10 A Mixed Bag

Rather than go out for a dinner at 7 or 8pm, I decided to retire early and pack it in around 8.

What a lousy night.

Carl from Holland is in the bunk above me and starts up snoring like a diesel engine as soon as his head greeted the pillow. I pushed on the underside of his mattress…..he didn’t miss a beat, and warbled a bit as he went up and down. Everyone in the room was more than a bit tired in the morning to say the least.

I decided to pack up and start walking at 7:00am. It is rather dark, and a cool chill in the air encourages me to pick up the pace. Problem number 1… the trail in Navarette is poorly marked at best. I follow a couple of fellows into the pitch black narrow streets, only to have my doubts these two know where they were going. I stopped and tried to use my dead reckoning. Thinking we should head down out of town, my two friends passed me. Going down, out of town.

If the streets of Navarette were not well marked, the single road leading out of town was virtually void of any makings. This leads to such doubt in the dark. Perhaps my flashlight just isn’t illuminating the markings?

Eventually, with all of the delays to actually find the Way, others join in the search, and we find those rarefied markers. Finally, as a group, we are on our way. The path, once you get going, is pretty simple this morning. Stay on the gravel path….

The morning weather remains cool, and a bit damp with hills and valleys. I love how these are described in the Pilgrim Handbooks. “Rolling hills through picturesque farmland”. Sounds like a real estate agent’s description. Some of the hills were quite challenging.

Each day when start walking, I take inventory of the pains I am feeling. Today my left foot and right knee and somewhat painful. Nothing serious, and if my experience of the past week and half holds true, these will fade, and others will take their place.

Yup….today is certainly no different than any other. My left foot pain evaporates, and is replace with a new issue in my left hip. I’m hoping this is also transitory and will pass with time.

The day is cool enough so my chest is cold, although I am sweating lightly. The combination is my chest is actually feeling chilled. I am oddly comfortable despite the contrast between my back and front. Many pilgrims are wearing jackets…

As the sun comes up in the sky it appears we will have a clear day. There are clouds all around the mountains. Some are quite threatening looking like predators with their claws gripping the tops, ready to lunge at us.

The temperature has been holding around 13c and even though the sun comes up over the mountains it appears we are in a valley…. and the sun will have to come over the mountains for us to have that sun.

One very interesting structure is at the side of the road today. It is a traditional Pilgrim shelter. This looks for the life of my like a Billy Bee hive on the honey bottles back home. Austere makes this shelter sound like the Ritz. This is a stone hut with stone benches inside. Just the thing when the rain is pouring down…not so great when it is super hot outside.

The clouds cover the valley between the mountains and we have a cloudy day. The benefit is the deadly sun is held in abayance while we walk. Lucky pilgrims.

By 11am I am walking into Najera. This tiny town is literally carved into red cliffs, and a little river runs through the centre of town.

At the foot of the bridge over the river I decide a small bar advertising pizza is just the right stop-and-go choice so I can be on the road quickly. It was at this same time the clouds seemed to evapourate and the temperature started to rise….dramatically.

In an attempt to shorten the story, the server at this small restaurant is also the cook, cashier, bar tender, and pretty much the only person who showed up for work today. As a result my exit from this establishment, planned to be 20 minutes, ended up being 90 minutes. And now the Spanish broiler was right up to temperature.

To exit Najera you climb straight out of the valley created by the river below. The landscape is rugged and remarkably red. This reminds me of Clint Eastwood spagetti westerns.

This agricultural area is 95% grapes, and appears to be quite rich. The equipment appears to be all new, large, and of top grade. No old Massey Ferguson’s hanging around here.

The walk is tourturous. My hip is really sore at this point, and when I finally limp into Azofra I am dying for a bed. This tiny town had built a municipal Albergue some time ago, and there are no other accommodations. In town it appears there are so few options for dinner, or even buying things to make something to eat.

Checking into the the Albergue it becomes obvious all the rooms have two beds. If you don’t have a person to share with you get to pay for 2 beds. These people may live in the country, but have all the city smarts. Gabriel, a young fellow from Argentina walks in about 10 minutes behind me, and I ask him if he would like to share a room. He agrees and we are just about to take our turn to check in when Carl from Holland walks in.

I feel like I have jumped the shark, and Carl gets a private room, with two beds, at twice the price.

As it turns out we are all happy with this turn of events.