After such a wonderful rest day, I got an early start from Logrono which was rewarded by a stunning sunrise over the cathedral.
It was a beautiful morning, sunny and clear and actually quite warm. Once out of Logrono there is a stretch of paved track through an open parkland. The pathway was pretty, especially in the lovely sunshine, but it was enormously important in that it was the on that pathway that I met “The Sisters”, Susie and KKin, from Puerto Rico, for the first time. I also met Richard, from Canada. I didn’t technically meet Rich at that stage but he came flying past me and I met him officially a little later.
I stopped in Navarrete for a cup of coffee and a look at the 16th century Church of the Assumption and then again in Ventosa where I found Susie and KKin again, as well as Rich, Scott, Nicola and Young.
Just to digress a little. When I stopped in Logrono, I “lost” the people I had met up to that point. It is quite difficult to explain how quickly you form a bond with when walking. My friend Ben reckoned that a day on the Camino is like 3 years in “real life” (his blog is great by the way, have a look at http://simplybencamino.blogspot.com). However it works, if you spend one day walking with someone, you feel as though you have known them for a long time. The shared journey obviously plays a big part in this but I also think that part of it is because the Camino is such an equaliser and when you start talking you somehow cut through all the usual formalities and “ramblings” and get straight to talking about interesting, real stuff. So, it had been sad to say “goodbye” to people when I stopped in Logrono as I had already been walking with some of them for 8/9 days. I did, however, learn to say “Buen Camino” instead of goodbye as I went because people who you thought you had left behind/thought were well ahead of you often reappeared again, which is one of the most wonderful aspects of the Camino. And, the stop ultimately meant that I met up with another wonderful group of people who became my Camino family and played such an enormous role in making the journey so special.
So, the stop on Ventosa was a good one. I spent time with lovely people and there is nothing like a bocadilla and cup of coffee to set you up for the last few kilometers of the day which tend to get a little long.
As you get into Najera, my stop for the night, there is a poem written (graffiti style) on a wall. I got the general meaning at the time and spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about the phrase, “Pilgrim, who is it who calls you?”. It is loosely translated as follows (thanks to Kevin Codd, author of To The Field of Stars):
Dust and mud, sun and rain,
Such is the way to Santiago.
Thousands of pilgrims
And more than a thousand of years.
Pilgrim: who calls you?
What hidden power attracts you?
It’s not the field of stars
Nor the great cathedrals.
It is not the beauty of Navarra
Nor the wine of Rioja
Nor the seafood of Galicia
Nor the fields of Castilla
Pilgrim, who is it who calls you?
What unseen power attracts you?
Not the people of the camino
Nor their rural customs.
It is not the history nor the culture
Not the rooster of the Calzada
Nor the palace of Gaudi
Nor the castle of Ponferrada.
All that is seen in passing,
And it is a joy to see it all,
Is still less than the voice that calls
The feeling that is yet so much deeper.
The power that pushes me
The force that attracts me
I know not how to explain it.
Only He who is above understands it.
I chose the first albergue I came across in Najera. It was right on the river in a very pretty part of the town. For about an hour I had the 12 person dormitory to myself.....then, I was joined by a group of 11 large Spanish guys. I mentioned in my previous post that when I got to Burgos, I got a proper set of ear plugs. Najera is before Burgos, so at this stage, I still only had my little foam airplane ear plugs. They just stood no chance against the snoring onslaught that took place that night. I ended up sleeping on a chair in the living area downstairs. Not the best night ever, but it made for a good story which is all that really matters!
I was privileged to spend a lot of time exploring wilderness areas in southern Africa from a very young age. I got my first camera when I was 6 years old and I have been passionate about wildlife and landscape photography ever since.