team and I experienced my first taste of the work that would be our focus for the weeks to come.
At the albergue David made an announcement in several languages that we were offering first aid at no charge for anyone who needed help. There were several pilgrims who did, so we spent around an hour carrying out first aid before we said farewell and “Buen Camino” to Roni.
The next day Mike and David reassembled Mike’s bike in readiness for his departure the following morning.
David and I waved goodbye to Mike – our shouts of “Buen Camino” bouncing off Mike’s helmet as he cycled away on a sunny Pamplona morning. I had mixed emotions seeing him leave – disappointment at the thought that I was unable to join him on our planned camino – but at the same time I was very excited and happy to be undertaking a completely different camino – a first aid camino.
Part two coming tomorrow…