This blog is a record of my observations, experiences and crazy thoughts about my 800 kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (April-May 2009).
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Day 11 - Navarrete - Friday, 1 May 2009
Logrono -> Navarrete = 13K (597K to go!)
Navarrete is charming. I feel as if I have stepped back in time. With all the shops closed and the people closeted away for siesta, the medieval character is really evident. The streets are cobbled and they wind around the curve of terrain like a maze or a labyrinth. I only logged 13K, but the town appeals to me and a look at the logistics of going further firm the deal for me (16K to Najera, the next community and no fountains or services before that.) So, a short day for me. Visions of a hot shower, time to wash my hair and the lure of a washing machine firm my resolve to stop here for the night.
I check in, handle my tasks and then wander around the town a bit. It is still siesta so I have the place to myself. I visit the local church. There are many pottery shops. Locals have used the red clay to ply a living since Roman times.
I find an open fruto-seco (a shop that sells a variety of produce and food) and splurge on some bacon which will go nicely with the tomatoes, bread and wine. A stop at the local bar to use the Internet and then its back to the albergue.
The weather has clouded up and rain is falling. Pilgrims scurry around to find a place to hang their wet laundry. Poor R! She used the washing machine to wash all her clothes and THEN discovered that the drier does not work.
The rain keeps us trapped indoors. I find a novel abandoned by another pilgrim and try to get interested in the science fiction story. I sit in the kitchen reading and eying the Asian family as they prepare dumplings from scratch. Cooking is a family endeavor. Later, they invite me to sample some of their efforts..
A pilgrim sits down to eat and finds himself crashing to the floor. The wobbly chair had collapsed under him. The hospitalero rushed in to assess the situation. He did not even offer the surprised pilgrim a word or a hand. He simply glared, then turned on his heel and returned to his desk by the door.An unexpected response. The poor man looked embarrassed and I expect he was sore from the fall too.
There is another American staying here. She is from Boston. I attempt to spark a conversation, but when I introduce myself and offer my hand, she drew back and simply looks at me for a moment. Then she turns away. I stand there a moment before I turn on my heel and walk away.
I return to my novel.My mind clamors, thinking about how people respond to other people in unexpected ways. One would think there would be camaraderie among all pilgrims, but it is not true.
One can be very lonely amid the crowd of pilgrims staying at an alburgue.
I am in bed by 9PM listening to the lullaby of snoring and farting that are becoming the background music of my sleeping hours. (Many people use ear plugs to avoid this stress. I am adjusting, but the volume and frequency of these nocturnal noises deserves comment!) One woman talks on her cell phone long after lights out. I hear her weeping.
In April 2009, I began my 500-mile trek across the rocky paths and mountains of northen Spain. I finished my walk on the the ancient Way of St James (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) in early June 2009.
I consider this a pilgrimage of gratitude. Each step was an opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance life offers; each footstep, one of finding joy. It was a humbling experience. It was a character-building experience. It was a spiritual adventure and a physical one too - who knew I was such a mountain goat? I hope you will enjoy my rambling, stream of consciousness obeservations of my experiences as a pilgrim on this historic pilgrimage route that really is only the begining.
Of course veteran pilgrims know: the Camino never ends - once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim. So, wherever YOUR path takes you, I wish you "Buen Camino".