MIND AND BODY 
Making adventure beautiful...

Lessons in life

Melinda’s Camino de Santiago 2012 – Day 21

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 20

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.

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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.

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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.

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 19

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 18

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Mazarife – Cute couple in love

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.

 

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 17

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.

 

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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…

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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.

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 15

Day 15 – San Nicolas – rest day  – SICK

DEATH. That was the word that described how I felt today. I had the most severe diarrhea. The pain throughout the night was so incredible it made me cry. I had to go to the toiled so often that I ended up lying on the lounge near the toilet. I tried not to wake anyone as I didn’t want to have to rely on anyone. It was awful.

Although I didn’t want to burden anyone, I was really grateful when Dave and Aaron chose to stay with me.  Aaron wasn’t feeling too crash hot himself. He was convinced he had some bug too. Despite having blisters all over his feet, Dave walked 16km to the nearest village with a chemist to buy some medication and hydration for us. We didn’t know if it was a virus or something in the water or what we had eaten. Dave wasn’t sick so we didn’t think it was the food. The guys made me drink the hydralights and tried to get me to eat as well. I couldn’t keep anything down. I managed to eat half a banana all day.

I phoned my loved ones at home to let them know how I was feeling. It was the last thing my family wanted to hear. I told them that I’d be okay and that it was probably just a bug. I didn’t want to worry them but all I could keep thinking was that I needed to get to a hospital.

I’d traveled a total of 440km and I was determined not to let this stop me. I didn’t care how long I had to rest to get better, stopping was not an option.

Awareness Gained Along The Way

You can put your body under stress and not listen to what it’s trying to tell you but after awhile it will start shutting down until you do.

A day of rest and sleep was exactly what my body needed.

Actions speak louder than words. By doing what he did to help me, Dave showed that he cared and valued our friendship. It was refreshing.

I like to be as independent as possible but I needed help this day. The universe reminded me that we can’t do it alone all of the time.

Melinda’s Camino De Santiago 2012 – Day 14

Day 14 – Villarmentero – San Nicolas – 42.9km

I didn’t write in my diary today. I felt sad, lost and lonely and kept to myself for most of the day. It was hot and long. I listened to meditations, Aaron rapping and random music on my iPod. I just let myself feel a lot today.

Throughout the day, when we stopped for a chat, I opened up to Aaron and Dave about life back home. I told them how confused I was with decisions that needed to be made. We all had our own stories to share and we just listened to one another. It was really comforting.

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I remember stopping at a place at around the 30km mark. My body was sore and tired. There were people there chilling out, enjoying wine and food but we just kept walking. The walking helped me to process my feelings about so many things.

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When we arrived in San Nicolas, we found that there was only one place to stay. It was a quaint albergue with only two other people staying there. I was so thirsty from the walk as they say not to drink from the taps in the Meseta. I made up for it at San Nicolas, drinking lots of water from the bar.

I went to bed early and read my book. I felt so emotionally drained and tired.

Awarness Gained Along The Way

I can easily keep moving and stay busy to avoid feelings.

I was starting to trust more and open up about my personal life.

Being on a road with no sight of the end can play total mind games on you. It can test you emotionally, mentally and physically.

 

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.