September 26: Nuria

In Azqueta I stayed at La Perla Negra – an albergue that my new friend Nuria, whom I met at La Casa Magica, had talked about.  I was the first of 5 guests to arrive that day, and on arrival there was a pack waiting that had been shipped ahead.  Later, Nuria is there!   I was very happy to see her.  I felt like we really bonded during our two days together in Villatuerta.

And while this is off subject, let me just say how wonderful the vegetarian dinner was at La Perla.  Elena, the owner, made us a hot green soup, the best tomatoes so ripe and lush, fried peppers, and tostado – a Spanish omelet with potatoes and lots of olive oil.

Monday morning I left before Nuria knowing she’d catch up to me.  She did.


We walked together to Los Arcos.  It was a beautiful walk for much of the way, through harvested wheat fields, and then vineyards interspersed with asparagus.

At the base of that tree was an elderly couple playing Those Were the Days on violin and accordian.  What a wonderful treat!  The sky was just phenomenal there, too.20160926_092258.jpg

We got to Los Arcos and were very early for the bus to Logroño,  so we had lunch.  It was very good, including fresh trout.

Sadly, the bus didn’t take very long.  Nuria left for the train station, while I started walking into the city center to find lodging for the night.  Accompanying me was a German woman we’d met in Villatuerta.   I hate to say this, but I was glad she decided to stay elsewhere.

I was able to get a solo room for cheap, and proceeded to sneeze almost incessantly.   Uh oh!  This was late in the afternoon,  so I  settled in, washed some clothes, etc.

Couldn’t decide on food that evening, so went to bed feeling miserable.  Fortunately,  I was able to do some sightseeing, mostly at churches, before heading back to the bus station on Tuesday about noon.





By now I have a bad cough – no denying that I’ve got a cold.

On to Santo Domingo de La Calzada.

The Way is the Journey: September 25

Started out fairly strong today and made my way reasonably quickly to the town of Estella.  This qualifies as a city, albeit a small one.  Last year its population was 14,000.  Some of the villages I’ve been staying in have populations hovering in the 200 to 300 range!

I wanted to stop in Estella,  as there were a couple of museums, at least 3 churches, and a number of plazas to visit.  So, I kept going.  The guidebooks fail to mention that one must be superhuman to meet the suggested days of walking and actually see anything.  I have to go back to work eventually, so I must choose.   Perhaps I’ll come back someday and do this by car!

Reached the next village of Irachi, which is the home to the wine fountain and wine museum, courtesy of the small, local winery.  It was turning windy and gray, so I stopped in the church to attend mass.  This was a very barren church,  but it was beautiful in the simplicity of its bare soaring naves.  When I  left, I was surprised by a courtyard to one side that had been set up for brunch, with a jazz band playing “Girl from Ipanema. ”  A study in contrasts, to say the least.

When I  left there I was feeling very alone, an outsider in this small but apparently tight-knit community.   I didn’t want to continue,  but one must.  As a practical matter it can be remote between villages, and unless there is a bus stop, there doesn’t seem to be any way of securing assistance in any event.  Besides, I came here to make my way to Santiago,  not to give up in Irache!

As I made my way throuh a forest and then through agricultural land, I fully realized that there is no way I’ll be able to walk the rest of the way.  The other thing I’m learning is that much of the Way is internal – that the Camino exists every moment  whether I’m on my feet or in a seat on the bus.

I had low energy today.  I will try to eat enough at dinner tonight,  and to ensure I have actual meals tomorrow, too.  I am thinking that insufficient food is at least partially responsible for the low energy.

In any event, I stopped for the day at Azqueta, a town of one through street that seems to go on for no  more than 4 blocks.  Am staying at what seems to be a lovely albergue in an old home.  The sleeping spaces are on the top floor,  but the shower is on the bottom, with 34 steps between!  The hot water was plentiful, and there are 3 beds per room.   Unfortunately, I have the room with two men in it.  On the plus side, our room has the toilet, which is no small thing.

Tomorrow I will make my way to Villamayor de Monjardin – of course up a steep hill – and will try to see a bit of the place with its population of 150!  Then on through about 12 kms of esentially nothing to arrive in Los Arcos, population 1200.  I will see what I’m able to do then, if anything.   I might try to get a bus into the next actual city, Logroño, moving from the Navarre to the Rioja region.   Thats right, the wines will begin to change.

There is much going on internally.  I have been thinking of my family and friends, their intentions and mine.  I am trying to stay focused on love – a lesson from last night.  I met Kyle, one of a group of 3 from Wyoming.  He is a liberal (imagine that) who was raised in a large Jehovah’s Witness family.  He was shunned about 3 years ago, for beginning to question the teachings of that church.  He even has a twin brother with whom he no longer has contact.  Where is the love in his family?

Dinner was local vegetarian.  If you love tomatoes, you have much to be jealous of.  They were wonderful.

While it’s not even 9:00, I am so tired.  My body needs to replenish itself.  So, adios until I next have wifi and time.

SEPT. 23 – 25: La Casa Magica

Yesterday I  left El Jardin feeling relatively strong and my foot fairly stable.  So, I started walking from the village of Murazabal.  [Here is a beautiful olive tree on the property. -this will need to be modified when I can get the email on this device to work. ]

By the next village it had begun raining, so the pack came off to get the poncho. No open bar, so no cafe con leche.   On the way out of town, the arrows and street markers had ceased.  And there was a crossroad with one option going a lengthy alternate route.  No one was around and for at least 15 minutes I was unable to decide what to do.  I paced, afraid to make the wrong choice, as my foot was beginning to hurt badly.

Finally, a barefoot pilgrim came sauntering down the path.  He had no doubt which way to go,  so I followed, surprised at my needing someone,  anyone, to confirm I knew what I was doing!

Dragged into Puente la Reyna and stopped for a cafe.  It had just stopped raining and I figured out the plan for the day:  find a bank to restock on euros, a post office to mail about 1.5 pounds of stuff I didn’t want to keep carrying, and find a bus to the magic house in Villatuerta.  Done, done and done!

I did some sightseeing,  as the bus didn’t arrive until 2:00.  [Pics to be included later]

Lovely and lively little town with a great butcher and fish market.

The buses here between towns are wonderful and inexpensive.   Whizzed through 3 villages to arrive at Villatuerta mid-afternoon.   Found La Casa Magica, checked in and arranged for a massage.

Heaven!  Turns out my foot issue is a whole leg issue – tendinitis all the way up and in both legs.  Very pleased to realize there is no stress fracture.  Was ordered to stay a second day and get a second massage.

There is little to do in Villatuerta, but it was still a lovely day of rest.  It was Saturday and there were a number of young families gathering by the local bar and fronton court.  This is a charming town.  Would like to understand the economics of northern Spain.   This village seems to be relatively affluent and is growing much larger.  I think it might be becoming a bedroom communityof Estella.

The massages were eye-opening to me. My whole  body is wound up tighter than a tick.  One Camino lesson is that I need to ditch all this tension in order to open up.  I’ve been protecting my heart for a long time.  If I can stop turning my own body into some sort of armor, I think my life will blossom more.  Which will be good for my final third.

I’ve never had a massage like that from Miquel.  Not only is he extremely skilled at what he does, but he works from a place of love and healing.  I realize this sounds rather new-age-y, but the Camino is revealing people with servant’s hearts.  This is something that some cooks talk about – cooking with love.   It really is the ingredient  that makes life better.

Hoping for the healing, strength and energy to get back on the Camino tomorrow.

The saying is “The Camino Provides.” Tonight this is true. 9/22/16

Today I had the good fortune to decide to stop early.  This albergue is lovely, and the owners are true servants.  Alicia and her husband Oscar make sure every guest is cared for.

When I asked Alicia (Alethia) where there is a doctor’s office nearby, she offered to drive me into Pamplona to the hospital in the morning.  And when I checked in today, a man from LA came in about the same time.   Turns out he’s a Catholic priest.   We sat next to one another at our communal dinner.

Another man, who is walking 11 hour days (seems crazy to me), sat across from us and at the end of the table was a couple from Portland.   We got to talking about physical challenges and the priest mentioned my limping and asked what was I going to do.

The man across the table, Timothy, is an ER doctor.  He volunteered to examine me, to save me a day of hanging out at hospital.   His verdict is that even if it’s a stress fracture rather than the other possibility of muscular stress, I can keep walking as long as I can bare the discomfort.  So, I’m icing now and have gone back to my Celebrex.  I hope I can put in a good day of walking tomorrow.  Glad I brought surgical tape to create more stability.

This place is excellent.   Dinner was wonderful, and the conversations were diverse, interesting and fun.  One woman is celebrating her 50th tomorrow,  so various folks sang HB in English, Spanish, French, Danish and Korean

I need to look up Richard Rohr, a Franciscan thinker who marries Yungian analysis with biblical exegesis.  Timothy and Father Eugene had a great conversation about this, with the Portland guy joining in.

I am loving the Camino,  even if it turns out to be physically different from my expectations!  This is an incredibly wonderful journey.   I still am not sure why this called to me, but I think it’s going to change me.

[Sorry that my thoughts are all over the place tonight.  I wanted to get them down before I fall asleep. ]

Cannot believe I’ve been on the Camino for a week!

Yesterday I left Pamplona, passing by the church of St. Francis, whom I’ve always admired.


The moon was high in the sky, but I wasn’t able to capture it in this picture.  Walked through and out of the city into agricultural country.  The animal husbandry is east of the city.

I didn’t see the bull ring – I am glad that many Spaniards are trying to do away with bull fighting.  I suspect the art here is lovely,  judging from the public spaces.



From the road, I was able to see today’s mountain pass.  But first there were suburbs and villages to pass through.  I am not yet up to much more than 10 miles a day, with all the ups and downs.   I stopped in a Basque town named Zariquegui.  Stayed at a weird albergue, but the owners were lovely.   The hermana was a lousy cook, sadly.  I ordered vegetable lasagna and got some sort of soggy green encased in mashed potatoes.   I will usually eat anything when I’m hungry, but this was beyond me!

Left before daybreak today and promptly went the wrong way -UP, of course!  The views, as always,  were stunning.


Too bad I’m no good at breathing hard and taking pictures!

Climbed up to Alto de Perdòn, with the wind turbines, this sculpture,  and a food truck.   Had a wonderful juice: fresh-squeezed orange and banana.


Before I reached the top, I saw many of these little guys.  They were climbing up the grasses.  I wonder if they are harvestd?


On the way down, walked through almond groves and saw these stemless flowers on the ground.  This is them growing  – it may look like they were picked and disgarded, but nope.


Stopped along the way to tend my feet and have a ham and tomato sandwich that I ordered the night before.   A nice break.  Marilyn from Chicago stopped to rest with me.  I have a talent for finding little picnic paradise spots.   Yesterday I rested in another small bit of shade.


Made it through two more villages and decided to stop at El Jardin de Murazabal.  It is lovely here, and the owner is lovely.  I hope dinner will be good, as I’m very hungry.

I’m having issues with my right foot.  I soaked my legs in the very cold pool, but once I started into town to see the local church, I realized something is seriously wrong.  It almost feels like a small bone is fractured.  Am thinking of going back to Pamplona to see a doctor.   Glad I bought travel insurance with full medical!

So, there may be another interruption in walking.  We’ll see.

Hasta mañana.

Pamplona -Day 5

I am humbled today.  My legs and feet were feeling mostly better this morning,  and I slept quite well last night in my 10 person albergue room.   But I could not eat anything at breakfast, not even cafe con leche.

Decided to take the bus into Pamplona. It was like a medium-sized tourist bus and only cost € 2.05.   Arrived in Pamplona knowing nothing but got situated fairy early.  My pension wasn’t ready, so I walked around town a bit and saw really lovely churches.

My pensioner brought me some form of herbal tea.  In my room now.  Did a small bit of laundry and mended a shirt.  I’m nodding off from the stomach meds I took.  Hope I I wake up in time to do some sightseeing.


Day 4 – weeble-wobbled into Zubiri

No photos today.

Day began in the same bar where I had dinner last night.  Cafe con leche, potato omelet and water.  Good.  Most of the walk today was through forests, cutting through 2 villages.  Lovely.  But – more ascents followed by a very steep, rocky descent made worse by being at the end of the day.

At one point I sat down on a mossy rock for a pep talk and deep breathing.  I think my guardian angel helped me today. Thanks,  Theresa!

It was truly one foot in front of the other for more than two miles.  Dragged into the town to be confronted by “completo” in the first two albergues Olga and I stopped at.  A lovely Canadian woman and her husband led us another block to a great place where we each got a bottom bunk -a very important consideration when one’s feet are as torn up as mine!

A lovely hot shower made me feel human again.   Got some laughs from a couple of Irish guys in our room.  Now waiting for dinner to open for another pilgrim’s menu.  Hoping for garlic soup again.

Zubiri sightseeing will wait to the morning.   Then it’s on to Pamplona,  either by foot or bus, depending on whether or not the bad blister heals enough.

I appreciate the strength you are sending me.    I think it helps.

Camino Day 3 Sept. 18

This is the obligatory photo outside the monastery today.  Had already walked 25.1 k  over days 1 and 2.  I will make it!


The spirit was willing but the flesh screamed out in pain!   My new friend Olga (Canadian via Holland) and I walked from the monastery this morning, stopping at the first village for “second breakfast”, again in the rain (but not like yesterday ),  and then faced another ascent.


When we got to the second village,  after less than 7 km., we decided to stop for the day at a Casa Rural.  We have our own room, our own bathroom, and a lounge/kitchen.

I think I am still a bit jetlagged, and definitely in need of rest.  I  feel good about takingthat rest. Espinal is a small lovely village.  We went for a pre-siesta dinner, not knowing if we could stay awake for actual dinner.  Three apps, two primos, two desserts, a bottle of wine, one tea one cafe con leche: under 40 €!


Ready to face the ascent and steep descent into Zubiri tomorrow.   After that, it’s on to Pamplona.