Days 31 & 32: Melide to Salceda to Monte del Gozo (AKA “Slow Down”)

Since Special K and I parted ways in Melide (we call Drew ‘Special K’ because when he feels like crushing some kilometers he can be real special), I have really enjoyed my alone time on the Camino. After I posted my last blog in Melide, I took myself out for a meal – a NON Pilgrim Meal – and enjoyed some yummy food and excellent service. Check out this gorgeous spread!

I left on Friday morning from Melide and set out for my next destination. It was crazy to start and see the remaining kilometers begin to creep below 50. The total distance of this thing is close to 800km and I can’t believe how far I have traveled on my feet thus far. But if you looked at my shoes you would know that I had “crushed some K,” as we say. Most of the walk was through lush forests of evergreens, oak and eucalyptus. And a good part of the day was damp and humid with the promise of rain. Somehow I have managed to avoid the worst rain every single day we have had precipitation. Only four days of rain thus far my entire Camino!

I arrived to my albergue, about 400m off the Camino, and had a lovely bunk in a room with a total of eight beds – really swanky and pretty place! For some reason the albergue owner remembered my first name, and all afternoon/evening, whenever she saw me, it was “Si, Ashley.” “Denada, Ashley!” “Ashley!” She clearly loved saying my name and it made me smile. All the other guests couldn’t understand why she knew my name and she and I just passed on a secret smile – like it was this weird game we were playing that no one else was invited to join.

After a great night’s sleep, I headed out in the misty pre-dawn glow and made my way closer toward Santiago. Again through dense forests and wondering if an elf was going to jump into the pathway and shock me. For some strange reason, I keep feeling like magical creatures are going to cross my path along the Camino. I saw a gorgeous rainbow today while walking and it looked as if it was pointing right into the city center – my final destination. So maybe a leprechaun would meet me for a tortilla and coffee? Before I knew it, I was a mere five kilometers from Santiago, so I dug my heels into the ground and forced myself to stop. I said I would do this in 33 days and tomorrow is Day 33. I have to save a little walking for the last day!

So tonight I sit in the kitchen of an albergue, eating some gross pasta I cooked with limited resources and enjoying a tasty bottle of vino tinto. (I keep offering to every pilgrim that comes into the kitchen but have yet to receive any takers!) Two of my trail buddies are in Santiago and celebrated last night – I will join tomorrow and look forward to an early arrival into the city and then mass at noon. I emailed the cathedral to see if there was any way I could possibly sing “Ave Maria” in the service but haven’t heard anything.

So it’s really happening. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my body has managed to do this all without too much trouble. I thought I should perhaps do a run down for everyone of where I’ve walked and to calculate my total kilometers (according to the Brierley book and not adjusted for any elevation change!), so here it goes:

Day 1: St Jean Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles (25.1 km)

Day 2: to Larrasoaña (27.2 km)

Day 3: to Cizur Menor (20.6 km)

Day 4: to Puente La Reina (21.9 km)

Day 5: to Estella (21.9 km)

Day 6: to Torres del Rio (29.3 km)

Day 7: to Logroño (20 km)

Day 8: to Najera (29.9 km)

Day 9: to Grañon (28 km)

Day 10: to Belorado (15.7 km)

Day 11: to Atapuerca (30.3 km)

Day 12: to Burgos (20 km)

Day 13: to Hornillos del Camino (21 km)

Day 14: to Castrojeriz (20.1 km)

Day 15: to Frómista (24.9 km)

Day 16: to Carrión de los Condes (20.2 km)

Day 17: to Terradillos de los Templarios (26.2 km)

Day 18: to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos (26.7 km)

Day 19: to Mansilla de las Mulas (24 km)

Day 20: to Leon (18.1 km)

Day 21: to Villar de Mazarife (21.8 km)

Day 22: to Astorga (31.2 km)

Day 23: to Rabanal del Camino (2-.6 km)

Day 24: to Ponferrada (30.9 km)

Day 25: to Villafranca del Bierzo (26.5 km)

Day 26: to Hospital de la Condesa (35.9 km)

Day 27: to Samos (25.6 km)

Day 28: to Ferreiros (28.3 km)

Day 29: to Ventas de Narón (21.4 km)

Day 30: to Melide (26.5 km)

Day 31: to Salceda (25.5 km)

Day 32: to Monte del Gozo (23.7 km)

Day 33 (tomorrow): to Santiago (4.5 km)

TOTAL: 793.5km (493 miles)

So there you have it. Tomorrow morning, while most of you are asleep, I will walk into Santiago and be pretty dang happy at what I managed to do. But this was the easy part. This Camino will just be ending, and as they say, a new one will begin.

Thank you so much to my Sponsors! Day 31 was generously sponsored by my UCSB pal Chris O., who specifically picked this day for the abundance of eucalyptus trees (reminiscent of our Santa Barbara days); by my talented and lovely friend (and personal pilates/alignment coach) Sarah S.; and by a very old friend in my life – my family’s former German exchange student through the swimming team, Christian H.! That was such a surprise to get a sponsorship and email from him last week. Thanks Christian! Day 32 (today) was sponsored by my talented, brilliant and gorgeous co-office manager Anita G., and by the best chimney sweep of all time (and super amazing friend!) Dan R.! Thank you all so much for your generous support. This was a huge gift and I am so thankful.

Okay I’m off to bed soon (it’s not even 8pm!) with some chocolate, wine and Stranger Things. Oh man, the Camino diet is my favorite diet.

2 thoughts on “Days 31 & 32: Melide to Salceda to Monte del Gozo (AKA “Slow Down”)

  1. Ashley, Congratulation on completing a challenge that for most of us would seem impossible.
    I am so proud of you for doing this task and prove to yourself that if you put your mind to it you can do it. Of course Oma joins me in saying ” Well done” Love you, Oma and Opa


  2. Dear one, I rejoice in your wondrous accomplishment. I hope someday I’ll be able to follow along on your trek as I read the promised book you will write. Maybe the several genes of mine you received at your conception enjoyed the adventure with you. My love to you, dear Ashley Grandma Dee


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