Last night in Los Arcos was really lovely. We all got in nice and early, and so had plenty of time for all the pilgrim necessities: shower; wash out the sweaty walking clothes; lunch; big juicy, post-prandial, drool-on-the-pillow power nap; and evening Mass in the parish church of Santa Maria before supper. The Mass was great, very reverently offered, with a church filled with locals and pilgrims and a very enthusiastic young Colombian priest who preached a great sermon on St. Therese of Lisieux, whose feast day it was yesterday.
Sara and Iosue, the proprietors of La Casa de la Abuela, the private albergue where we stayed yesterday were marvellously welcoming. There are so many young families like this one along the Camino now, people who are running businesses catering to the pilgrim traffic along the Way, but who so obviously regard their work as a kind of vocation and put so much enthusiasm and love into the little details of what they do. Sara was up at the crack of dawn this morning making toast and coffee and tending to everyone as we prepared our backpacks for the day’s journey.
Today was a lo-o-oong walk, for several reasons. The first was, well, Logroño is 28 kilometers from Los Arcos, so that makes for our longest walk so far, over terrain that the Spanish refer to as “rompepiernas“. That means no really steep ascents or significant changes in altitude, but hours and hours of up-and-down walking on stony paths that ascend and descend the dozens of little valleys and gorges that cut through the southern Navarran landscape on the way to the La Rioja region. Wears yer butt out fast.
My energy was also way down today, having barely slept last night thanks to the noisy bar on the corner of the street below my room. I popped in the Mp3 player with my selection of light acoustic “drown the noisy buggers out” tunes, but of course that’s not the ideal solution either. Less annoying, but still noise in your ears when you need to sleep.
Finally, since the day dawned overcast and a bit chilly, I made the mistake of thinking that the weather was going to hold and that we’d have perfect walking weather all day. Silly boy. By the time I got to Viana, the sun had burst out and the sky was a brilliant blue again. Yes it was gorgeous, but it meant a final, 10-kilometer slog across the open plains between Viana and Logroño in the hottest part of the day.
Made only two stops along the way today: one was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres del Rio, another of the fascinating, octagonal Romanesque churches along the route, and Santa Maria de la Asuncion in Viana, though not to pay tribute to the scoundrel Cesar Borgia, buried under the paving stones out front. Impossible to pray in the church at Torres with all the walking and cycling pilgrims bustling in and out, snapping photos and asking questions of the girl seated at the door; I got a bit more quiet time in at the church in Viana. Afterwards, to fortify myself for the final 10k push into Logroño under an overactive afternoon sun that had chosen that moment to come back out, I nipped off to the nearest bar for a tinto con gaseosa and a good sit down to get the boots off my tired dogs for a few minutes while I waited for Cheryl to rock up.
She appeared a few minutes later, popped into the bar for a couple of fritos, and sat down to have a rest too. We sat for about 15 minutes and then set off together for Logroño. We walked along chatting for about twenty minutes or so, but Cheryl fell behind me not far outside of Viana. Since the sun was beginning to toast my arse, I kicked it up a notch and rocked into Logroño a bit ahead of her.
We made it. I waited for Cheryl, who had fallen back a good way behind me, in the park at the entrance to the city. She rolled up in good spirits, but her right knee was bothering her. She had told me all was well back in Viana, but that final 10k in the heat had aggravated it, so I took her pack off her and carried it to the hotel. Linda had got in a good couple of hours before us, so once I got Cheryl installed and some ice for her knee, I popped off for a shower.
I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with Cheryl’s knee, and Linda’s a sports trainer, so she’s in good hands folks. She’s already got herself an elastic knee brace and we’ll see how things are after she’s rested for a while.
No siesta for me today. After last night’s noisy vigil, I figure I’ll just push through to supper and bedtime to make sure I get a good night’s rest tonight. Bring on the tapas and the wine in the Calle Laurel![/caption;