DAY 11 CLEANLINESS IS DIFFICULT ON THE CAMINO

A gift from the rental agency

We have been staying in some very nice hotels along the Camino much nicer than the albergues or even most of the other hotels and bed & breakfasts along the way. Two nights ago my husband said he thought the hotel was definitely less nice than any of the others. I was confused by this proclamation. There were two twin beds to sleep in and they were comfortable. Plus the sink had a stopper so I could wash clothes out and the balcony had a clothesline with clothes pins. A luxury!

The Camino has been more crowded than anticipated so tonight the only accommodation we could find was an apartment. It has a washing machine! So I put all my clothes in the washer, wrapped myself in a towel, poured myself a glass of wine, and watched Legally Blonde on my phone.

I guess some days I’m not very profound, but at least my clothes are clean 🤗

DAY 10 LIFE & DEATH ON THE CAMINO

Today was not the prettiest day on the Camino. It was a short walk from Logrono to Navarette, about 8 miles and it drizzled rain with a pretty good head wind. The Camino also took us along the highway so we were accompanied by the sounds of cars and truck racing by. But life has its ugly parts too doesn’t it. Pain, illness, broken relationships, and more. You just keep moving on the Camino and things will change.

Today was also interesting because we passed by the fence of crosses.

This part of the Camino stretches for a couple of kilometers. At first there is a long a part of just fence with these crosses. Pretty soon though the grapevines and wild berries start to grow through the fence so that the crosses are obscured.

Some of the crosses have the names of loved ones with a date, but most are just simple sticks woven into the fence.

I wonder if the crosses speak of a particular death of someone or the death of some hope or dream. Or could the empty crosses speak of a resurrection in the life of the pilgrim who left it?

Tonight Navarete is home

Buon Camino!

DAY 9

I am beginning to see the walking, or maybe hobbling, wounded. Knee and ankle braces are appearing. Road rash is peeking out from beneath bandages. One woman has her wrist and one finger bandaged up. She took a bad fall back in Roncevalles, but she’s still moving. This morning we saw a man with his whole head and nose bandaged up. He is bicycling the Camino and took a header over his handlebars.

Even I have a couple of blisters but they are healing nicely and don’t bother me much.

On a more pleasant note we left the Navarro region and entered Rioja.

Rioja is a big wine region. We’ve already seen vineyards dotting the hills, but now we can expect to see more of the actual wineries.

Buon Camino!

Day 8 A MILESTONE DAY

Or is it a kilometer-stone day?

Today was a big day on multiple levels. It was a long walk from Estella to Los Arcos. 14.5 miles. Miles vs. kilometers? The distance in kilometers my Australian friends tell me is so much more impressive and because a kilometer is less than a mile and it goes faster. At any rate a goal was achieved.

See the stamp on my credential in the lower left hand corner? Yes I have walked 100 kilometers since Roncevalles the first stop in Spain. I was shocked! And of course that doesn’t include the kilometers walked from St. Jean Pied de Port. It was a very good feeling.

I got the stamp outside of Estella from a blacksmith.

Since today is Sunday he wasn’t doing any forging, but he was out to stamp credentials and to show his wares. And then I saw this

I know the Camino is not about accumulation of stuff. If anything it is about getting rid of stuff. Remember Teresa of Avila and George Carlin 😉 Modern pilgrims usually have a scallop shell attached to their backpacks to designate themselves as pilgrims. Because the earlier pilgrims would take a shell from Santiago or Finesterre as a souvenir of their pilgrimage I have decided to get a shell there. But in the meantime I have this hand forged shell with the cross of St. James to celebrate 100 kilometers.

My second cause to celebrate came about 5 minutes after I left the blacksmith. There is a monastery that has a fountain. It’s called the Fountain of Irache. On the right is a spigot that pours water and on the left is a spigot that pour wine.

These are gifts the monks provide for the pilgrims. Sadly some take advantage and fill their water bottles so the pilgrims behind have none. I was lucky enough (since it was about 9:30 am) to pour enough for a taste into my cup. I feel blessed to partake in this tradition that has endured hundreds of years.

Tomorrow will be another long day. This time 17 miles. How I wish that were kilometers. And there are two steep descents.

Buon Camino!

DAY 7

I know I complained about taking pictures of great landscapes yesterday but I have one to share again today.

This is a pretty little town we went through and I liked the woman’s bright blue pants against the dirt path, but mostly I love the blue of the sky. The weather has been amazing. On our second day of crossing the Pyrenees it was cold enough that I was glad to have on long pants with a mid layer jacket and my rain jacket. But other than that temperatures have been 60-75 degrees F.

And now on to something I’m learning. We are having dinner in a bar. It’s loud! There are no stools at the bar. People are just standing with a drink and talking. Many of them seem to know each other. No one is drunk. Most of them have a drink and either leave or find a table to have dinner.

I’m just an observant and while I don’t really like all the noise and the faint smell of cigarette smoke which I suspect comes from clothing because no one is smoking, there is something infectious about the congeniality of the crowd. No one is taking a selfie or checking Facebook. No one even has their phone out. This is pure socialization and I love having a front row seat.

We could learn a lot from the Spanish people.

If there is anything you want to know about the Camino, ask me. I’d love to see what your thoughts and questions are.

In the meantime Buon Camino!

DAY 6 TWO REFLECTIONS

So I have been pondering two thoughts today on the Camino. The first has to do with aptitude tests. Ok, you’re thinking “that sounds weird”. Well here’s my thought. I was taking a picture of an incredible view…

And I was so disappointed. It just didn’t capture all that I was seeing. I remembered those aptitude tests like the SAT’s. Remember those sections with the question 1 is to 2 as 3 is to (blank) and you choose the answer to complete the question. So I got to thinking of my picture that my picture is to reality as the church is to God. There is simply no way to compare the two. My photo is a poor representation of what I was seeing. And the church is a small reflection of all that God is.

My second reflection just came to me. We are sitting at an outside cafe and I am listening to all the conversations around me. In each one someone is speaking in their broken version of the language of the conversion. I’m listening to French and one gentleman is struggling and succeeding mightily at keeping up. Carmen and I struggled (me in Spanish) mightily and I got about 75% of what was going on. It’s like the Book of Acts when each hears in his/her own language, but not quite that. It’s as if all are bending and listening to understand. It’s quite beautiful 😊

Day 5

Huarte to Pamplona today. Because Huarte is off the Camino we had to walk through an industrial area.

Not so pretty but soon we came to a secondary Camino route which is a beautiful park.

On the outskirts of Pamplona we came to the original Camino route. Today has been easier because it has been paved and is mostly flat 🤗

Every day we have to get a stamp in our Camino passports. The last 100 kilometers two stamps per day are required. Pamplona was a good stop this short day so after a good lunch we visited the Cathedral and were able to get our stamp for the day there.

We finished with about three miles to Zizur Mayor for the night. Definitely an easier day but tomorrow is 16 miles with a major climb and descent 😧😮😩😬

DAY 4 THE CAMINO WILL PROVIDE

“The Camino will provide” is one of the phrases most often heard especially when someone expresses a worry about something. I have two stories from today about how the Camino provides.

Today we walked from Zubiri to Huarte, about 12 miles. We had planned to stop in a little town at about mile #6, but when we got there, there was only one cafe and it was crowded so we decided to walk another mile to the next town and get lunch there. So we did and when we got there we just didn’t see anything available.

Now those of you who know me, know that I like to eat and I really hate to miss a meal. On top of that my water bottle was below the halfway point and I didn’t think I had enough to get to Huarte. So we were walking along a narrow path and suddenly around the bend there was a man with a cooler full of drinks and a pile of bananas and oranges. But there was no vehicle there, no indication of how he got there, but there he was and I was so happy and relieved. I bought a bottle of water and a banana and gave gratitude in my heart for these provisions. And he really wanted to make sure I knew that his bananas were from Nicaragua. 🙂

Upon arriving in Huarte I was very tired and to be honest my feet were hurting. We weren’t 100% sure where our hotel was, but we did think we were in the vicinity. We saw a “cafeteria” and stopped to eat and gather our thoughts. When we were leaving a young man and a woman approached us. He spoke English saying that the woman recognized us as pilgrims and that we were a little lost. She heard the name of our hotel and knew that it is right next to her home and she would show us how to get there.

My Spanish is nearly non-existent, this woman and managed to talk and I’d say I understood about 75% of what she said. And I think I was able to make myself understood a bit too. It was wonderful and again I gave thanks for the kindness of others.

Carmen and me

The Camino will provide.

Buon Camino

DAY 4 WHO IS ROSINNA DE VERONA

Today I came across a black metal cross with a gold plaque that said

End of the Camino

Rosinna de Verona

I didn’t take a picture because it seemed too sacred. I wonder who was Rosinna and why was she on the Camino. Did she die of some long lingering disease? Did she have a sudden stroke? Or did she die of a broken heart that she was hoping to mend on the camino? Was she happy when she died? Was she surrounded by pilgrim friends?

And who put the cross there? Family? Friends? An unrequited lover?

Was her name Rosinna de Verona or was she simply Rosinna from the town of Verona in Italy?

All I know is that she was a pilgrim, she died, and someone cared enough to commemorate the place of her death with a cross.

Buon Camino Rosinna

DAY 3 LATER

So after the debacle of the ugly Americans I had the occasion to hear what others from different countries had to say and it was not a flattering account of our country. Nonetheless it’s over, done, and perhaps grace will prevail.

Today’s journey was again difficult, but not as difficult. We left France and crossed over the border in to Spain. Here I am trying to leap for Joy at the frontier.

We were told the roads would be rolling hills, but they seemed to be more steady climbs and descents. The last two miles into Zubiri were described as “treacherous” and that is very accurate.

It was a very steep down hill on a path strewn with big rocks. It was painful to the feet and the rocks could be slippery. But if we had had a cafeteria tray we might have been able to slide down. Or it might be a good place to install a zip line.

After all that we did make it into Zubiri and our hotel was very nice

This house was built in 1677 and the oak floors are original. We finally had a very good night’s sleep.

But before that we went out in search of dinner and met up with our new friends Gunny & Antone from Holland. We had a great dinner together. Sadly as we compared schedules and hotels we probably won’t see each other for the rest of the Camino. But we have pledged to try and stay in contact.

Buon Camino!