I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that it was a day late because of the technical issue I was working on solving with Ray. And, maybe it had a little to do with the abundance of Tapas restaurants and the fact that we are now in Rioja!
But, yesterday, before I went Tapas hunting I tweaked my knee when I stepped on my shoe that was carelessly laying in the middle of the floor when I came back to the room after my shower. Stupid! This is not the story you want to tell people if you can’t continue on with the Camino!
Ray had wanted me to go to a foot care clinic to have my toes looked at (I will spare you the photo), but now in addition to the black toenails on both of my big toes, the skin tight next to my cuticles is deep red-blue and swollen. I thought they might be getting infected and that had me worried.
So I was going to hobble my way to the foot care clinic several blocks away when I saw an open farmacia. If you have been to Italy or Spain, you know what these places are like. They are small with very few products out for you to look at. Instead you talk to the pharmacist, describe your problem and he or she goes into the back room and hands you the recommended product. It reminds me of the state controlled liquor stores in Pennsylvania back when I was a kid growing up.
I showed the pharmacist my toes and she told me that I needed to soak my toes for 10 minutes in warm water and then put on the antibiotic cream that she gave me “two times day.” She also tried to sell me a pair of gel caps (toe condoms as us pilgrims fondly call them) which I already had and promised her I would wear (but I had my fingers crossed behind my back. There was no way those blue toe condoms were going back on inside of my shoe!)
I asked her if I needed to go to a foot care clinic and she looked at me like I was crazy. I was thrilled because that meant I didn’t need to make the long walk.
So, next I asked the pharmacist for a rub for my knee by pointing to my knee and acting out cries of pain. She gave me some kind of ointment and said “3 times day.”
She thought I was done but then I told her I had a cough, acting out like I was coughing and grabbing my chest. I pointed to some Ricola throat drops on the counter and she said, “No,” and gave me a box and said “4 times day.” I wasn’t going to argue with her.
I got the idea for acting out what I find difficult to communicate to someone who speaks a different language from Annette, the sweet German girl with the giant backpack who I shared a room with in Orisson. She felt she didn’t have good English (she did) and so she acted everything out. So, for example, when she was telling me that I rustled in my sleeping bag all night she acted like she was tossing and turning and made a crinkling sound. I got it (and felt badly but that wasn’t her intention). I think the acting out comes natural to Annette because both of her parents are deaf so this was one way she had to communicate with them in addition to sign language.
In any case, the acting out of all my ailments worked for me in the Farmacia so €18 later I was on my way back to the Alburgue to treat myself to my new medications.
I was most worried about my knee and started thinking seriously about shipping my bag ahead to my next destination the following day. There are services all along the Camino that will transport your bag from one Alburgue to the next. It is especially helpful if you are injured and shouldn’t be carrying a lot of weight. I was determine I would carry my pack for the entire Camino, but was concerned that if my knee didn’t get better, I could find myself taking a taxi from town to town and that was the last thing I wanted to do.
You do need to know where you are staying the next day if you choose to send your pack ahead, so I used booking.com to make a reservation at a casa rural (similar to a bed and breakfast always in a historic building) in Navarrete. The next morning I packed up the essentials for the day into my little day pack and attached an envelope to my bag with €5 to pay for the transport service and left Logroño feeling a little guilty, but like I had done the right thing.
On the way out, I ran into Gerrold and Natalia from New Zealand (who we had drinks with the night before) and we walked to a coffee shop. My knee was feeling ok, but I was happy I made the decision to ship my bag even though the day would be relatively short and relatively flat.
After a cafe americano and a delicious little sandwich of jamon and roasted pepper, we headed out of the city. The walk out was as long at the walk into the city the day before. But, today the walk was through an extensive park system and paved trail that was bustling with Spainiards of all ages out getting some exercise. Many took the time to say “buenos dias, Buen Camino!”
The significance of the Camino passing through the various towns cannot be underestimated. Even with a large city like Logroño the city caters to and honors pilgrims.
Partway through the park we came to a donativo stand where I bought a banana and met a famous (and industrious) pilgrim Marcelino Lobato Castrillo who has walked the Camino for many years and has accumulated thousands of sellos (stamps).
The park had a beautiful lake with swans.
And soon we were back on paths through vineyards and along the highway.
At one point we turned around and could see Logroño and the lake we just walked around in the distance.
The sky was cloudy and I was concerned it might rain; all my rain gear was in my pack which was now somewhere between Logroño and Navarrete.
After crossing the highway using the footbridge we came to the ruins of an ancient pilgrims hospital with Don Jacoby (a winery, bodega and banquet facility) in the background.
And, after a climb up some steep stairs we were in Navarrete, my home for the night.
I stopped at the bar right next to the church and sat down with Gerrold and Natalia and Ilanit, from the first night in Saint Jean Pied de Port was there also. She was staying the night in Navarette and Gerrold and Natalia were moving on to the next town.
I ordered a Paella and cerveza since my walking was done for the day.
As I was eating Kyle and a new guy I hadn’t met showed up and then along came Henry. The four of use chatted for a while and Kyle made the observation that it was the first time he was sitting around the table of four Americans since he had started the Camino. Kyle was pushing onto the next town, but Zrariff and Henry stuck around and we had a great conversation about what the Camino had meant to us. Zrariff told us that he is the creative director at a branding firm in NYC and he lives in the West Village. He had three weeks on the Camino, similar to me, but he planned to skip around a bit and then would walk from Saria to Santiago so he could get his Compostela before heading home.
He had a pack of cards that a friend had given him and he asked Henry and I to pick one and read it.
Henry and I both thought this was very sweet, but questioned why he would bot have scanned them to his phone and not carry the hard copy of the cards. He likes the tactile sense of the cards and we had to agree. I agree but the practical side of me, the person who splurged by bringing a third pair of underpants, would have scanned them. Different strokes…
I was reunited with my bag when I checked into my place for the night.
I took a shower and headed back up the hill to see the church, the most ornate I have ever seen.
I wanted to make it an early evening so I skipped the pilgrim mass and instead had a light tapas, a glass of wine and headed back to my Casa Rural.
I had wonderful conversations with Gerrold and Natalia today. Natalia described the differences in The Russia she grew up in, the Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union and today. She said that life today in Russia is so much better. People have adequate food and goods and if they work hard can support themselves and their family comfortably. I got a sense that in general she felt Putin had been good for the Russians but pointed out that with that comfort has come more corruption.
As I write this late in the evening, I can tell you that my knee is feeling much better and I plan to carry my pack tomorrow to my next destination which is about 20k away. I am happy I shipped the bag today. While I didn’t feel like a legitimate pilgrim today, I believe I saved my knee and that will hopefully enable me to achieve my goal of walking into Burgos six days from now.