Stage 9 – Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado
One thing I have learned is that I should look at my elevation map before I leave in the morning – today was a lot hillier then I expected – nice surprise 😳. That said it was a pleasant 16 miles in unexpectedly cool weather (that’s good). Met some nice folks and reconnected with some others.
Not a lot to say about the day or at least nothing interesting enough to need to share – so here are my 2 favorite pics from the day.
Stage 7: Logroño to Najera
For those who do not know me very well let me tell you a little secret – humility is not really my thing. I am very well aware of my white male privilege (that’s what I have friends (you know who you are) and a daughter for) and I trend to either wield it like a sword or carry it like a shield. The sword to fight for justice when my access it helpful (I know I know) and a shield to protect my ego from the world. Now I know that that is not very nuanced, but for this story its enough and its my blog anyways.
My privilege leaves me thinking that I can do anything, the world (and my mom)has told me so.
Like I said humility is not really my goto but the Camino has this amazing way of stripping away your pride and making you come face to face with your shortcomings (its kind of like family that way.) Today was one of those times.
Let me start this tale of woe from the beginning. Last time I walked the Camino I had great problems with my feet. This time so far so good. This year however on the very first day ascending the Pyrenees I wrenched an already bad knee. Needless to say my knees have been bothering me ever since – not a problem, I have had knee issues my entire adult life and I deal (I am very brave)(side bar – A very wise friend, Clarke Hendley, once told me “you know Bob, sarcasm does not translate onto paper” and I have spent my life ever since trying to prove him wrong with little success).
Ok, back to my tale of woe: After my walk yesterday I was really hurting and even got myself wondering how munch longer I could go on. Proof that to much time to oneself and with ones own thoughts can make you think all kinds of negative things. So this morning when I woke up and my knees (yes now plural) were still hurting and I did the one thing I said I would never do – I sent my heavy backpack forward to where I am staying tonight and carried just a small day pack I keep rolled up in by bag for evening strolls. YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND – I said I would NEVER do this and I did. Guess what? A little humility and self awareness can paid off. 30km later I arrived feeling better then I had in days.
Pride has no place on the Camino and as I have learned one more time the Camino is a metaphor for life – A little humility goes a long way.
As we pass through this Easter season its nice for this old priest to remember that everyday has the possibility for resurrection – even if it is just a pair of beaten up pair of knees.
PS – here are a few pictures from the day
Stage 6 Torres del Rio to Logroño – Food addition vol. I. But first the walk today was just over 20km, so no big deal and a nice break from yesterday. It was a little hillier then I expected but that’s just fine 😳😬. I hate to tell those of you in CT dealing with so much rain – the weather was beautiful, cool and sunny (my favorite). I have a great little place to lay my head tonight so I am looking forward to going to bed soon. Long day tomorrow but I am ready 💪🏼🤞🏼🤪.
Ok, enough of all that – who cares, you shouldn’t.
Logroño is known for its food and wine, being the cultural center and largest city of the Rioja region. For those who don’t know, Rioja is the finest wine in Spain (IMHO) and one of my favorites in the world of wine. If you haven’t experienced good Rioja wine do some research and report back.
Today I decided to avoid meat, which is a colossal challenge in Spain. So today I am sticking with seafood as my protein source (I know dad, you can get protein from non meat sources but that’s just boring, my dad’s vegan (what the hell?)). Here are some pics of what I discovered, ate and enjoyed. The best was the salad with the pulpo, toasted pine nuts, parmigiana reggiano and balsamic vinegar – this is defently getting recreated at home, but I’ll grill the octopus.
Enjoy – I did – Peace
The answer is almonds, young and not yet hardened inside and Deb Downes wins 🏆🥇👏🏼
Stage 4 Pamplona to Puente La Reina. Todays walk was just about perfect. I started a little later then I like at 7:00 and spent about 30+ minutes walking out of the city of Pamplona. I am not a big fan of the time the Camino spends in Urban areas. It tends to be hard to follow the path as the markers can be difficult to find. If you loss your way you may need to walk back and find where you went wrong and it is both frustrating and seemingly huge waste of time. It is a times like this that you need to remind yourself that time is one thing you have plenty of. You can probably guess what’s coming next – I got lost this morning for about 15 minutes but was able to find my way back when I saw a couple of pilgrims on the other side of the park from where I was.
This is when the day quickly I proved. One of the pilgrims I saw was Stefano my Italian friend that I prepared dinner with the other night (see stage 2). Stefano is a recently retired doctor (immunologist) from southern Italy and a great talker. Passionate about everything, as far as I can tell, and an amateur botanist particularly interested in edible wild plants (how very Italian of him). The day consisted of walking 5 hours in both rain and sun, both up and down hill and getting and giving a language, cooking and botany lesson, with family and a little politics on the side (in full agreement on all things political that came up). It was a 5 hour conversation with long periods of silence on some of my favorite subjects.
The thing you learn quickly out here is that folks who come to Spain as a group tend to stay as one to the exclusion of others. Folks who travel alone meet far more people and experience the Camino not just through one’s own eyes but that through eyes and life experience of others.
There are all kinds of way to do the Camino
For many of us, myself include, traveling alone can be lonely but if you take the opportunity find others along the ways you can also find a new perspective. One of the wonderful things about my sabbatical this year is that not only am I traveling alone now, but later I will be traveling with Priscilla my wife – the best companion along the way I could ever be blessed to have.
Stage 3 Zubiri to Pamplona – Once again I started off early in the hopes of missing the forecasted rain, this time at 6:00 in the dark and walk through the very dark woods with my headlamp for the first time and later to the setting moon and then a beautiful dawn. The walk was lovely being sunny most of the time and very quite. I had the chance to walk along the Argo River almost the entire way to Pamplona. At times I walked with a person or two and for a long time by myself. For those of you reading this who don’t know me well let me tell you “alone time” is not my go to but it was AWSOME – a chance to think and a chance not to think about anything (you could call that prayer time if you were so inclined).
As of the writing of this post (6:45pm local time) the rain has not made an appearance. I am still glad I got such an early start to the days walk because I arrived in Pamplona by 11:30am giving me ample time to explore this rather interesting city. Had a lovely lunch of a dish of octopus and one of eggplant, ham and cheese which is as close to a vegetable I could find besides olives (which while green are a fruit I believe) and hot peppers, both of which I have had more then my fare share of and plan to eat more. Continuing on the vegetable stand- there is a lot of white asparagus in Spain, it is everywhere. Asparagus is about the only vegetable I really don’t like (no need to comment unless you agree, that’s how this works.)
Ok, where was I before I went off chasing that vegetable squirrel? Oh yeah, my day in Pamplona. I walked the city because walking more seemed to make sense at the time. On my stroll I came upon the Plaza de Toro – as one does. The Plaza de Toro is the 2nd largest bull fighting ring in Spain and the 4th largest in the World – look it up and report back. Interestingly it is the oldest engineered cement structure in Spain being built in 1922 and the end point of the Running of the Bulls. I took a self guided audio tour and it was quite good. It focused on the structure, the fights and the lives of the men and bulls involved (and yes “men” because only a man would be silly enough to fight a bull) and the running of the bulls during the Festival of Saint Fermin. St. Fermin was a martyr put to death either during the Decian or Diocletianic persecutions – If you are really bored, look it up and then re-examine how you spend your time.
Ever since I was a child and first heard of the running of the bulls and later read Hemingways The Sun Also Rises I have wanted to run with bulls in Pamplona – yes I was that kid. Now that I have seen a very unglamorized and not at all romantic short film on the subject and have stood on the sand of the ring that has been saturated with the blood of so many bulls and not to few men over the century I am not so interested. “Look mom I am maturing” and I’ll call that progress.