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.
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.