MIND AND BODY 
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Castro Jeriz

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 13

Day 13 Castro Jeriz – Villarmentero – 35.1km

I started walking in the dark just after 7am. It was a little scary on my own but also amazing. I loved that the walk went straight up a massive hill. I loved the burn in my legs. I was curious about what I’d find at the top and loved the feeling of the sun coming up.

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I could see two people in the distance and by the time I reached the top I had caught up with them. It was Aaron and Dave. I was happy to see them. We caught out breath as we took in the amazing view. It was the start of The Meseta and everything looked so dry. I’d heard a lot of talk about the Meseta. Apparently a lot of people skip this part of the walk, saying that’s boring – too dry and flat. I personally was excited to experience it myself.

We spread out as we continued down the hill at our own pace. Aaron and Dave both had their ipods in and I thought I would try some meditation. Walking and meditating – totally my style of meditation. It felt like a full body cleanse, absolutely amazing. It felt good to breathe deeply and, although I’d still had a running nose in the morning, I felt like I was finally kicking the cold/virus that I’d had. I could feel my strong self returning.

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I had so many laughs with the guys along the way. Aaron was an amazing rapper. I love rap and sometimes I think I make a great  little hip hop dancer when I want to so it was fun walking with this really cool guy. He had the hand movements and all.

We called into a great albergue along at way at Boadilla that had a pool and delicious food. The guy made us whatever we asked for. If it wasn’t so early in the walk we would have stayed there for sure. Soon after we were joined on our walk by some rather unusual pilgrims. A herd of sheep sped past us, lightening the atmosphere and having us in stitches. It was an awesome feeling.

 

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The last 15km was very flat and long, it seemed never-ending. We were all so happy to reach Villarmentero. There was only one albergue and it had a real hippy feel to it. I had tepee tents and an open paddock. Before picking out our beds, we enjoyed a delicious Malibu and pineapple juice. OMG it was amazing. Dave is a chef so he decided to cook us up a storm for dinner. I used the time before dinner to chill out, washing my clothes, reading my book and writing in my diary.

After dinner, just as the sun was going down, I turned my phone on and I had messages from my mum, my ex and my brother. To my surprise my mum called at that moment. She hadn’t called yet, only messaged. When I answered, I immediately knew that something was wrong. She told me that my Dad had had a mild heart heart, that he’d just had surgery and that he’d be okay. I later learned that it was actually a major heart attack and that my mum had chosen not to tell me and worry me with this. I was so shocked. Tears instantly came out. I was so confused I had to ask if she meant her dad or my dad. I knew that my Pop was unwell so I thought that she might have meant him. I couldn’t believe it when she said, “your dad”. I cried so hard. My dad is invincible. An amazingly, strong man. The only man in my life who has never let me down. And as cliche as it sounds, my Dad is my hero.

This was just so unexpected. I immediately started wondering how long it would take me to walk to the next village… I was already 60km out of Burgos and 100km away from Leon – the only two places I could get a train from to the airport. I told mum that I’d come home but she told me to stay, reassuring me that Dad would be okay. She told me that he was going to stop smoking and look after his health. I trusted her and felt for her. I knew mum was already struggling with her dad’s ill health and needed my dad to be strong for her. I am normally the one that tries to keep it together for the family and I worried about how she we cope with me not there.

The ladies in the room had heard me on the phone and they all hugged me and tried to reassure me that all would be okay. When I went outside the other pilgrims were sitting around a campfire. A talented Aussie was playing a little guitar and singing. It was magical. We all sat around, sharing dark chocolate and red wine, zoning out. I felt incredibly sad and helpless but also very grateful to have such loving, caring friends with me. Aaron and Dave already felt like family to me after just one day of walking together.

 

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I went to bed and cried myself to sleep praying that everyone back home would be okay.

Awareness Gained Along The Way

All Hungarian men seem kind.

My family means everything to me.

I chose to look for the gift in the awful situation back home. My dad’s heart attack meant that he was going to live a healthier lifestyle free of smoking and mum was becoming stronger to handle the stressful situation without me there.

The positive experiences I was having on my journey were helping me to forget the pain I had been experiencing back home after my recent relationship breakup.

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 12

Day 12 Burgos – Castro Jeriz 41.2km

I awoke at 6am and although it wasn’t the best sleep I felt empowered, excited and more energetic than I had for days. I was out walking by 6:45am with my headlamp on. It was still dark and hard to see the arrows in the city. There were lots of turns, my heart was racing. Whenever I had a moment of fear I just kept telling myself that I could do it, that I was strong enough, that I was safe.

I hadn’t seen an arrow for a while, it was still quite dark and I couldn’t see a pilgrim in sight. I started to freak out, my confident girl-power-mindset was fading. I was desperately hoping to see another pilgrim. Soon after, I saw two men approaching in the distance. I called out, “Hola! Santiago! Where are the arrows?”.  I realised that they didn’t speak a word of English. With the amazing ability I’d recently acquired to sign, I demonstrated an arrow. They looked at me strangely and said, ‘Si si’ (yes yes). They were walking very quickly. I stayed within metres of them. We didn’t say many words. Tirso and Jon were both Spanish. Tirso was an opera singer and entertained us along the way. We really connected and before too long they were sharing food with me, singing opehra, sharing photos of their family, explaining north/south/east/west and how to follow the sun as it takes you to Santiago. They were truly amazing men.

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Yet again, Sandor managed to find me in a cafe having a break around the 10km mark. I really didn’t think I would see him again. As always, he gave me the biggest smile and hug and told me he would see me in Santiago. I felt relieved that he chose to continue his journey alone.

We arrived at Hontana, 30 km away. I felt the best I had on the Camino so far. I loved walking and being in the moment. Along the way, I met Aaron, a very interesting man from New York. He was on his own pilgrimage to spread his mum’s ashes at Finisterre, I was so interested and amazed with his passion for poetry and life. He was planning to walk to Castro Jeriz, so we headed off together.

It was such a beautiful walk. My body hurt but in a good way. I was grateful to experience my walk with the kind Spanish men.

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I had a lot of time to myself to think today. I had so many ideas of sharing my journey with those back home. One of those was a book titled, “How to lose 5kg of emotional baggage via the Camino’. It made me think of my loved ones at home, how much I missed them and what I wanted in life.

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When we arrived in the small village of Castro Jeriz, we found an albergue which was very basic and old. Aaron could speak Spanish, giving us an in with the locals at the bar close by.  Aaron was so interesting. He had so much to share and he was so passionate when he spoke.

To my surprise I ran into Peter again. My rest day in Burgos allowed him to catch up. It was great to hear how he was going.

Together we shared a lovely family dinner. I met two Polish men who were in their early 50’s and another man, Dave, from Hungary.

After a lot of conversation and laughs, I went drifted off to sleep, excited for another beautiful day ahead.

Awareness Gained Along The Way

I am often too independent and stubborn to ask for help.

I am more creative when I am by myself in nature.

There is beauty in connections without the need for talking.

Too easily, I let excitement take precedence over what is best for my body. Having been so sick for may days, I really should have had an easier day.