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Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 16

Day 16 – San Nicolas – Reliegos 42.1km

I woke feeling sensitive but keen to walk. I ate a banana and bread for energy and had lots of electrolytes.

I took my time, careful not to overdo things. The guys were happy to walk at my pace as Dave still had blisters and Aaron wasn’t feeling too crash hot after his upset tummy too. We stopped at the cafe first where I bought some more plain food and more electrolytes to settle my tummy. I ran into Sandra who told me she’d also been sick. It seemed that there was a bad virus going around. Although not as bad as the day before, I still had to stop a few times along the way and it wasn’t pretty.

When we arrived in Calzadilla my body felt tired and started to cramp. We rested and I took more electrolytes. I looked at the guide book that Llew had lent me. He’d written notes throughout it and I felt a little overwhelmed when I saw he’d written, ‘LONGEST day ever’ at this stage of the trip. I felt tired but I knew the guys wanted to continue. They’d stopped to support me so I felt I owed it to them to continue on. I told myself that it was only 20km, that it was flat and that we would reach our destination in four hours. Easy…


I was wrong. About 5km down the road, my right glute started cramping, so badly that I had to stop to stretch it out. At this point, the guys were out of sight. It was the last Roman road in Spain and it was long, rocky and hot. There were no trees and no shade to rest in. I felt sick and in pain. I cried and cried and cried. The tears were flowing down my face and every heartbreak and every emotion came flooding over me.

After another hour of limping, I saw Aaron in the distance. He was sitting on the side of the road. He was struggling with walking on the rocks and his feet were hurting badly. We rested together. I felt frustrated, in pain and full of self-doubt. I actually wanted to give up. At one point, I lied in the fetal position in tears and felt that I could just stay there and sleep. After a while, Aaron told me to harden up and convinced me with his motivating words to get up and continue on.

I was so desperate to get to the next village that I kept thinking I could see it in the distance. At one point, Aaron called out that he could see it ahead. As we got closer though we realised it wasn’t. It was just a bloody tree. I was so mad I wanted to punch Aaron but I didn’t have the energy to. I couldn’t even talk back which was unusual for me!

Thankfully Aaron kept motivating me… just a little further, another hour, another hour. It was like I had my own Anthony Robins with me. Still, the sun was starting to set and I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long. I knew the distance and it had been flat. Well, I thought I’d known. It turns out that we had taken the long route which was an extra 5km. I later learned that not many pilgrims take the Roman road because it is so awful.

I felt immense relief as the village Reliegos appeared in the distance at 7:30pm. For real this time! The tears started pouring out, I cried like a baby. I went into panic mode, total drama princess style. As we came into the village, Dave and an older Spanish man came running towards us. The Spanish man kept saying, ‘Relajarse! Relajarse!’ meaning, ‘relax, relax’. I had a choice to go to a private albergue or to the municipal. I chose to go to the municipal with the Spanish man as he seemed so caring and made me feel safe. The municipal was old and dirty with marks all over the mattresses but I didn’t care. I even laid my head on the pillow without putting my sleeping bad liner over it first… yuck.

Dave stayed with me for a bit and made sure I had plenty of water and Hydra drinks. He’d been organising a car to come searching for us before we arrived. He knew that Aaron and I would have been struggling with the walk. We all struggled. It was a huge day – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Once I’d had a shower and calmed down I spoke to my family at home to let them know I was okay. I went straight to bed in the hope that I would be feeling better in the morning. My tummy was so sore. I felt exhausted and frustrated with myself.

Awareness Gained Along The Way

I realised that I was still being stubborn and not listening to my body. The universe was getting my attention and making me realise that I’m not as invincible or as strong as I think. It really hurt my ego.

I also need some motivation at times. The nature of my job has me motivating others all the time and it felt amazing to be on the receiving end.

Being at my lowest point physically brought up emotions that I hadn’t felt in years. The tears were a result of letting go of a lot of pain from the past.

I need to be more conscious of signs. The guide book was a warning. Instead of taking it on board, I mistakenly challenged it.

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