Category Archives: camino de santiago

60 Times Around

The last time I walked the Camino, I cried on my first day.  That’s how hard it was.  The first day especially.

The 10th day was the hardest.  On the 10th day, I hit the wall from not getting enough protein.  I had to rest on the 10th day.  I literally couldn’t move.

I have to walk 25 kilometers on that first day.  Break that down into America’s language, that’s 15 miles.  One mile is 4 times around a track.  4 times 15 is 60.

It’s like walking 60 times around a standard track.  Yesterday I walked 12 times around so, 3 miles.  And my feet started to ache and my left knee cramped up.  On a technologically advance cushioned track with no ups or downs.

I did wear my ankle weights.  Only a pound and a half on each foot.

The thing about walking the track is the boredom.  I forgot how boring walking can be.  And since I already walked the Camino once already – I’ve seen all that stuff, it’s nothing new.  Which only compounds to the boredom I’ll have to face.  I’ll be in pain and I’ll be bored.  At the end of the day I can look forward to a bland simple dinner, not enough to satiate my hunger and on top of that, I’ll be bunking with 300 strangers in a dank gothic style church.  On that first day, there’s no shopping plaza’s or restaurants around for miles.

I have to pack more food.  Extra food for dinner and a little something for the following mornings breakfast – stuff I wish I knew the first time I walked.

15 miles equates to walking from my house to the middle of New Haven, possibly a little further than its middle. It’ll take me at least 8 hours.  It would take me 6 hours without breaks and if the path was completely flat.

I can’t believe I’m walking this shit again just to lose weight.  I hated it the first time.  I loathed it.

I’ve been keeping up with walking every single day.  My stomach looks like it’s slimming down, but I still weigh the same.  And my slim stomach may just be an optical illusion.  My pants don’t feel any looser.

Today I will attempt to hike up my big little mountain with my ankle weights on.  It’s going to be torture.

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Just Another Gut Wrenching Normal Day in the Life of Mel

I hardly work, but I still find myself busy every stinking hot sticky day of the week.  I woke up a few days ago and decided I needed to start a food truck business as soon as possible.  I spent hours pouring over any information I could find online.  None of it was in one place.  I wrote down every possible license I’d need, every possible permit and searched for used food trucks on eBay and Craigs list.

I had an insane urge to open a food truck business – an INSANE urge.  A scathing, stressful, eye-popping urge.  Why did I have this toe curling, life or death asphyxiation towards starting a food truck business?  Because I’m broke as shit.  I can’t even cook!

I hired a financial planner, so now I can finally get a sense of how much money I have in the bank.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  I’m one broke ass bitch.

Last month was quarterly taxes, property taxes, and I bought a plane ticket to Spain.  When I realized the impending financial doom I was facing, I nearly clawed my eyes out.  My answer was to open a food truck.

For at least the last 3 days I was obsessed with this food truck idea.  Every moment was spent on my laptop in my hot musty room frantically pouring over my options.  Did I mention I was stressed?  Oh yes, there was stress.

When I wasn’t stressing about my newest venture, I went hiking up my little big mountain.  I went 3 days in a row and each time I completed it, while I was walking back to my car, I didn’t have that fresh feeling of relief or accomplishment, no, I had the most rueful scowl on my face.

Me – “This is such bullshit.  Fucking bullshit.”

Again, the trail has kicked my ass.  I go almost everyday to hike up that god awful place, risking my precious ankles from rolling or cracking my skull open on a sharp rock (they are everywhere pointing out of the dirt like daggers!)

But it doesn’t matter how many times I attempt it, it’s not getting any easier.  Granted, if it was cooler out it may be a different story.  I don’t know.  I just don’t fucking know.  I can feel those 30 extra pounds every time I walk up that hill and have to take those large steps up the rocks – the same rocks I used to fly up 5 years ago.

Me – “I can never let myself get like this again.  Never again.  I have to diet God dammit.”

And when I’m not doing any of the above activities, I’ve been keeping social and hanging out with friends.  Seriously, who has time to work?  I’m freaking exhausted!

Tomorrow I’m stopping in at work to check the phones since my office manager isn’t there on the weekend, then hike up my big little mountain, stop at the grocery store for a snack to bring to my friends cabaret play later that day.  It would be wise to not shower in the morning and to wait until after my hike.  I hate showing twice in one day.  I never needed to before, when I was 30 pounds lighter.  I never sweat like I do now.

I keep fantasizing about how awesome I’ll look after walking across Spain.  Not just look, I don’t care how I look.  But I feel like a lazy fat shit is what it is.  I want to feel better.

I’m trying to amp myself up for the Camino by listening to audiobooks about trekking.  Right now I’m listening to Wild by Cheryl Strayed and it’s depressing the shit out of me.  Much of it is about her having to deal with the loss of her mother – something I never want to think about or deal with ever in my life.  The book is too wishy-washy and makes me miserable.  I cried while listening to it during my hike today.  That’s not invigorating.

Can you imagine seeing a 170 pound woman with a beat red face, sweating her balls off while crying into her water bottle and meandering through the woods alone?  That was me today.  Go on, try to picture it, I’ll wait.  It’s a sad sight, see what I mean?  Now picture me trying to hoist myself up over the rocks with my fat ass.  Go on, picture it.

But the book did end up amping me up for the Camino.  So much so that I want to go on another pilgrimage in March to Shikoku island in Japan.  That one is much more expensive than the Camino but only if I stay at Minshuku’s, paid accommodations, everyday.  They have free places for Henro’s (pilgrims), but you should call in advance for them and if you don’t know Japanese, you’re SOL.  The biggest shit stick about trekking Shikoku is having to call accommodations in advance.  At most, Shikoku will cost me $100 a day for 60 days, so $6000.  The Camino costs $2000 for 40 days.

Damn, it’s already midnight.  I’m going to watch the season finale of Fear the Walking Dead and go to sleep.  Damn damn, I forgot I need to buy lotion for the business – there goes another $100 freaking dollars.

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Laying Around and Buying Shit on Amazon

That’s what makes America great!

It was too hot to hike, so I laid in bed listening to Awaken Online: Catharsis, an audiobook that got really good reviews on Audible.  I Love it.

And I bought shit online.

One such thing that I bought is my plane ticket to Spain.  I decided to buy it now because I was worried the price would go up.  It cost $566 which ain’t bad I guess.

I bought a round-trip ticket to Santiago, that’s where my walk ends.  I can bus it to the airport in less than an hour for my flight home.  No fuss, no muss.

On the way there, however, I have a layover in Madrid which works out perfectly since I can hop out at Madrid and take a domestic flight to St Jean Pied de Port for $66.  I found a small airport next to St Jean Pied de Port, I swear that airport wasn’t there last time I hiked the Camino.

I’m already dreading it…..the hike.  I leave October 10th and come home November 19th which leaves me with plenty of time to complete it.  It just sucks, having to do it again.

Okay, we all know how lazy I am, right?  I’m fucking lazy.  I worked today for a total of 20 minutes and for the rest of the day?  Nada.  I woke up at 12 noon and listened to my audiobook for about 8 hours.  After the 8 hours, I bought a plane ticket to Spain so I don’t have to exercise or diet on a regular basis.  I can lose the weight all at once in one month.

I’m too lazy to exercise so I’m hiking 500 miles across Spain.  That makes about as much sense as me starting my own business because I don’t want to work anymore.

I’m accomplishing more as a lazy person than I’d ever hope to accomplish as a productive one, that is, aside from having babies and getting married.  You either do or you don’t with those things, there’s no in-between.  You can’t push a baby back into your uterus and I believe in only getting married once, otherwise, what’s the point?  It’ll be like dating with a shared bank account.  No thank you.

My Aunt Marie died Monday morning.  If they did an autopsy, it would conclude she died from a drug overdose that the hospice kept pumping in her.  She would’ve had a few more weeks, if not months – years even, if not for all those meds.  But she couldn’t live with the pain.

These next two days are going to be hard.  Wake and the funeral split up in two days.

She’s why I’m hiking the Camino again, really.  Life’s too short.

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A Hero’s Journey

This really is an incredible journey I’m experiencing. It feels like the Camino was so long ago, but when did it end? 9 days ago? 9 days equates to a lifetime in travel years. It’s a distant but strong memory.

Last night I went clubbing in Madrid and today I scoped out a Salvador Dali exhibit. The exhibit happened at a museum called Reina Sofia. It’s much like New York’s MOMA in that you have no idea what any of the art means. It’s possible to see a bowl full of chewed up slimy gummy bears on display.

(I just thought of the gummy bear display, it’s not an actual exhibit.)

I brought my new Australian friend with me.

I had no clue what I was looking at half the time and started feeling drugged and confused. Everything was bugging me out in a creepy nightmarish sort of way. Especially when we entered into a dark room where creepy music played and a painting laid on the floor with a few random rectangles painted on it. A bench sat against the wall.

Me – “Maybe if we sat and looked at the painting, it will start to make sense.”

So we sat.

Me – “Okay now you stand on the bench and I’ll lay on the floor.”

We burst out in hysterics. Nothing in the room made sense.

We entered into a room where a blonde woman stood violently shaking a large tin container of nails. It was so loud and she kept shaking and shaking.

Then she put down the tin container and started climbing up a very short rope. It’s mesmerizing in that you want to understand the point of it and so it pulls you in. Your curiosity battles against logic and reason.

Usually when you don’t see the point in something, you drop it and move on. But when you keep asking yourself “why?” over and over again, trying to understand, it hooks you in a cycle. But there is no point to it. The only point that I can think of is that people are watching and as long as they’re watching, the performer will continue to preform.

There is no end to it and where there is no definitive end, there is no definitive purpose. But hey, it sure makes you think though. Everyone’s perspective’s are different. The more diverse the perspectives, the less truth there is behind anything. Which makes life so interesting and involving!

To be able to snap out of the trance and say to yourself and to others, “Hold the phone now, wait a tick… What the hell is this?” And then let it go.

Life can be a pointless trance until you awaken yourself from it.

Anyway, the woman’s name is Simone Forti and you can find her on YouTube.

I’m exhausted. It’s midnight and my two roomies are awake with the light on. One on a laptop, the other on her phone. I have to be up by 6:30am tomorrow so I can make it to my plane to Barcelona on time.

Tomorrow will be a long exhausting day.

Okay, I should try to sleep. My arms are getting numb from holding my phone like this.

I am seriously not capturing my trip properly. I’m barely able to keep track of 10% of it.

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Travelers diarrhea. A true heroic tale of triumph over struggle.

I’m in Madrid suffering from stomach upset. This is the first time I’m experiencing travelers diarrhea. And oh man it sucks.

I’m afraid to leave my hostel. It’s hitting me in waves that keep building in strength until I run to the bathroom again and again.

Oh no it’s happening again….

Now I’m on the toilet.

Holy crap…

If this happened to me in the Santiago cathedral then it really would be holy crap.

I hope this is the last of it.

There’s so much to see here and I only have 4 days. I picked hostels located in the city center so everything is a mere 20 minute walk. No need for bus or taxi.

But I can’t get off the pot or stray too far from it. I’m completely helpless.

Ok, am I done? I mean in the bathroom, am I done here?

I also feel waves of nausea. I take a deep swallow.

Uhhhh……..

Now I have the chills. Traveling is rougher than it looks.

I feel well enough to go see the Egyptian monument that they had shipped here, but I know I’ll get a ping in my gut again shortly.

Last night my stomach pain was so bad.

I ate a weird tortilla at the airport yesterday that looked as though it had been sitting out for a while. My gut told me not to chance it, but my trust and hunger outweighed my fear.

Or it could be from that creamy liquor I chugged down, but I doubt it’s that.

I feel so tired and weak. Maybe I should just lay in the park. The park is a must – see. Plus it has this thing called the crystal palace in it.

Ugh….

Yep, the pings are back…

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I’m a nobody and I like it that way!

I had insomnia last night. My thoughts did not stop.

I miss my laptop the most out of everything back home. To lay in bed and just write and write – absolutely splendid.

I think I need to be a nobody for a while. Maybe that’s why I came to Spain. I came wanting a change in perspective, but first I have to shed my old skin.

I need to become a nobody first. Burn and bury the pages of my book. Both the written and the unwritten. I have literally done that before. 15 years worth.

I don’t need to do anything, be anything or anyone. I’m not special.

Lets drill this into your thick megalomanic skull Mel: You are not special. You are not special. You are a nobody, a nothing. And guess what? It’s okay.

I need to let it all go for a while and just be. It sounds self defacing, but it’s supposed to be liberating.

Ew I can totally hear everything the guy in the next room is doing and it’s disgusting!

I’m laying in bed in my hotel room, and the guy next to me, with our paper thin walls, is making me sick to my stomach! Every phlegm wad scarfed up, every wet fart splattering the toilet – I mean this guy has it all! Think of the most disgusting sounds the human body can make and you have my next door neighbor.

Wow, why the hell would I ever want one of these vile creatures to take home so I can sleep next to it every night? Is this how men sound when they get old? Does my dad hide these sounds from me?

Do I sound like that? No, no way. I’m a civilized dainty rose petal even in private.

I haven’t made a peep this whole time, but over in phlegm palace, they’re working on snot and ass bubbles.

I would not want his room after him. Those poor maids.

Anyway, back to my original business….

I’m a nobody I’m a nobody I’m a nobody.

Would a nobody be disgusted over snot man? No. A nobody just is. A nobody lets things be as they are just as she be’s how she is.

Okay, that last part sounds a trite grammatically incorrect.

I’m a Nobodynobodynobodynobody.

Okay, do I feel better? Does it feel like the pressure is off a bit?

I feel complete anger and horror over sharing a wall with this man. I can almost smell him! He sounds like Jabba the Hutt with a sinus infection.

Now he’s on the phone.

I can’t make out the sound quality of this vid. It’s him talking so you can get an idea of how thin the walls are.

I’m such a dumbass. It’s because of this man that kept me awake last night! He kept farting tremendously loud and hacking up Jabba phlegm. I forgot all about it until now.

He’s getting in the way of my personal development of becoming a nobody. He doesn’t realize that I’m hard at work over here trying to embody nothingness.

Speaking of nothingness, that’s what I did today. I ate at my favorite Italian restaurant and then at my favorite toppa’s restaurant. Then I sat in the park and laid myself down under a tree listening to a free classic audiobook, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It’s about three gay guys.

Then I came back here to my hotel. My pilgrim friends all went home save but a few that are hard to contact.

I leave tomorrow for Madrid.

I’m going to stick on my sticky pilgrim pants and go out for a smokey before bed.

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My view from the park earlier. And hey you know what else? I did a satellite image of the cathedral on my phone and it’s in the shape of a cross!

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Anyway….

I’m not special. I’m nobody.

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Melanie tackles Santiago

Here’s another video of me in Santiago.

It’s funny how I came here to Europe all by myself, but as I aimlessly walk up and down these cobbled streets in this old historic place, I see the same faces that I’ve been seeing for the past 5 weeks and I don’t feel like a stranger here.

And in my well worn pilgrims attire, I’m not considered a stranger even to those I haven’t met yet.

When people know your purpose, know why you’re here and what you’re doing, they feel they know you and are more apt to show you a warm welcome. Just as it is when you, yourself, know your own purpose. You know yourself and are able to adopt a forgiving self-compassion and knowledge that is otherwise absent when self-awareness is lost.

Have I written about that yet? I forgot. It sounds vaguely familiar. I’m sure that I did.

Anyway, here’s another visual memory for the future me to look back on:

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Melanie on vacation

I deleted all my music so now I have a ton of video space. Be prepared to be bombarded by videos.

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My First Day Off

Yesterday after making that video, I was so tired, hungry, cold and damp that I wanted nothing more than to find shelter for the night.

I never ventured into the cathedral. It was already 8pm.

And so I whipped out my trusty smart phone and went on booking.com. I searched for hotels using my current location and learned which ones had vacancies along with their rates. I booked my hotel and then used my phone to find it.

What did people do before smart phones? I could not imagine traveling solo without one unless I had a ton of money to spend. Money makes me feel safer somehow.

Anyway, I attract characters wherever I go. Not people, but characters. I attracted this french man who spoke fluent French and Spanish but not a lick of English. He kept insisting that he help me, but he was pointing me in the wrong direction and not understanding or listening to anything I said.

He stopped several people asking them where a street was – some random street that I wasn’t even looking for.

Me – “No it’s okay I’m not looking for that street. I’m looking for Hotel Windsor. It’s right up here.”

He talked and pointed some more, stopping another person to ask nonsensical questions.

Him – “She said far. Very far.”

Me – “Hotel Windsor. Aqui.”

I told him the street I wanted. We were on it. I told him we were on it, but he kept pointing and shaking his head until a woman came over who heard everything and told him we were on the right street.

It was a comical scene. Something from Monty Python. I was losing patience with this guy who insisted on helping me and walking with me.

When I got into my hotel room, I stripped down to nothing and buried my body under the blankets. It felt truly marvelous. The only thing I lacked was food.

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Day 36

Walking 40 kilometers from Alzua to Santiago. Actually I think it’s more like 45 kilometers.

That’s far!

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