Day 7: Los Arcos to Logroño (One week of walking completed!)

Oh, my. What a day. 28.6 kilometres!
I was up this morning before 6:30 and had breakfast at my lovely albergue. Then I said goodbye to Tammy and Lindsey. Lindsey had decided to take a rest day; her knee was really bothering her and she was quite discouraged. Tammy told me to go on ahead, as she was quite sore and would be walking very slowly.
I set out from Los Arcos, and just as I crossed through the arch at the edge of town, I had a woman call out to me. “Hey! You must be Canadian!”
“Is it my MEC gear?”
“You bet!”
Jodene is from Fort McMurray, and she had walked four days so far (to my six), even though we both began in the same place. She walked 40 kilometres yesterday, covering the same distance I had taken two days to cover! She has quite a time limit to work within. I wasn’t sure how long we would stick together if that was her pace, but I did all right in the morning.
We had quite the hills to cover, as always, it seems. Nothing like the mountains, but they are always a challenge. I knew today’s walk would be long, and it was nice to have a walking partner. We stopped for a mid-morning break, and later for lunch. By that time, we’d covered 18 kilometres. After lunch, there was pretty much nothing until Logroño, the city we’re staying in.
I hadn’t filled my camel pack all the way, and I ran out of water shortly out of Viana. It was quite a walk to the next crossroads, where thankfully we found another fountain. Then onwards again. And onwards. And onwards. We passed a man selling things out of his car, and asked how far it was to Logroño. Four kilometres, he said. Okay, I thought. I can make it that far. We went the long way around a Laguna, and hooked back in the direction we had come from. Finally, we came upon a sign that announced our entry into La Rioja. We began the Camino in the province of Navarre, and now we have walked through that whole province! There were some industrial buildings, but we couldn’t see the city proper yet. We began yet another ascent up a long, long hill. Halfway up we took a quick rest in a tunnel under a highway. Finally we crested the top – and could see the city a few kilometres off yet….
We began a descent. A descent this far into a walk is always risky. One misstep, one fall, and you could be done for. So of course our descent was quite slow. Finally we entered the city proper, but had quite a ways to go before we entered the historic city, where the Camino finally encounters albergues. We had decided to spend the night at an albergue on the far side of town. The first albergues always fill up first, as weary travellers want to stop at the first available space. But leaving from the far end of town is an advantage in the morning.
It was a long ways across town as weary pilgrims, but finally we found our resting place. We are staying in an albergue run by the Iglesia de Santiago – the church of St James. It is small and without amenities. But it has a mass, and then blessing for pilgrims, then communal dinner. It does not cost money, but you can give a donation if you’d like. We were very clearly told that this is NOT a requirement, but only if desired.
I lay down for a bit, stretched, and finally took a shower. I was sitting on the floor writing this blog entry when one of the volunteers came to the door. Does anyone speak English, he asked. There were three people in the room at the time, and I was the only one not sleeping. Yes, I said. Are you Catholic? Protestant. Would you say the prayer for intercession for the pilgrims in English for our service? I would love to!
So, that’s what I’m doing tonight! Very exciting!
Tomorrow is a very long walk again. 30.1 – my longest walk so far. My knees have been a bit sore even when walking, as have my hips. Please pray for my joints to be strong and pain free! I do continue to love my solitude and thinking/praying time, and even in hard days, there are many moments that make the hard work worthwhile.
I have been walking for a full week now, and while I question sometimes what made me come, it is always easy to see and experience my Good Shepherd along the way.