My cousin Tito has just sent to me the photo I use in today’s post. It’s a sticker of the 88 temples pilgrimage around Shikoku island I have written about, that a Japanese pilgrim left in the Hotel Medulio of my cousin Gelo in Leon (Spain). How curious! (Thanks Tito for the photo, and if you visit Las Médulas don’t leave without dropping by the hotel-restaurant).

Today I will write the last post related to the pilgrimage around the Chita Peninsula, to admit that not all is wonderful in doing a pilgrimage: sometimes the pilgrim is also assaulted by disease.

The decision to sleep outdoors brought more hours of walking with a backpack specially heavy in winter, and fewer hours of rest. One winter morning after a weekend pilgrimage particularly intense, when I was about to get up to go to work, I felt an excruciating pain in the lumbar area going down one leg that mortified the least of my movements.

I dressed in slow motion and walking like a doll, I reached the bus stop and waited for the bus that would take me to hospital. Fast, efficient, modern, and even warmly, doctors and nurses killed the pain: I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. (It was the second time I had to try the Nippon medicine in a short term, the first because of the torment inflicted by a kidney stone in its harrowing journey out, a consequence of poor hydration).

The intervertebral disc injury forced me to postpone the pilgrimage and to reconsider my attitude. The walks loaded like a donkey, eating only once a day, drinking little and badly, fasting each new and full moon days, and sleeping outside, had run into the limit of my endurance. I was amazed at such a tremendous capacity of body work, but now also about its fragility and capacity to cause pain.

Those weeks in the “dry dock” forced me to reflect on how to live more balanced.