Camino – June 6th and 7th (Chris)

For some reason, I wake up full of ‘piss and vinegar’ as it were, and I’m raring to go.

I walk alone from Navarrete for a few kilometres, and then am approached on the trail by Alex, a local who asks if he can walk with me to the next town (Ventosa), in order to practice his English. I accept his request, and we banter along for the next hour or so.  His English is quite good, and he is pleasant to talk to… I enjoy the unique interaction.  Before you know it, we’re at the town, and part ways.  There is a restaurant right on the trail, and I stop for a yummy cup of coffee, and chocolate filled pastry… OK… I had two… and then was off like a bat out of hell for Najera, another 9 km’s away… I’m there in what seems no time… and without stopping, head off for Azofra, my final destination for the day; the guide book says it’s one of the nicest albergue’s on the trail.  Since leaving Alex, I walk alone, enjoying the solitude… sometimes I think, sometimes I don’t… I just walk.  I pull into Azofra at a bit before 12:30pm (while most of our viewing audience are still drooling all over their pillows back home in Canada)… I’ve walked 23 km’s, and my feet feel relatively fine… they are still sore, but my blisters aren’t giving me the grief they’ve been giving me for so many days… I could have gone further, but wanted to stay at this recommended hostel, and furthermore, I didn´t want to push my luck.

The place is nice, but not exactly the nicest I’ve seen… they do have internet, which I appreciate, and a small fountain/pool to soak your feet in… the water is icy cold, but refreshing.

At some point before dinner, I sit with Noel and Ronnie, (the Irish couple mentioned before) for a beer and chat it up a bit. It’s all good craic (fun), and I offer to buy another round… I buy a beer for Pauline as well (who is enjoying some solitude at another table). At some point she joins us, and we end up eating a pilgrim’s dinner together… and a few pints afterwards to boot.  Mental note: Drinking with the Irish is great fun… but you’ll pay for it in the morning… 🙂

I stagger into bed, aware that Ive consumed too much, but manage to fall asleep… the next I hear is who I assume is my roommate (two beds to a small room a closet at the head of each bed)… the voice says ‘buenos dias’, and I’m confused as to why he has awakened me when I’m obviously still sound asleep… I become aware to the activity outside the room, and realize that it’s time to get up… we start packing, and Antonio (totally Spanish speaking) indicates that his pack has been left half open, and that ALL his money is gone… 340 euros, not to mention the change he had.  Further communication reveals that it was NOT him that had said good morning earlier, that it had been a man looking at MY pack, when Antonio heard a noise and in his slumber, opened his eyes… the stranger in the room notice him, and casually indicated in some way, that he was ‘my’ amigo, and was just getting something from me, before casually sauntering out of the room… it was ten minutes later before the loss was discovered.  I felt violated, even though nothing of mine was taken, and felt really bad for this poor fellow… he was visibly shaken by the ordeal.  I offer him some money to at least buy breakfast, he declines, but asks a bit later if I can by him a coffee, which I do… after all, if he hadn’t woken up at that precise moment, the SOB may have walked off with something of mine as well.

I’m still kinda groggy from the evening’s ‘grog’, but head out at 7:30am for Ciruena, a mere 9km away, with plans to push on towards Santo Domingo de la Calzada, 7km after that.  I walk alone… feeling a tad discouraged by the morning’s events… I’m not in a good mood, and the walking is  difficult… I’m simply NOT into it.

The road seems endless, and the scenery not so impressive… I’ve got a bit of a black filter on I suppose…

I arrive in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and it´s early… perhaps 11:30am, noticing that one of the albergue’s has just opened for business… still, I’m not sure what I want to do… stay, or press on.  As I sit on a bench contemplating my next move, who shows up but Layla (actually I think it is spelled Laila)… a common Comino friend of both Christina and I.  She has purposely ended her day’s travel here, because her guidebook says good things about the convent hostel, and that the nuns that run the place sing vespers in the early evening.  I’m intrigued by this, and happy to see a friendly face, so decide to end the day’s journey here as well.

Showering, shaving (at least my neck, as I’m taking the opportunity to grow a beard) and laundry have become my daily routine after getting off the road.  Then, it’s a quick trip to the local supermarcado for sandwich supplies… I had thought of going to a restaurant, but opted to make my lunch, and the next day’s breakfast and lunch at the same time.  After that I take a deep, restful nap that lasts hours, and I have to drag my huge butt out of bed at 5:30 before vespers.  Laila and I go together, she is really eager to experience this.  There where at least twenty nuns participating, and the vespers were more like the singing of prayers… it’s charming in it’s lack of perfection… shrill voices, coughing, etc… this is their daily routine, and we feel special to have witnessed it.  Right after the vespers are finished, some different lights come on, and a priest appears from the side door… there’s going to be a mass… now… I haven’t attended a Catholic mass in a long, long time.  I no longer practice Catholicism, or take part in any organized religion for that matter… still, I choose to sit through the service with Laila, who being a Protestant, is intrigued by the whole thing… the mass is familiar in it’s execution, even in Spanish.  At the end, the priest gives a special blessing for the safety of the pilgrims on the way to Santiago, and a song to that affect is sung by the congregation.  Both Laila and I are moved by the experience.

We walk around town a bit, looking for a suitable pilgrim’s menu at the local restaurants, and break bread together.  We run into Petra (from Germany) whom I´ve walked with from time to time, but she is missing her sidekick Nadine (also from Germany)… apparently she’s met up with a tent and guitar carrying pilgrim named Gary, and the two of them have been spending time together… such is life on the Camino.

Today, I felt refreshed, and was up and out by 6:30am… sandwiches in hand… I had been afraid I’d forget them.  Again, I walk in solitude, enjoying the early morning light.  I run into Pauline going in the opposite direction… she is done her Camino.  We chat for a few moments, hug goodbye, and vow to meet up in London.  Solitude is my friend… it gives me time to think, to reflect, to write… not many people know this about me, but from time to time, while working out some emotional issues, I write poetry, usually that can be sung (with a country twang…). Lyrics seems to flow freely on the trail, and I enjoy the creative process.  If only I had a direct line to Alan Jackson… I truly hear him singing my songs, and helping with the music in my head that accompanies them… maybe someday…

There doesn’t seem to be many people on the road today, and it’s quite windy at times.  I’m in the process of passing a young girl, and say a customary hello, and the next thing I know, we’ve chatted all the way to Belorado… sharing my sandwiches along the way.  Madeline (Madde to her friends) is from Switzerland, and we stop for beverages at one of the restaurant/hostels in the town.  She’d really like to have continue on, but had only slept 3 hours the night before in a car, due to a side trip to Madrid with someone she had met along the Camino.  I’m still full of energy, and continue on down the road through Tosantos, Villambistia, Espinosa del Camino, and finally stop at Villafranca Montes de Oca, for a total of 36 km… and my feet are feeling pretty good.

The municipal hostel is no hell, so I carry on down the road to private albergue attached to the hotel, a few steps down the road… it’s well worth the effort, and I’m happy to pay the 5 euros for tonight… of course the pilgrim’s menu is going to be 12 euro, so I suppose it all evens out in the wash… speaking of ‘wash’, it’s time to check on my laundry… I’m sure todays wind dried it hours ago.

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8 Responses
  1. Connie and Yves says:

    lol….I can just picture you drinking beers with the Irish..a little hungover eh Chris…Must of been a long walk,,I can feel your pain,,,Stay safe/// Yves

    • chris says:

      Hi Yves…
      Not so much hungover, but still feeling a little whoozy from the previous nights intake of beer… funny how it effects your ability to walk the next day!

  2. Angus says:

    Hi Chris, glad your feet seem to be doing better these days and it sounds like the weather has been great. I’m also relieved you didn’t get robbed. I’ve heard the hostels can be bad that way so I’d probably be sleeping with my wallet attached to me at all times.

    Can’t wait to see your pics. The stories are great but I’m really missing the pictures and videos.

    Neither you nor Christina have mentioned anything about how the economy is impacting life along the Camino. Are the locals talking about the debt and the future? We’re seeing some pretty scary stuff in the paper over here.



    • chris says:

      Hi Angus!
      I really miss having my computer with me, it’s too hard trying to get pictures up without it… at this point, things are getting a tad repetitive, and I’m not taking as many, but every once in awhile something catches my eye. Keeping my valuables that much closer to me now. 25% overall unemployment, 50% amongst the younger generation… not good at all… they can’t borrow money to kick-start their economy, as they are considered too big a risk for paying it back… we walk through some newer towns that are literally void of life… ‘for sale’ signs everywhere… nobody around… really eerie… haven’t heard much about future plans, but I’ll keep my ears open!

  3. Douglas says:

    Hi Chris,
    This is not repetitive, but it is like the rhythm of being on the road. You get up, you walk, you experience little changes deeply. I have a small window into this great experence that you are having. Thank you.


    • chris says:

      Thanks Douglas… how´d you hear about us way over there in Alberta?

      • Douglas says:

        Hi Chris,
        Not certain how I found this, I believe I was looking for information on travelling to South America and came across you. I have been to Peru and noticed how Christine and Chris viewed Peru and liked it. Plus some of your pictures are great and I am always looking for new ways of seeing landscapes.


        • chris says:

          Cool! Enjoy the blog… I´ve got plenty more to post picture-wise… just gotta find the time!