21 -23 Apr, Quick recap and the previous three days. The terrain is definitely changing from the rolling hills and greenery of the mountains, to more open plains and sharp crested hills. There are even a few dusty mesas on the horizon. The agriculture is now changing from the endless wheat fields of young green stalks which turn the horizon into a verdant waves every time the wind blows, which is often. The constant wind help keep the temperatures down. As we crossed from the Navarre region into Riojo the fields changed from wheat into vineyards with young sprouting leaves just beginning to grow. The result is the green vistas have been replaced by brown and the wind is not so present. Bugs and flies are starting to pop up along the path. (Camino Logrono and Najera)
But with the gentle rolling hills comes a much easier hike and faster pace. The local governments have done well by building these three meter wide trails of crushed rock and dirt which makes the path less impactful on your feet and legs. These trails remind me of the Wizard of Oz’s yellow brook road, speckled with floating backpacks and floppy hats. They both can be seen a long way off meandering across the horizon, leading us to our next bed, bar and church.
Each of the little villages along the way are beginning to look like each other, which is a shame as each has a unique history and story to tell. At this early stage I no longer know which I’m passing through as I only remember my morning’s start point and the place where I have to find a room. Finding rooms has not gotten easier. Yesterday’s heard of pilgrims arrived in Nogrono (a bustling city of over 150,000) only to discover it was Saturday (yes, we forget which day it is) and that they were celebrating a holiday. That meant there wasn’t a room to be found…..or just barely.
After doing the ‘camino zombie’ walk for 45 mins I finally found an accommodation in what felt like grandma’s back room. It was a solo (private) place to sleep, so I quickly took it. Within minutes, there were knocks at the doors with other pilgrims seeking the same. Nogrono is a really cool town. The Pension happened to be on the Pincho and Wine Calle where all the locals and visitors would hop from pub to pub drinking the local Rioja and eating tapas. What a great place for us peligrinos to link up and chat after a long duty day on the trail.
I met another interesting character yesterday. As I turned the corner around the trail I slipped past this disheveled looking guy sitting and standing on a large rock eating out of a jar of honey. It was tough to tell if he was a peligrino or pan handling. As I walked by he yells out in very passible English “Where are you from?” Alaska I answered, getting the usual amazed response. His was, I’m from the Mountains of Romania, that’s why I’m standing on a rock, and Great, I’ll catch up with you later as I want to know more about Alaska.’ I smiled and wished him Buen Camino, but didn’t think I’d see him again as I was moving fast.
An hour later he’s walking next to me dressed in an old set of Converse High Top tennis shoes, cut off jeans, a sweat shirt with a canvas bag draped over one shoulder and a guitar over the other. He turned out to be one of the more fascinating and genuine guys I’ve met on the Camino.
He was a dancer and singer from Romania who spent the last four months walking through Spain. He’d been everywhere and on this Camino (this was his second) he started in Barcelona. We spoke of his walk across from Spain to Rome and to most all major cities in Spain. He survived by taking part time jobs dancing (not flamenco so I’m not sure what type) and singing and playing the guitar. He could speak almost all the Spanish dialects fluently and his English was excellent. His goal was to be beholden to no man and keep his freedom to travel and write his own famous song; but he wasn’t sure if it would be blues or rap…but thought the blues were more soulful so was leaning that direction.
Off he goes
We must have chatted for an hour and I could tell that although I was walking fast, I was holding him up. By the time we reached the next village the inevitable question came….’Darren, can I ask you a question’, this is where I expected the pan handling to come in, and I wasn’t disappointed, but rather pleased. He didn’t ask for money, but instead asked for a loaf of bread.
We found a pastry shop, but the sweet breads were of no interests. Finally, after courting a grandmother with his truly fluent local Spanish, she was enchanted and grabbed him by the arm to personally lead us to the closest Mercado. I bought a large baguette for 1.20 and very happily handed it to him with a handshake as he sauntered down the ally to the next city to sing for money.
He truly was and interesting fellow and in retrospect though we were both pelginos I wish I would have done more for him. If ever I come across him playing a song, I’ll drop a jar of honey into his case. You really do meet the most interesting characters along the Camino.
The Oprey back pack is wonderful, it’s very comfortable, great belt system and has good accessories to make carrying sticks hand free a synch. However, I picked the wrong size. I purposely wanted a multipurpose pack that I could use off the Camino. Perhaps that was not a great idea. 55 liters is too big, its too cumbersome for this style of living/travel. 35 is probably the size to go with. If your carrying more than can fit in a 35, you have too much stuff.
The single walking stick is working out fine. Since getting out of the mountains and foothills, it spends most of it’s time attached to the pack.
Sunglasses, haven’t worn them. Although there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky since leaving the mountains, everyday is walking with the sun, it’s too your back most of the day. One should be close to their destination by the time the sun gets in your eyes so perhaps sunglasses are an unnecessary luxury.
Sleeping bag, shipped home when in Pamplona. The Sleeping bag liner has been enough. One night is was chilly so I placed my jacket over my legs, no problems.
Floppy what – a must. No hat and you’ll burn.
Boots / shoes. As I noted before, I had to replace my trusty old walkers a week before the trip. I’m paying the price as I’m still breaking my feet in. In hindsight, thick soled walking shoes are probably preferable to the three quarter high light boots. In the mountains they were great to ensure I didn’t roll an ankle, but on the flats (which will be most of the trip), they are overkill.
Interesting Links (Camino Logrono and Najera)
- Photos along the Camino and throughout the Iberian Peninsula
- Return to the beginning of this Journal Blog
- Enjoy our Journal Blog about our travels throughout Italy
Camino Logrono and Najera
Camino Logrono and Najera