I will be hitting a milestone of over 200 kilometers walked at some point tomorrow. It is helpful to see this number because the daily increments seem pretty small when we are used to hoping into our car and driving somewhere. For example, the other day I made a mistake of looking up my day’s walk on google maps and this was discouraging.
What would be a 20 minute drive by car would take me from 8am to past 3pm. After that I didn’t make the mistake of looking at driving distances again!
But, my point is, that even though the distances don’t seem that long each day, they add up to walking 124 miles over a little more than 11 days.
Today I planned for a short day to Najera, just 16k from Navarrete. But, as I was walking out of town, Angela came up behind me. Angela is part of my adoptive Camino family from Lorca. In the past week or so since I first met her, this girl has been dealing with one foot issue after another. But nothing seems to stop her and she has been able to keep pace with the rest of her group.
Angela’s tenacity is impressive. She told me she was going to Azofra, another 7k beyond where I planned to walk. I was inspired and let that inspiration change my plans. I was going to go to Azofra if she was.
So off we went.
Angela is from Denver and is a nurse; not a bad person to walk with at all!
More harvesting was going on in the vineyards.
You could smell the start of the fermentation process as grapes were being harvested all around us.
We were surrounded by beauty and it was a perfect day for walking.
At one point, walking through a forest area we can across this man singing and playing a guitar. Just when you need something to lift your spirits, the Camino provides!
At one point we even took a little break and enjoyed a few grapes.
Najera is a fairly large city with a lot of industry on the outskirts of town.
Eventually, we came to the actual town of Najera and one of the first places we wanted to go to was a bar! We were hungry and thirsty.
We had a fairly hearty meal washed down with Acquarius followed by a cafe con leche.
Who was there but Henry and Ye. I hadn’t seen Ye for over a week! He was born in Burma, but now lives in England and recently retired. He worked in hospitals helping children with musical and theatrical therapy.
Food is always so much better when you are hungry! The gazpacho was delicious! It was served on a glass with a straw!
After refueling, we were ready to the final 7k that would get us to Azofra. On the way out of town, we walked right through the middle of a wedding.
And then started another uphill.we were heading the wrong way, but luckily an elderly Spanish woman came out on her second floor balcony and yelled to us, “Peregrinas! This way.” Of course, she said it in Spanish, but we knew what she meant.
Throughout all of the walking I have done, the French (in the Pyrenees) and Spanish people have been so helpful and encouraging. Everyday they see many many pilgrims. We are the fabric of their lives. Pilgrims have been making this walk for over 1200 years. Some of the smaller towns exist solely to support pilgrims. Without the Camino, they wouldn’t be. So, when someone along the way says “Buen Camino,” whether it is the bartender, someone passing you in the streets or day workers in the vineyards, they truly mean “have a good way,” More than once a kind person has redirected me to keep me on the right path.
Henry took an absolutely lovely picture of me. When I sat down I had taken off my hat and buff and didn’t give any thought to what my hair looked like.
It felt like the walk from Najera to Azofra was all up hill! But, of course it wasn’t. It was just our brains playing tricks on us. That always seems to happen toward the end of the day.
We ran into a group of friends at the first bar and had to celebrate with a beer!
Gina and Glenn were there. I had not seen her since Orrison and was very surprised to learn that she had been hiking in fashion sandals since then!
Check out the heel on those shoes!
The conversation quickly turned into foot conversations, a very important topic to all pilgrims! We swapped stories about our foot injuries and remedies.
Here are Gina and Glenn.
Angela and I decided to share a private room for 2. Very nice place!
Then it was time for dinner…
…and a nightcap.
I loved the eggs and ham and chorizo with French fries. It hit the spot along with a starter of pasta with a very sweet ketchup like sauce (not the best, but again, when you are hungry just about anything tastes good!
The place we ate was filled mostly with locals because very few pilgrims stay in this town. It was obviously a Saturday night out on the town and the men were all gathered around the TV watching soccer and the women were playing cards. It was a great local vibe. We were all eating from the same menu; there wasn’t a separate pilgrims menu. Dinner including dessert and wine was €10.
When I woke up in Navarrete and went through my morning routine I was wondering what in the heck I was doing out here. I didn’t really want to start more walking. I had slept poorly the night before because I kept coughing from my cold. I thought about how nice it would be to take a day off. Or, maybe even quit and spend the rest of my time touring around Spain.
But, I got moving and ran into Angela and that changes everything. She was my Camino angel.
On the Camino we are always saying, “the Camino provides.” Before I came here I wondered if there was some miracle about the Camino that we don’t have in our everyday lives.
Now that I have been here for a while, I don’t think that is the case. I think that what happens here is that we, as pilgrims, are stripped down to the very basics. We aren’t distracted with a hectic daily life. So we are more attuned to the little simple things and with so little else, they become true gifts.
This is part of the Camino I definitely want to take home with me.