Distance walked: 12.8 miles
Album of the Day: iPod still remains uncharged
As I sat in the bar of the albergue eating my breakfast toast and coffee, the woman who worked the bar asked me if I had forgotten my scarf. It was not mine, but I recognized it as Kira’s, so I ran back up to the dorm to see if she was still there. I returned the scarf to her, and on the way back downstairs, I saw my towel that I had left to “dry” the night before. Even though it was now soaking wet after the night’s rain, I was so lucky to have come across it before I left. It’s so easy to forget things, and when you’re not carrying much, the loss of an item can be somewhat stressful. Maybe I’m putting too much value on my possessions, but when I’m dying for a shower after a long, sweaty day of walking, a missing towel would not seem like an insignificant loss.
I left Torres del Rio at around 8am. Groups of dark clouds would roll overhead, threaten rain, and then pass on. Last night’s rain was evaporating, making the air humid and still. The wind turbines stood motionless in the distance. This would be the last day walking in Navarra: today the Camino enters the La Rioja region. On the bad side: gone are the hilly, lush green landscapes; the land is becoming flatter and more arrid with each passing day. On the good side: great wine!
Walking into Viana, a large town along the Camino, I noticed sequential rows of low apartment buildings in the distance. Usually the presence of large-scale man-made structures after miles of walking through the countryside can be kind of jarring, but with their beige fronts and brown roofs, these buildings just sort of the blended into the nearby patchwork of growing and fallow fields and vineyards. I wonder if that was done purposely.
I ran into Lukas and Colin in Viana, and we bought sandwich fixings and sat near the cathedral for an early lunch. We are all suffering from grotesque blisters. Our California friends Garrett and Lynn took a photo of what they termed the quintessential pilgrim scene: Lukas and Colin with their homemade baguette sandwiches, and me sans socks and boots, inspecting my bandaged feet.
My right big toe is disgusting. Despite frequent (and hygienic!) lancings and covering with Compeed to prevent further friction, a quarter-sized blister continues to return on the side of my foot, making walking really difficult at times. Some of my other blisters have toughened up a bit, but I have two pretty new ones – symmetrical twins- on the back of either heel. Yay. I have heard about every blister prevention and treatment theory imaginable, most of them contradictory and almost all of them completely useless.
I walked mostly alone all day. I like to meet up with friends at stopping points, but I think I get the most out of walking when I’m by myself. I ran into a Finnish man who had stayed in the same small gite with me over a week ago in St. Jean. I couldn’t remember his name, but he could remember the only words that I know in Finnish: “Hölkyn kölkyn!” (a nonsense form of “Cheers!”), he shouted to me in greeting. I also walked a bit with Olivia, an American from North Carolina whose family is Mexican. We walked for over an hour together, talking mostly in Spanish. Sometimes I get better Spanish practice talking to other pilgrims; Spain Spanish is really fast!
Charlene, Lukas, Colin, Anthony, Kira, and I checked into the same hostel. We met up with our friends Jean and Ann from Seattle and Kris and Jasmine from Germany for coffees/beers and then one last dinner together. Jean and Ann would be leaving for Paris the next day; Anthony, Kira, and Charlene planned to continue walking the next day, while the rest of us decided to stay in Logroño for another night, either because of love for the town (me) or out of need to give the blisters some rest time (also me). We ate in one of the main plazas and watched nearby families read to their kids at cafe tables, dance with them to the music of the accordion players, or teach them to rollerblade in front of the church.
On the walk back (well, at least for me, since I was tired and wanted to go to bed!) we heard the sounds of music coming from a nearby building. I knew what it was and bolted up the adjacent steps to take a look. A flamenco class was going on, and through the window you could see a studio of women in black tanks with red fans in hand twisting and stomping to the music. I love flamenco, and it brought back memories of 2002 when I sat in a bar in Granada, Spain, dripping with sweat and sipping a sangria, and watched my first flamenco performance. I went to bed happy.