A Travellerspoint blog

DAY SEVEN- TORRES DEL RIO TO LOGRONO

semi-overcast

As we had done a long walk yesterday we knew today would be a short walk (only 20 kilometers), so we decided to wake up half an hour later and leave closer to 8am. Today is the seventh day, we have been on the Way for a week, and what have I learned?

I have learned that the blisters on my feet are painful; to carry a backpack can create red marks on my hips; everything that I put in my backpack I have to carry and it has weight, it can be minimal but it has a weight that adds up; I have a new best friend “my backpack”; I do not need too much to survive and can carry less; the experience has been amazing; Spain and the south of France have stunning landscapes; every day the landscape changes and is another magical day; I can walk for six days at around 25 kilometers a day; it is better to start the days early; the last walking hour is the worst time of the day for me; my body tells me when it is enough and needs to stop to recover; I can always ask Simon to carry things for me, but he starts to suffer too and …. complain later.

It has been a wonderful and painful experience, we have met incredible people, each of them with different reasons for undertaking the Camino. Some of them are doing the walk in stages, five days this year, another five next year; … but for us we are going to arrive at Santiago in around 24 days (oh God).

The day was “short” but for me today was quite hard. I am not sure if it was the wine I drank last night, or if it was the weather – it was a really sunny day. Simon walked like a rabbit and I was walking like a turtle. He waited for me two or three time for a long time so I could catch up, but I was so tired. My blisters are better, but I got a new blister on one of my toes, ha ha ha.

The first three hours was between desserts and dry areas, with some great scenery. The other half of the day was between cities; it was probably a reason why I did not enjoy today so much, with all the noise and cars. Our arrival in Logrono took forever, but finally we got there around 1pm.

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Logrono is a big city, with an old city inside it and a beautiful cathedral and a street to try the best tapas and wine. We were absolutely blessed to stay with a lovely Spanish family. They were incredible people and they looked after us completely. Lunch and dinner were delicious, we could wash our clothes, and re-organize the weight in our backpacks. They were Spanish angels and they gave us an abundance of energy to carry on our Way.

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Unfortunately when we arrived at the house in Logrono we found a message on Facebook from Natalia who said she had been in the hospital last night and her feet were swelling and she had blisters on her legs. I had a hope to meet up with her again on our Way but I never thought it might be in these circumstances. We saw her and she is fine, she just needs a couple of recovery days, and she will probably need to take buses crossing some of the stages to save time and still arrive in Santiago.

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It was a really hard decision for me to leave her in Logrono, but I also knew I couldn’t do much. Thank God the family that we stayed with is going with her to see the doctor again tomorrow, and I am sure they will help her to make the best decision about how to continue. Impressive how the body tells us when we are tired and how this expression is different for each of us.

I have been complained about my blisters and hips every day, but it made me realize the blessed persons Simon and I are. Each day when we arrive to hostels or during the day, we have seen how worse some people are compared to us. Some of them have enormous blisters, other have to stop walking for days, weeks or even for longer, some have had serious problems as colds, flu, tummy bugs, etc. Another lesson in this experience for me.

Posted by erika_simon 11:15 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY SIX – ESTELLA TO TORRES DEL RIO

semi-overcast 22 °C

We knew today or tomorrow we would have to walk 30 kilometers, but we could choose which day to do it. I was really scared because until now we have only done around 20 or 25 kilometers per day, apart from the first suicidal day which was a very difficult 26 kilometers of climbing uphill.

An early start was necessary so we left just after 7am. Every day is more difficult to leave early because the days in Spain are getting shorter, and daylight is later every day. It was a rainy day most of the morning, however it was perfect for us walking. It was not hot, and with the clouds great weather for walking.

We left our hostel, and joined a group of Canadians and were walking together and having a chat from 30 minutes after we started, and together we discovered a place called “Bodega del Vino”, with a message like “If you are pilgrims you have to drink our wine to arrive at Santiago”. There was a wall with two taps and instead of water it was wine. I thought: two days before we had raspberries, yesterday grapes and today at 7:30am free wine, what can I expect tomorrow? This way is magic. I have never drunk wine so early, ha ha ha.

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It was wonderful wine and I think it gave us energy to do the 30 kilometers that day. Simon was far off in the distance most of the day, he walked extremely fast today and I was running to catch up with him. The way was flat and we had yellow and cream colors all around us. Many people thought it was a boring landscape: flat and like a dessert, but actually I enjoyed it because it was different from the previous days and we could walk fast.

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The raspberries and grapes were still there in some areas, so our daily yummy doses of Spanish fruit was there for us again. Our eventual arrival at Los Arcos was really early, with 20 kilometers done before 12pm, and then a decision was made to continue to Torres del Rio which was another 10 kilometers, but only after a delicious lunch. We had another two and a half more hours to walk, appreciate vineyards, the fields of different colors, churches and little town as we went.

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The last hour for me is always the worst because all I want is to arrive fast at the hostel, throw down the backpack and take my boots off. To not see the town each time you turn a new corner or walk over a hill is an interesting feeling, and at these moments my mind starts playing funny games, like asking me why am I here? Should I hitchhike? Should I walk faster or slower? If I ask, will Simon carry me, or my bag, or both? It is the worst time for me during the walks.

When finally we arrived at Torres del Rio, it was a small town and we were blessed to stay in the Casa de Mari, the best albergue we have been in so far. It was a private place, Mari was the owner, and we were lucky that there were only four other people there that night, and in our room only one more person, so it was a semi-private night with no snoring and space to open our backpacks and spread our things around the place (create a little mess).

We had a fabulous night with the six of us in the hostel. The owner Mari brought us food (for free), homemade food, potato with chicken, and another person had made pasta, so we bought wine, and it was an amazing night with a great view and excellent conversation. However, we each had to drink five glasses of wine to finish the bottles, and still have to walk the next day - 20 kilometers which was a concern, ha ha ha.

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My body is still feeling a little weak. From the fours blister I had I have now only two, my hips are still in pain and are very red. My body is getting used to my backpack, and I can say that the relationship with my backpack is getting better everyday. It is my best friend who I have to carry everywhere for the next 25 days, ha ha ha.

Today was a magical day: we started with wine and finished with more wine; there were flat areas which made our way easier; homemade food, and excellent company; a body which is recovering slowly from all the abuse; a mind which has time to contemplate much about life; and a hostel with space for me to have a relaxing and quiet sleep. I thought it would be great day to dedicate to my gorgeous sister, which is one of the best relationships that I have. She always creates magical days for me, and there we go, a perfect long day with her walking beside me.

Posted by erika_simon 10:34 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY FIVE – PUENTA DE LA REINA TO ESTELLA

sunny 25 °C

Today we decided to leave early in the morning as yesterday the results of arriving early at the last stop of the day were wonderful: time to choose our bed in the hostel, to cook, have a nap – Spanish siesta, upload some blogs, visit the town, etc.

I was concerned about walking in darkness but it was not a problem as we joined a group of people with torches and it fine. We walked in the dark for nearly an hour and it was really fun. The beginning of the day was with a mountain to climb, which I hated it, because it was too early for me to spend a lot energy trekking uphill. At the top there were people making crosses with sticks from and putting them in the fence, something peculiar which we started to notice more often. I am not sure the reason to do this, it was maybe a sign or a kind of reward that they were capable to climb the mountain.

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The landscape was similar to yesterday’s scenery, most of the land was flat areas with soil already to plant something; raspberries and grapes appeared all along our way for our morning tea; and there were a few towns with old houses, bridges, and churches.

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Today I met Yolanda, a Spanish yoga instructor. We chatted nearly all day, and she walked so fast that she made me run too. It was great to sweat a bit and really pass some distances quickly. She made me think about the weather, which she was grateful for because the weather has been amazing. I had not considered this, but we have had the perfect weather to walk between 5 to 8 hours daily.

Along the way we saw many vineyards full with grapes which I picked up in bunches, but only the ones which were on the ground (only those ones I promise). It made me think about my dad, and my father-in-law. These two men have been examples for me. As the grapes which are a representation of fruits arriving every summer and be used to make wine, these people have created fruit in our life, they are examples for us.

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My father taught me many things, but the one that I recognize the most is the focus and discipline to do things; Eddie is the best teacher I have ever had, and thanks to him I know which grape bunches I can pick up this morning, ha ha ha, for instance.

Estella is a beautiful old town. It has an old area with two old churches, San Miguel and San John the Baptist. This town has received pilgrims for decades, and our hostel used to be a hospital for pilgrims. Two special things happened today for me at this stop:

1) Firstly, there was an old man selling book markers for 1 euro to pay for his journey to Santiago. The markers were made and decorated by him. The interesting thing was he is doing a movie (this is what he said), he asked me if I was from South America and if my ancestor were indigenous. I mentioned that yes on my mother’s side my ancestors were Muiscas or Chibchas, but I do not remember the exact group very well.
He asked me for the favor to be in his movie as I was an exotic person - he has never met a South American indigenous person, ha ha ha. He took his video recorder and asked me what is the reason I am doing the walk? I had 20 second to answer. I will probably be famous in this movie, we never know.

2) After my moment of fame, I was informed there was a mass for the pilgrims in one of the churches. I ran to make it there on time and it was special mass for us. I have not heard a mass in Spanish for a long time, and it was nice to remember this. At the end the pilgrims moved to the front and the priest blessed each of us and gave us the Prayer of the Pilgrimage, which we are supposed to pray every day.

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I also remember today is the birthday of my cousin Adriana, and I knew she would be so happy to see this church and she would be here explaining to me the meaning of the symbols and saints in this beautiful place. Adriana happy birthday!!!!!

Posted by erika_simon 10:26 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

DAY FOUR – PAMPLONA TO PUENTE LA REINA

overcast 22 °C

After a nice relaxing day off in Pamplona we started our day earlier than usual at 7am. It was dark but because we were in the middle of the city it was not a problem. My feet are much much better, which made me happy, the blisters have dried and the red areas on my hips have started healing.

The walk today was 22 kilometers, and we knew a high hill was waiting for us. The scenery changed completely compared to the previous three days, so there are no more forests and enormous trees, and most of the areas now are flat with crops of vegetables, fruit and flowers. There were a couple of areas with nothing which I think are soils being prepared to grow something later.

The landscape was gorgeous and it was possible to appreciate the view from far away. We could see areas full of sunflowers, and even though they were dead it was still a beautiful sight the middle of the fields, I cannot imagine what they must look like when they are alive. It must be even more amazing.

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The high mountain we needed to cross was called the Mountain of Forgiveness. It is believed that in the past when the pilgrims climbed this mountain all their sins were forgiven in case they died during the next days of their journey. The mountain was 800 meters high, but it was not difficult to climb, with the way being mostly around the mountain which made the climb really easy and the view from the peek absolutely stunning.

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On the peek there were also many windmills, it reminded me of Palmerston North, the city where Simon and I live. Also on the top there were 14 bronze sculptures as a representation of a hospital for pilgrims that was located there many years ago, and with the following expression: “Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas (Where the way of the wind cross with the way of the stars)

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On the way down we crossed three or four medium-sized towns, with their lovely Spanish architecture and vegetable gardens. On the sides of the track we are still finding blackberry vines, and of course I still pick them up and today there were also some grapes which I also collected. I definitely can’t leave the 2 dollars that Anne would to pay for them, we would be broke by now with the amount I have picked up, ha ha ha.

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We saw some new people today, because most of the pilgrims who we started with have continued on their way yesterday while we rested. We met some great individuals, a nice French lady Liz who started the way in France and has been walking since the 22nd of August, more than one month, unbelievable, more than one month walking and she looked so happy. She told me that the first week is the hardest, I hope she is right.

The hostel today in Puente de la Reina is the best place we have stayed. It was big, has a large kitchen, and free internet. We loved it. Also in this town today was celebrated another festival, and I could see the bulls running around the streets, like Pamplona. They were not big bulls, really they were big cows, but it was funny and scaring to see some brave locals calling the attention of the animals, and other locals running to avoid getting hurt.

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I also wanted to talk about the signs of the Way. This part of the Way “el camino frances” has indicators posted approximately every 500m. Many of them are the shell symbol of the Way, painted on floors or on the walls. Also yellow arrows are used to show the way, and a red and white flag as well. It is really interesting to find the Way so easily, many walls or trees have signs, so there is almost no way to get lost.

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Signs in the life are so important and usually I miss some of them. When this morning I saw the windmill and remembered New Zealand, I thought today is a day to dedicate to the people at work. People who are now my friends and are part of my family in New Zealand. Yesterday I got an email from work talking about a big change in our team, and I reflected during my walk today, as the landscape has changed it is similar to what is happening at work: things are going to be different when I return next year. I am sure everything is going to be great and changes are good in life, like in nature. I am sure the dead sunflowers are going to grow again in the next spring and will make wonderful scenery in this section of the Way once again.

Posted by erika_simon 09:05 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

THIRD DAY – ZUBIRI TO PAMPLONA

sunny 25 °C

In this hostel, the owners did not turn on the light at 6am, but people started making noises around this time anyway, so it was the same, meaning we were awake at 6am, ha ha ha. Many of other pilgrims were outside doing exercise and stretching their muscles. We had not done this the previous day, so for me this was the first lesson of the day. After a coffee and some soup which a Korean family shared with me, we started our 7 hour walk.

Overall this day was easy, all the way was nearly flat without too many difficult bits. We crossed more little towns, waterfalls and old bridges. Today we had the opportunity to enter a couple of churches which were simple, beautiful and small. We saw many cows and sheep with bells around their necks which made a wonderful noise, and was music for us during our walk.

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Also, today most of the walk was in the middle of the forest, and because it is autumn the color the trees are gorgeous. We were walking in many areas with paths that were full of leaves. On the bridges there were locals fishing and children running and playing, but a big difference from the other days, we finished the walk in a city “Pamplona”. Arriving in this city, the scenery changed drastically, cars, noise, pubs, shops, people, …. a city.

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A good friend of us had suggested we stay two days in the big city: the first day to arrive and relax, and the second day to explore the city a little bit. We stayed in Pamplona two days and it was great. This is a middle-sized city, with a gorgeous cathedral in the center of the old city, and with stunning architecture, churches, buildings and fountains.

We visited the streets where the bulls run in July in the San Fermin festival, the plaza de toros and also we could see a large number of friends and family together having dinners on the streets at large tables. We were lucky our second day here was a Saturday and this weekend it was the festival of San Fermin Chiquito. A small festival, without bulls, where people meet in the main streets to drink, sing, dance and have fun.

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My body started feeling much better, and I think the two days in Pamplona was a good idea. My body needed to have a break from the backpack, boots and the stress of walking all day to arrive at the next town. I am happy to have recovered enough for the next few long days. Until now we have been walking around 25 kilometers between mountains, over the next few days the distances are going to increase to 35 kilometers, because we have heard we are finishing the Navarro area (mountains) and are going to the La Rioja area which is a flat area (we will see)

Talking with Natalia, I remembered today my godchild Valentina is undertaking her exam for University admission. I thought it would be great to dedicate these two days to her. I have prayed for her and sent many angels to her to make her dreams come true. I love this little girl, she has been another angel in my life, she is a teenager who knows what she wants and also knows that she is capable of conquering the world when she wants to.

One sad change in our plans was that Natalia is no longer walking with us. Natalia needs to return to Colombia soon, and as Simon and I have more days in Spain and we could stay two days in Pamplona, she decided to carry on walking to be sure she can arrive in Santiago. We miss her and we knew from the beginning it would happen eventually, but I did not know it would happen so soon. I have a small hope we will catch up with her, maybe in the next few stages, but we will see, otherwise I am sure she is fine and having fun.

Posted by erika_simon 08:25 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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