Moonset on the Meseta

Moonset on the Meseta

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Four Days on the Camino

 I am trying to catch up here.  I arrived in Pamplona by train on Monday night, got lost finding the Jesus y Maria Albergue where I had stayed in May, and then got lost again finding my way back from the Plaza del Castillo, which I thought I knew well.  I set off early on Tuesday morning, and walked to Puente La Reina.  It was a good walk, but hot.  I stayed in the Albergue Parrochial, and enjoyed walking about the town in the evening.  Day 2 took me to Estella, which was another good day, but hot.  Yesterday, from Estella to Los Arcos.  The description follows.  This evening I am in Logrono, in lots more rain.

Sunset, Pamplona 12 September 2010

I wished for rain, and it has been drizzling off and on all day.  Still quite warm, but it made for good walking.  Just over 20 km today, so a short day, and the last section was mostly gently down hill on dirt roads, my favorite kind of walking.  Through vineyards and brown fields with views of old churches and ruins, and castles on mountain tops in the distance.  I did not meet too many people on the way.  I left Estella in the dark, and it started to rain shortly after.  The signs leaving town were not very good.  I missed the turn from the highway to the winery and monastery, so missed the fountain that dispenses free wine to peregrinos.  Alas.  It meant I walked way too long on the edge of a busy  road, but finally connected with the Camino where it went through lovely woods.  It is probably just as well I did not get to the wine fountain at 7:30 a.m.  I might still be there.  Someone I met said people were actually filling up their water bottles there.

I am in a municipal albergue Isaac Santiago this afternoon.  I had a nice lunch outside at a restaurant in the square by the church.  This is really the first regular meal I´ve had since leaving Santiago.  There were lots of little birds flitting in the bushes today.  The overcast skies and drizzle didn´t make for good picture-taking.  Tomorrow will be a longer day --- 28 km I think.  The legs started to hurt by the time I was a couple of hours from here.  I could have continued 8 more km to the next town, but decided it was better not to overdo it.

Puente de la Reina

I passed some marker about General Eisenhower, something about Cabanas de Munions or something.  I should have written it down.  It looked like it was something about him ordering no bombing of this area, that there were Allied supporters here -- anyone know anything about this?
Last night was group dinner at the hostel, tortillas with patatas and a yummy tomato salad with a bit of green pepper.

At the church they sang the song we sing in Spanish at Newman Center.  The one with the barcas and otra mar -- now I can´t remember the words or the rest -- it was nice to hear a familiar hymn.  This church actually had people attending the service at 7 p.m., and a young energetic priest -- the first I´ve seen in Spain.  He gave out lollipops to the little kids afterwards!  Anyway, it was good to see there are some churches that are more than just museums and relics here.

Note:  The hymn is "Lord, you have come to the seashore...Pescador de hombres"  Here's a link:

There is internet at this hostel, which has real sheets on the beds.  Last night´s were some kind of plastic.  I was glad I had my sleeping bag, which is working very well, and my square of silk, which I put over the pillow.  The same people who were up latest last night, making lots of noise, were also up earliest this morning, doing the same, but none of them had left the hostel before I did.  I guess that is the way it goes.

There is such a mix of languages -- the French man who wears a kilt (and wore a skirt yesterday evening) is here again tonight.  The Italian man who would hardly speak to me when I met him on the road out of Pamplona, now looks glad to see him and says a few words in English.  He is from Sardinia.  He is traveling by himself.  I also met an interesting woman, Gail, from Massachusetts, who is walking for 40 days.  I suspect I am going to be ahead of her by tomorrow, though.  We talked in a churchyard yesterday afternoon, and exchanged life stories (in brief) and she gave me a crystal.

There is also a man named James from Philadelphia, I think here tonight and at the hostel last night.  Well, my time is about to run down, and I have not posted anything to the blog.

I think it will also be overcast and drizzly tomorrow.  I need to read up on the route.  At one place on the trail today, two Japanese women jumped up and offered me a slice of apple as I walked by.  Wasn´t that nice?

I have been thinking about little questions, like the meaning of life.  All I can come up with is love, those sayings we learned in the cradle, God is Love, Love One Another.  How hard can that be?  Very hard, I guess, considering the state of the world.

Outside of Criauqui

Many more thoughts as I walked today, setting out at 7 a.m. in darkness.  Then a red sunrise.  Then mist and rain.  Not many photos today.  There were good moments and bad.  Much beautiful to see, the city of Viana with its cathedral was quite wonderful.  I got rained on off and on.  There were joyful moments, when it felt wonderful to be walking among the grape vines and blackberries and chickory and thistles, and hawthorn, and other fall things growing and going to seed.  Then, by the time of the 4th or 5th downpour, my hat was flopping down onto my face, my shirt was totally wet, my boots covered in mud, the charm of the rain began to pale.

The last 4 km into Logrono were quite miserable, and those last 4 km always seem the longest of the day.  I walked about 28 km today, which was the most I´ve done this trip so far.  Tomorrow will be another long day.  A dog followed me and a couple of other walkers from Viana, and he came close to death several times as we crossed a busy highway.  I managed to get the security guard at a big factory on the road to keep the dog.  It took a lot of doing to try to explain that he was not my dog, and would he please hold him.  Finally, he understood and said he would call the police, and then let the dog into his office space.  Whew!  A woman from Japan stayed on the other side of the road, watching to make sure he would be all right.  A Spanish man, who in retrospect could have explained the situation, just continued on his way, paying no attention.  I am in a new private albergue here, but I don´t think it is any better than the less expensive parochial or municipal albergues.  There are clothes drying racks outside, that may not be moved under any circumstances, even though there is room inside the hostel.  So, of course no one can use them, and there are signs everywhere saying ¨NO¨¨ to hanging clothes on the radiators.  Of course today everyone´s clothes are all wet.  I thought this would be a step up from the crowded municipal albergues, but apparently not.  I guess this would have been a night to have sprung for a hotel.  I am going out soon to talk around the town.  It has stopped raining for the moment.  I have met many wonderful people along the way.  More stories that will have to wait. I am buying time on this computer at an odd little shop down the street, and the connection is so slow that I haven´t been able to reply to any of my gmail messages.

Sunrise, leaving Najera 18 September 2010

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