311 Miles to Santiago

Once again, lots to catch up on…

10-5-11

Viana

416 miles to Santiago

The albuergue I´m staying in tonight has 3-tiered bunkbeds.

What kind of insanity is this??

Because obviously forcing tired pilgrims to climb one level isn´t enough. I almost broke down in tears when I misread the bed numbers and understood the 3rd bunk would be mine. Luckily for me I´m actually on the middle bunk.

Today was an overall good day. When I walk with the ankle braces I got in Estella I feel almost no pain. I´m also learning to slow down and take lots of breaks to massage my feet and ankles. This helps a lot.

Last night was the first time I´ve had trouble sleeping because of noise. Every morning over breakfast it seems everyone is complaining about the snorers. I guess I´ve been so tired that I´ve been sleeping too heavily to hear them. Well, last night I slept next to the freaking king of the snore. My God, it was so bad I couldn´t even look him in the eye the next morning! I swear if I ever end up in the same room with him again I´m sleeping outside. But this is the color of the albuergues I guess. Really, its pretty incredible it took this long to have that experience in the first place.

After walking around town a bit this evening I ran into Silvia, my bunkmate from Canada, at the market. She insisted on making me dinner. I already had plans to eat with another girl I met today from Poland who is my age so she joined us too. Silvia is much older than us so it felt quite a bit like mom making the kids dinner as we all scrambled around. I met another girl from Isreal who is also my age and travelling on her own – so that makes 3!

Feeling a bit of pain in my ankle and am generally sore. A little concerned for the walk tomorrow. Ah well, I´ll go as far as I can.

PS – Officially walked over 100 miles now!

10-6-11

Navarette

378 miles to Santiago

After 8.5 days of walking I have finally left the Robin Hood-esque region of Navarre and have entered the wine-growing region of La Rioja. This combined with the fact that I have officially walked 100+ miles make me feel as if I´m finally making some leeway.

Today was a real test on staying positive – and I´m not very sure I passed. The problem with having all this time to think is that your mind doesn´t necessarily go where you want it to. Starting outside Logroño, about 7km into the walk for the day, the path changed to concrete and stayed that way almost the entire way. Concrete is pretty much the worst surface to walk on because its so  hard. So after 21 kms my feet are pretty beat. Actually, they were pretty beat after 2 kms.

I didn´t enjoy Logroño like I´ve enjoyed the other big cities along the Camino. Maybe it was just my mindeset but I found it to be loud and dirty and mostly modern. The people weren´t as nice either. No one smiled at me or offered me a buen camino as I walked by as people usually do. They mostly just looked at me funny as if to say ´what the heck are you doing in the middle of downtown with trekking poles and a huge pack?´

I did have a few peaceful moments though, when I accidently wondered into the Iglesia Santiago Real. To be honest, I was just looking for a bathroom (which I didn´t find for another many, many kilometers and was probably another factor in my negativity) but I stumbled upon a beautiful interior with an incredible gold facade behind the alter and several pilgrims in prayer. I decided to take a rest and remind myself that one of the major reasons I was here was to rid myself of negativity. I find that those grand churches of yesteryear really have a way of humbling me and reminding me whose boss.

Anyway, I considered staying in Logroño to rest my tired feet but I was pretty put off  by the city and thought surely all the concrete would end soon and continued the 12.7 km to Navarette.

I lucked out tonight and somehow managed to be assigned the only non-bunkbed in the room. I´m very excited to not have to worry about waking a bunkmate with my moving tonight. The bathrooms in this albuergue have a bit to be desired though. They are co-ed with only 2 showers. One has a curtain, but a jammed knob so that its only possible to have a cold shower. The other has hot water but a clear glass door. To be fair there are stripes accross this door so if you happen to be the perfect height and stature and stayed very still you may be able to retain some semblance of modesty, but I was not up for that challenge. And that´s why I just experienced the coldest shower of my life.

10-7-11

Azura

364 miles to Santiago

Today as the sun rose I saw something I haven´t really seen since I´ve been in Spain – clouds! They were thick and low and beautiful, and they hovered all day and only let go a few light drizzles. It really made my afternoon – usually a hot, miserable last few kilometers – totally pleasant. I don´t know if it was the weather or good-old-fashion healing but I also felt stronger today than I have the entire walk. All of this combined with the gorgeous scenery (think rolling vineyards as far as the eye can see) really made for a very pleasant day.

The alburgue tonight has no bunkbeds (hallelujah!) and only two people per room! When I arrived my Polish friend Kasha had already reserved a bed for me so we could share a room with each other instead of with a random snorerer. So horray for a good night´s sleep!

Really, today was the total opposite of yesterday, and I´m happy for the change in pace. It´s now been two weeks since Austin dropped me off at the airport, and although I may have told you different yesterday – today I feel like I´m finally getting into the swing of this whole thing. Now just 2 more weeks until mom comes, 3 more weeks of walking, and 1 month until I´m back in the states. How crazy is it that I´m already a quarter of the way through this thing?

10-8-11

Grañon

350 miles to Santiago

Long day! The last 7 kms after Santo Domingo was really hard, but I´d heard of an amazing albuergue here in Grañon and I didn´t want to miss it. And it was totally worth it!

The albuergue is in the back of the church and the girls sleep in the attic on mats on the floor which is actually really awesome. No bunkbeds! We have a communal dinner and breakfast and not only is it beautiful but its clean! The bathroom was immaculate, the shower works, and the water is warm! I´m so exhausted from the walk today I can hardly write but I´m happy and warm. Siesta time!

10-9-11

Tosantos

338 Miles to Santiago

There´s so much I want to write but I don´t know if I have the time or energy to write it all. I´m in another wonderful parochial albuergue in a very small, very quaint town in the region of Castilla y Leon. So no more beautiful La Rioja. But guess what – there are cliff dwellings here! If I understood correctly, there have been monks living in the caves in the cliffs since the 9th century.

Now, I have to let you in on the secret of the day: I didn´t walk to Tosantos. My tendinitis has flared up again, though not nearly as bad, so I decided to take a rest day before it gets worse. I´ve met an american priest who also has tendinitis and the hospiteleros in Grañon were nice enough to drive us here to Tosantos so we can be with our friends. And since this day´s walk was almost totally beside the road and it was cold and rainy, I wasn´t sad to miss it.

Okay, it´s past 11! Can´t stay up longer. Will finish later.

10-10-11

Tosantos continued…

The hospiteleros here are absolutely wonderful. When we arrived yesterday morning they immediately invited us in for coffee and hot chocolate and have taken wonderful care of us ever since. Today we will take the bus to Burgos and rest there for 2 nights. It´s 2 days walk from here so that way we will meet our friends when they arrive in Burgos tomorrow night. It will be my last night with this group as the next day I will take the bus to Leon. I´m about a week behind to meet mom in Sarria on the 21st, and it was reccommended to me by several people that if I have to skip any part the section between Burgos and Leon is very flat and boring. So I´ll walk as far as I can from Leon and will probably have to take one more bus to get to Sarria on time. But that´s okay with me now. I´m no longer obsessed with taking every little step. Last night after a wonderful communal dinner our hospitelero told us that the camino doesn´t give you what you want, it gives you what you need. My lesson thus far has definitely been patience and flexibility.

10-10-11

Burgos

311 miles to Santiago

After a few technical difficulties Troy (the priest) and I were able to catch the bus to Burgos this afternoon. We agreed this morning we would meet our friends tomorrow at a new parochial alburgues just outside the city center.  Having stayed in parochials the last two nights and having such wonderful experiences, we were keen to do it again. And the promise of brand new facilities made us willing to compromise with the fact that the albuergue wasn´t in the city center. After a long and very hot walk from the bus station, Troy and I found the building that matched the picture on the flyer. But there were no arrows, no conchas, nothing. Finally we found the entrance discreetly marked through a side door – which was locked. We had to ring a doorbell to be let in. All of this is very strange compared to the well-marked open doors of the other albuergues I`ve been to.

When we were let inside we were asked to keep our voices down as the alburgue shared a building with a church. This rule is extended not just to the entrance but the entire building. Everybody must tip-toe around and speak in hushed voices. On top of everything we have just been informed that we will not be able to spend a second night here because it is the policy that this albuergue is reserved for walking pilgrims only – even though the place is nearly empty and the reason we want to stay is to rest our injuries. Even Troy remarked that that was very unchristian.

The weird attitude is redeemed a bit by the amazing facilities, the nicest by far I´ve seen on the Camino, and free dinner and breakfast (though since they lock us in at eight, and the Spanish eat late, we don´t really have a choice but to eat dinner here).

I think it will be interesting to see how the night goes. And more interesting to see how we find our friends, who we planned to meet here tomorrow.

Ahh seconds left on the internet! Sorry for any typos guys! Got to go!

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