Each day when I open my blogging app on my phone, I check yesterday’s blog title before composing today’s. I am never 100% sure what day of walking it is. The only reason I know the date is that my watch tells me. Each day actually feels like two days: a day of walking and a day of resting.
This is maybe good in some ways, as it feels like we’ve been here for a really good amount of time. But in other ways, maybe it’s not so helpful. It feels like we should be closer to Santiago! As of Los Arcos, today’s town, we have walked 135 kilometres and have 635 to go.
Today I slept in (see? I AM vacationing it up!) until 6:30 and woke up because I was done sleeping, not because people were noisy. We didn’t leave the albergue until 7:15, and then went to a local panadería (bakery with café) for breakfast. We delayed our departure on purpose, though, since our first stop today was the WINE FOUNTAIN for pilgrims at the Bodegas of Irache. There are fountains everywhere for pilgrims, so you can get fresh water. (I shouldn’t say everywhere – sometimes there are loved stretches without.) but this wine company put a fountain in place with both water and wine! It even had a vending machine where you could buy a glass. (I wonder how many people use that, because all I could think was that I wouldn’t want the weight in my bag!) The sign said, Pilgrims, if you want to arrive in Santiago with strength and vitality, drink some of our wine! After a short pause and the joy of a wine break! I did feel strong and happy!
It was rainy this morning again, but not really too bad. We did quite a bit of climbing until lunch in Villamayor de Monjardin. While Tammy and Lindsey went to a bar for lunch, I decided to eat the hard boiled eggs and fruit is brought. It frankly seemed like too much work to climb the twenty steps to the plaza with the bar, so I sat on a bench in the street next to the church.
All of a sudden, a van drove by, honking loudly. Some women gathered at their doors, and I couldn’t catch enough of what they were saying. I thought maybe they were annoyed at the loud honking. But soon the van came back, honking again, and stopped next to the women. It had a bakery logo on it, and the man pulled open the door and gave the women the bread they asked for. He stopped and chatted a bit, and then pulled away again. The women stood and chatted, and then eventually went back to their homes. It was such a neat little experience, and one that I know would not have been seen travelling Spain in another way. My walking companions and I have often reflected that we get to see tiny villages that you wouldn’t see from highways, and we experience the scenery and landscape in such a different way, too.
After the girls came back, we popped into the church because churches will often have a stamp for your credecencial, your pilgrim’s passport. (It’s what allows you to stay at an albergue, and it is stamped at each albergue.) This church was also mentioned in our guidebooks because it had a very old silver cross in it. The church had a sign that it was open during the day, so we went in. You had to pay a Euro if you wanted the lights on, so I was going to pull out my phone to use the flashlight, but then an old man who had followed us gestured for us to wait and went and turned the lights on for us. He brought us over to the cross (which was well protected behind some bars) and told us it as a thousand years old (if I understood his Spanish correctly!). He stamped our credencials and invited us to light a votive candle. I asked him (in Spanish) if the church still had services on Sundays, because I saw what looked like a little electric organ (definitely added to this 12th century church!). He said, no, not services, mass. Oh, of course, I said. I’m Protestant, not Catholic. Oh, he said. That’s not important. Faith is important, but the difference between Catholic and Protestant is not. He was very sweet and helped me put my backpack back on and wished us God’s blessings as we left.
The rest of our walk was “easy” – mostly flat or ever so slightly downhill with just a quick up and down before the town we’re staying in. But, oddly for our typical walks so far, it was 11 kilometres with any villages to break it up. And the guidebook was right: you could not see the town until you were literally upon it, and the last part of the walk seemed interminable. After six days of walking, it seems like it should be easy and my body should have adjusted better. But six hours of walking is still taxing upon the hips and knees and sometimes spirit. A rest break, a shower, a snack all help one to feel ready to face the town and prepare for the next day. Stretching is also a necessity nowadays!
Tomorrow’s walk is a relatively longer one at 28.6 kilometres. So we rest and renew now in anticipation!

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