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.
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.
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.
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.
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.