Day 26 – Melide – Santiago 53km -Thursday 18/10/2012 – 796km in total
When I woke up, I was overwhelmed with the idea of reaching Sangtiago by nightfall. I’d planned to do the journey in two days but why not finish it today if I could? My feet were sore and I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep but I pondered over the thought as I set off in the cold and dark with Dave at 7:40am.
It became more evident at this stage of the journey that a number of pilgrims only come to do the last 100km of the Camino, to receive the certificate and be able to say that they have done the pilgrimage. Their experience would have been completely different to that of my own. As I walked past I could smell that some of them even had perfume on! It made me laugh as I felt so disgusting at this point.
At around the 25km mark, coming to a place to rest and eat, we chatted to our Korean friend Albert. He too was struggling with sore feet. He had red wine in his water bottle to help with the pain which I found very funny. He asked where we were walking to and when I replied that we were considering Santiago he laughed and said, ‘Noooooo you can’t do that!’. ‘Why not?’ I asked him.
We continued on our way and not long after, Albert caught up to us again with a Canadian friend of his. She said it would be impossible for us to walk that far in one day. Dave and I looked at each other and in that instant I knew that I was going to reach Santiago by the end of the day with or without him. Thankfully he was driven to get there too, his desire only fueled by the Canadian’s comment.
I bought extra chocolate to fuel my body. My feet and body were extremely sore but the desire to see Santiago and to not have to stay in another albergue was so great that I pushed through the pain. With every 10km traveled we became more and more excited with getting that bit closer towards our goal. The walk was amazing. The scenery was lush and green, just beautiful.
It was a quiet journey. A lot of the pilgrims had stopped walking by late afternoon. As we continued on our way, we passed a French man, Michelle, who was heading in the opposite direction. We asked where he was travelling to and he replied that he was unsure. He had been walking in the same direction as us earlier but, without knowing where the next albergue was, he had started to backtrack. I encouraged him to join us to Santiago. We were so close.
We shared food, excitement and an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as we made our way closer and closer. The last 10km seemed to take forever but we finally arrived in Santiago just after 8pm. It was spectacular to see the sun setting over the Cathedral and to hear the pipe players playing as we made our way into the city. It felt awesome to have the locals come up to us and shake our hands and call us pilgrims. It was such an amazing experience.
The moment I stood, or collapsed I should say, at the front of the cathedral was AMAZING. I felt so empowered, so content, so ALIVE and exhausted all at the same time. I felt so grateful.
I could see the Hotel Hostal Dos Reis Catolicocs, 5star hotel to the left of us. I considered hobbling over and paying the 200Euro to stay there but I knew that there was a cheaper hotel about 300m up the road. Dave wanted to stay in an albergue and I was happy for him to do so as I was so excited about having a room all to myself. It was worth every bit of the 70Euro. I felt like a princess staying here. I relaxed, had a warm bath and enjoyed being able to walk around the room naked. It was such an amazing feeling. I phoned home and shared the amazing news with my loved ones.
By this stage it was very late and I was keen to get some sleep. The cathedral had been closed when we arrived so I couldn’t wait to check it out in the morning.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
If someone tells me that I can’t do something, it challenges me and drives me to achieve it.
Once I get an idea in my head, I cant let it go, I need to go with it.
If I set a goal I will make it happen.
It’s amazing seeing the MIND over MATTER principle in action.
Day 25 – Hospital – Melide 28.7km – Wednesday 17/10/2012
After sleeping well, we started the day’s journey at around 7:30am. It was dark and raining, the heaviest it had rained so far on the Camino. Although we walked together, Ann, Dave and I were in our own worlds listening to the rain, taking one step after another, reflection on our trip and coming to the realisation that it was coming to an end.
We arrived in Melide at around 2:30pm. Although the walk was very wet and testing, especially when we saw a sign for a taxi (it’s funny that people would actually pay for one on the walk!), the scenery was lush and beautiful. A lot of pilgrims had decided not to walk today because of the rain but I had wanted to experience it. I wanted to experience the painful feet, to challenge my boundaries, test my body and my mind. It was a quiet walk and I found myself missing people from home and playing possible scenarios over and over in my head about some of the decisions I needed to make when I got home.
I received a message from Sandor saying that he had finished his pilgrimage to Santiago and that he may still be there when I arrived. It was nice to hear from him but at the same time I was only interested in a friendship and it was obvious that he was keen for more.
When I arrived in Melide I knew that I had done enough walking for the day. My feet weren’t going to allow me to go any further even if I’d wanted to. After the teary day I’d had the day before I was starting to realise my limits. The rain was certainly testing my limits too – it hadn’t stopped raining all day. Ann however, decided to continue on and we said our farewells.
Dave and I had a look around the place. We met a really nice American guy whom, I must admit, I found extremely attractive! He just oozed energy and had a mysterious charm about him.
We enjoyed a salad and pasta for dinner and decided on having an early night. As I lay in bed I started looking forward to Finisterre. I wasn’t sure yet if I would walk or bus it there. All I knew was that I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work or my normal life – I just wanted to travel more. Only next time with more financial freedom to stay in nicer places. I was getting over the yucky showers and beds.
I couldn’t believe that there were only two more days left – a 33km journey and 20.9km one.
Awarness Gained Along The Way
I had a moment of clarity. It’s time for me to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and let go of what I can not control
I learn by being challenged.
I am too competitive to miss the obvious signs.
Day 24 Sarria – Hospital 35.6km Tuesday 16/10/2012
Awareness gained along the wayInstead of listening to what my body was trying to tell me, I got really frustrated with my feet.I am feeling a little anxious and excited about the walk coming to an end.
Day 23 O’Cebreiro – Sarria 45.7km – Monday 15/10/2012
I woke early after not sleeping very well. As expected, there was lots of snoring throughout the night!
The walked started off cold and dark but as the hours passed the beauty of the scenery became more and more apparent. We were surrounded by lush greenery and fog. There were many cute animals that just made us smile and stop to take in the moment.
Probably as a result of not having enough rest during the night, Ann and I didn’t keep up with Dave today. As we walked together, the two of us shared many deep and meaningful conversations. I really appreciated being able to talk to her about some of the things back home that I was trying to find clarity on.
We later caught up with Dave at Tricastela and the three of us continued along together. Everything was so green and quiet. When we arrived at Sarria, I went searching for foot pad inserts. My feet were aching after the day’s massive walk.
We stayed in a lovely albergue and Dave cooked up a delicious pasta and salad. I later tried a Mistela shot as we sat talking around the fire and the wonderful Dave massaged my aching feet.
Awareness gained along the way
Sharing stories with relative strangers can give you a different perspective on things and help you to seek the clarity you are after. It is easy to manipulate responses from the people you know by only telling them the positive in situations.
Day 22 Villafranco – O’Cebreiro 30.1km- Sunday 14/10/2012
We woke early and started off in the dark. It felt like Christmas morning. I was so full of excitement not knowing what to expect at our goal destination. Although it was dark and raining and extremely cold in the mountains, I felt alive.
The last 10km was steep, windy and foggy. It was amazing. The wind felt awesome and I could feel change happening within me.
It was snowing and freezing cold when we arrived at O’Cebreiro at around 3pm. We were grateful to be out of the cold and enjoyed an early dinner about an hour later. We had the most delicious Galicia soup and a yummy hot chocolate. We discussed our plans for the next day and decided on a 40km journey. My feet felt sore just thinking about it!
I knew that my Pop’s funeral was taking place at 3am my time so I decided to go to the 7pm mass at O’Cebreiro to say my farewell. It was very overwhelming. I thought of him as I lit a candle in his honour. I felt his presence and much love. The priest spoke in Spanish so I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. I had a little giggle as I imagined Pop laughing and saying, ‘I can’t understand a bloody word he is saying!’
All in all, it was an emotional yet fun and empowering day. I went to bed hoping for a good night’s sleep but didn’t like my chances. The albergue in which we were staying contained 60 beds and they were all full!
Awareness gained along the way
The unknown excites me.
I believe that crazy strong winds are a sign of change.
A church can be a beautiful place in which to feel love no matter what your beliefs are or the religion you follow.
Day 21 Acebo – Villafranca 40.2km – Saturday 13/10/2012
I awoke at 6am feeling refreshed after having the best night’s sleep in the B&B Rosa Del Agua. We set off early and walked the first part of the journey in the dark. It was beautiful watching the sun rise. It felt amazing as we descended the big mountain.
Dave and Ann were further ahead when I had the most amazing experience. I heard a noise and suddenly a big deer came sprinting past in front of me. My heart was pounding so hard. I was so startled. It was the most amazing feeling, the best word to describe is ALIVE!
When we arrived at the busy city of Pongerrada we excitedly checked out the castle. We also took the opportunity to buy some gloves as it was starting to get very cold in the mornings.
We passed many vineyards as we continued on our journey. The surroundings were becoming prettier and prettier. We felt very happy as we arrived in Villafranca. It was gorgeous here. There was one cute place that got my attention and I imagined one day staying and relaxing at a place just like it.
After the bed bug experience we were very picky about where we stayed for the night. We found a nice, clean albergue to stay in and enjoyed an easy dinner of tuna and salad and gelati. After dinner, we explored the town and checked out the Door. According to Ann, the Door had a special history. She told us that if you prayed at the door you were forgiven all your sins in the case that you did not make it to Santiago. We all had a bit of fun with the story.
When we returned to the albergue I was lucky to receive another foot massage from Dave. My feet were not liking the long days of hiking so it was bliss. I was so grateful for Dave’s kindness.
Overall I’d had a great day. I thoroughly enjoyed Ann and Dave’s company.
Before going to sleep, I updated on Facebook knowing that my next update would be when I reached Santiago.
Awareness gained along the way
Mountains make me feel a sense of awe. I feel so inspired.
I was building trust and new friendships.
Sometimes I forget just how amazing nature and animals are – it’s nice to be reminded.
I was starting to see myself relaxing soon as I hit the 602.5km mark.
Day 20 – Astorga – Acebo 38.4km – Friday, 12/10/2013
I woke early this morning and was walking with Dave by 7am. It was dark and cold and we both were excited to hit the mountains. We enjoyed the most delicious hot chocolate outside of Astorga. Along the way we ran into Ann, the Canadian we’d met at Leon, and she walked with us to Marjani. We’d planned to stay here but it was just a one person town and very dodgy looking. As we continued on our way, we passed Aaron. He was very negative and I was happy to give him my best wishes and keep walking. I knew he had a lot of stuff going on and that he had a lot to face with the death of his mum.
Next we visited the mountainous Cruz Hierro. It was AMAZING. I left a stone and used that moment to consciously let go of all the negative emotions I was feeling, thoughts of people who had let me down in the past and the things that had hurt me. I let go of the need to control that which was uncontrollable. I let go of expectations and fear. It felt really liberating. This place had a very heavy and sad energy about it and it was amazing how much lighter my mood felt as soon as we left.
Excitedly, we arrived at Acebo at around 4pm. It was so beautiful. Dave, Ann and I decided to stay in the albergue. It was full however they took us up to a little “backup” albergue which was a lot more private. I put my sleeping bag down straight away and rushed for the first shower. I was disappointed when the water stopped mid-shower. I put on my boy leg undies and shirt and wrote in my diary as I waited a while. About half an hour later I went back in and nearly ran back out when I came face to face with a BED BUG AAARRGGGGHHH! It was on the side of my mattress. I freaked out, squashed it with a tissue, grabbed my belongings and ran out of the albergue like a crazy lady. OMG a bed bug. Ann and Dave couldn’t believe it.
I immediately made the call to stay in the B&B across the road. Instead of paying 5euro to stay the night at the albergue, we split the cost and paid 20Euro each to stay at the B&B. It was so beautiful. I had a cute, soft single bed with a fluffy, floral doona. I felt so content and safe here away from the bed bugs. I fell asleep easily after enjoying a big pilgrim dinner.
Awareness Gained Along the Way
It’s amazing how much lighter your body feels when you make a conscious effort to release all negative emotions and thoughts.
Letting go of my fear of bed bugs is a work in progress… it will take some time.
It’s okay to let go of expectations on others and accept that people will come in and out of my life. Some may be there for the short-term and others for the long-term.
Day 19 Mazarife – Astora 30.1km – Thursday 11/10/2012
When I woke I felt sad and cranky as I’d had a bad night’s sleep. I felt really let down by Aaron who had gotten way too drunk and rather inconsiderately came in the room later in the night jumping on the top bunk I was on. He then spent the rest of the night getting up and down, up and down, vomiting from the drinking. I asked Dave if he could sleep on the top bunk so Aaron wouldn’t wake me again but it wasn’t necessary – Aaron ended up falling asleep on the ground outside.
In the morning, I packed my belongings and left as soon as I could. Dave had already left feeling pretty pissed off as well. Aaron caught up to me not long after and I spoke my truth. I expressed how emotional I was feeling and that I’d just wanted a good night’s sleep. He apologised and we continued the walk at our own pace. He was struggling with his hangover.
I ran into the guys and other pilgrims while taking breaks at the villages along the way. Aaron’s legs were cramping heaps and he was being very negative about it. I found it hard to give him sympathy as it was self-inflicted. I told him he needed electrolytes and that he wouldn’t be able to drink like that if he wanted to do long days of walking. It frustrated me even more that he wouldn’t admit that it was from the self-abuse of drinking too much. I decided to continue to walk by myself. Dave was way ahead.
It was the first day that I hadn’t cramped and I was very content walking alone. I processed a lot of thoughts and emotions and I enjoyed my time out. I was excited about getting to Astorga. Apparently there was a chocolate museum there. Mmmmm chocolate drove me to keep walking!
The journey was still very dry and hilly. At one point I came across a hippy cafe in the middle of nowhere. The main guy running the cafe was like a sex god… he oozed sex appeal and love. It was donation for biscuits, coffee, juice etc. I had some juice and afterwards thought it was a bad call. I then ran into the men I had met back at Castro Jeriz on day 12. They’d skipped part of the journey by taking the bus which I found a little frustrating but I had a good chat to them. One of them had had a heart attack six weeks before doing the Camino. That might have explained why he wasn’t walking the entire trip! He explained that he was doing the Camino to recover his health and that the heart attack had inspired him to make immediate, healthy changes to his lifestyle. It helped make me feel at ease about my dad.
I saw Dave when I arrived at Astorga. We chose an albergue that Dave’s research had shown to be a good one. We ran into the two Germans who had started the walk with Aaron and we shared a four bedroom dorm with them. One of them had about 30 bed bug bites on him which scared the crap out of me! It was my biggest fear on the Camino. We set up our beds and visited the pilgrim museum which was interesting. The cathedral was beautiful. I wanted to have a prayer for Pop but there were too many people in there for me to feel connected. My last stop was the chocolate museum where I enjoyed some delicious chocolate. I still felt a bit sad and cranky but I was enjoying the sightseeing.
Dave cooked up chicken and we shared dinner with the Germans. I met the youngest Pilgrim I had seen on the walk so far. He was so cute. He and his family were from Canada and they had started their pilgrimage at Pamplona.
Aaron arrived later with a very negative mindset. I tried to communicate but felt like my journey with him was coming to an end. I chose to let go of the expectations of him that I could see I’d developed and decided instead to just detach myself from whatever he was doing. He kept to himself tonight. I was grateful for the time we had together.
I was happy to get to bed early and allow my mind and body to heal and recover.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
I was aware of a pattern – of having expectations of others and feeling let down when they did not meet those expectations – and decided that it no longer served me.
I was getting better at speaking my truth and setting boundaries.
I chose how I reacted.
Day 18 Leon – Mazarife – 23.1km – Wednesday 10/10/2012
I slept in til around 8am which was awesome! I started the day with a long soaking bath before heading out to see the cathedral. Aaron didn’t want to pay to go in and I didn’t have much desire to either so we just went visited the public section.
Dave decided to stay a little longer in the city to find a new stopper for his hiking sticks. Meanwhile, Aaron and I made a start on the walk knowing that he would catch up to us. It was a pretty quiet walk, we spent most of the day in our own worlds. It frustrated Aaron when he ran into people along the way whom he’d started the walk with and who were now ahead because they’d skipped parts of the walk by catching a bus. I have to admit that it frustrated me too but the more I saw how Aaron let it affect him, the more I was able to let it go. Each to their own I guess.
I kept stopping along the way to rest as often as possible. My glute kept cramping and I still felt weak. When I stopped with Aaron to have a break at a pub in La Virgen Del Camino, at around the 7km mark, I felt the urge to turn my phone on when I saw there was free Wifi. I had a message from Mum. I phoned her and she broke the news that Pop had died. The news broke my heart. Pop never got to travel and he loved so much that I was over here walking the Camino. He’d said he would be with me every step of the way. I tried not to cry on the phone, I felt so helpless not being there for mum. She’d just had the stress with Dad having a heart attack and now she had the heartache of losing her dad. I didn’t know what to say. I asked her if she wanted me to come home for the funeral and she told me no. She wasn’t able to go to the funeral either as Dad was unable to fly or drive after the operation he’d had on his heart. I just sent my love and was glad that he was now resting in peace after having suffered for months with the cancer.
Dave caught up to us at La Virgen Del Camino and we all left for the next village together. It was another quiet walk. I spent most of the time in my own head feeling very emotional. I was incredibly sad but also felt at peace. I trusted that everything was the way it was meant to be. I believed that the funeral wouldn’t have been a positive experience for my mum and that I wasn’t meant to be there, that she was meant to go through the process without me. It was hard as I wanted to hug her and tell her I loved her. I just had to accept the way it was and trust that it was all for the greater good.
I felt relief when we arrived at Mazarife. It felt like we’d walked 40km when in reality it was only 23km. We stayed at the Albergue De Jesus. I’d actually wanted to stay at the albergue on the right when we walked into the village but I followed the guys who were keen on this one. When we booked in, the manager asked if I wanted to stay in a room with ladies but I chose to stay in a room with four bunks with the guys. They were like family.
It was a very hippy place and it even had a pool. After washing our clothes I went for a swim with Dave. OMG it was freezing!!
I wasn’t feeling like mingling tonight so I just had tuna on rice cakes for dinner and chilled reading my book. There were many people smoking and drinking and it just wasn’t my scene. I’d spoken to Aaron quite a lot over the last few days about not drinking much and instead living a healthy lifestyle. He’d been asking me for advice about it so I felt frustrated to see him smoking and drinking.
As the night went on, I went to the room to continue reading. I was really grateful for the foot massage Dave gave me before he headed back out to mingle. The guys had one of the bunks in the room and I had the other to myself. Although I normally chose to sleep on the top bunk, I took the opportunity to sleep on the bottom for a change. I put my ear plugs in but still tossed and turned a lot while trying to get to sleep. I felt so emotional from everthing that had been happening.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
Being kind to myself helped my body to heal and refuel.
I was starting to have expectations of people.
I need to trust my gut straight away and not follow the crowd.
It’s not worth worrying about how people choose to do things. Each to their own.
I shut myself out from everyone when I need to feel my emotions.
Everything was starting to seem clearer and I was starting to trust that everything was exactly the way it was meant to be.
Day 17 Reliegos – Leon – 22.1km 9/10/2012
I woke today feeling 20 times better than the day before. It was like I’d woken from a really bad dream. I’d definitely shifted a lot throughout the night. Today I really wanted to get to Leon where I knew there was a hospital. It was just over 20km away. Aaron and Dave didn’t want to leave me by myself so they came with me. I was determined to make it there so I kept up the hydration and food.
I felt okay until I reached Villarente. My tummy and legs were cramping and I started to feel like death. I called a friend at home as my stomach was so swollen it freaked me out. I wasn’t sure if I should stop and get an ambulance or keep shuffling to Leon. My friend told me that it was most likely from being extremely dehydrated and that if it got too much I should call an ambulance. I pushed through slowly to Leon.
“In you go,” was Dave’s words as we walked past the hospital in Leon. I refused telling them that I just wanted to get to a hotel, shower and eat and then see how was feeling. So we agreed to all go in on a hotel. We chose Luna, a 4-star hotel that had a room with three single beds. It was great, so close to the CBD. The guys were really thoughtful and let me get settled in, giving me space so that I could have a relaxing bath. It was heaven. Although I hadn’t known them long, the guys felt like close brothers to me. I trusted them completely and felt safe and comfortable with them.
I spoke to mum and she was happy I had arrived in Leon, close to a hospital. She kept telling me to stop the walk and to just get a bus. There was no way that was going to happen. I was here for the walk. I reassured her though that if the I needed to I would stop and rest. I had no particular end date so I had no intention of stopping what it was that I came here for. Mum updated me on everything that was happening at home. She told me that dad was doing well and that he had stopped smoking, was eating healthier, drinking less and even exercising. I was so happy to hear this. Unfortunately, my Pop wasn’t doing as well though. I was saddened to hear that he hadn’t received any of my postcards as yet but glad when Mum told me he was loving hearing about my trip and that he was really proud of me.
After settling in, we all had a look around the city. I bought some more postcards for my family. We ran into lots of pilgrims. Aaron saw some people he had started off with and I met a lovely New Zealand woman called Jess who was about the same age as me. I didn’t have that much energy but enjoyed sharing stories.
I felt so relieved to be feeling better and to have my appetite back. We ate at a lovely restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious chicken salad. Aaron was keen to stay out a little longer after dinner but I was ready to crash for the night. Dave kindly walked back with me. Lucky he did. We ended up getting lost on our way back to the hotel. It was a little stressful not having any idea of where we were. We first got directions off a passerby that turned out to be wrong. Then we spoke to a lovely couple who were happy to help. To Dave’s amusement, I used my fantastic signing to explain the front and back of the hotel. He was in hysterics. He said it funny how I must have thought that the slower I spoke and the more I used my hands, the more they would understand. I realised later how silly I must have looked and sounded to the locals. Thankfully it paid off though and we made it back to the hotel, followed shortly after by Aaron. The three of us crashed for the night hoping for a sleep-in the next morning.
Awareness Gained Along The Way
It’s amazing how light you can feel once you let go of so much suppressed sadness.
It’s nice to have friendships with males that don’t have any hidden agendas.