Monday, March 31, 2003

October 8, 2001
Villafria- Burgos (cold/windy)
5.0m/8.0km - 168.7m/265.2km

We decide to walk this morning and make our way to the refugio on the western edge of Burgos. The refugio is a large cabin set in the middle of a park. When we get there, the refugio office is closed so we eat lunch and wait for it to open. While we are waiting we watch the people walking in the park and soon see T walk into the refugio yard. She has finally caught up with us and we are very happy to see her. After the refugio office opens we drop our packs inside and head back into the city.

Burgos is the home of El Cid and when we reach the center of town we see statutes of him everywhere. There are two kinds of statutes, El Cid as a young man and El Cid as an old man. The young El Cid looks like Charlton Heston in the movie El Cid and the old El Cid looks like Richard Kiley in the musical The Man Of La Mancha. We stop and look at the cathedral where El Cid is buried and then walk over to a Internet Cafe and send e-mails home. J buys us drinks and half way through mine I am lightheaded. Nothing like fresh air, hunger, and weariness to boost the affect of alcohol. After we finish sending our e-mails we split up. J stays at the cafe and B leaves to mail some letters. T and I both agree we have not been warm enough the last two days so we walk back to a sports clothing store we passed on the way to the cafe to see if we can find jackets that will keep us warm. The store is packed with people looking for warmer clothing. It seems this cold spell is not usual this time of year. I buy a fleece jacket, a pair of gloves, a knit cap, and a neck gaiter. T is not sure what to buy and since we have been gone longer than we expected, I go back to the cafe by myself to let everyone know what is happening. When I leave the store I wear everything I bought. Finally, after two day of being slightly chilled all the time, I am toasty warm.

When I get back to the cafe J is sitting at the bar and the second I see him I can tell he is very drunk. He is leaning back the way drunks do when their balance has been affected by to many drinks. He also has a slaphappy smile on his face and is very, very glad to see me. When I first see him he makes me very nervous. I don't like being around drunken men because of my father. Being with my father when he was drunk was like waiting for a bomb to go off. He would start out happy and then drink by drink would move closer and closer to rage and then ultimately explode. There was an aura of danger around my father when he drank and J is confusing to me because I don't sense that danger with him. B shows up and she can see J is drunk and is not very happy about it. We decide to get him out of there.

As we walk down the street I hold on to a fist full of J's jacket to keep him walking in a straight line. We see T walking toward us and when she gets close she asks if J is drunk. I say he is not as drunk as acts and instantly J is not acting as drunk as he was before. When you are drunk you can either slide deeper into it or resist. J is trying to resist it and is now walking without my help. B and I think food is the best thing right now but it is to early for dinner. So the only thing to do is find a bar and order Tapas. T is going to see a movie so we say goodbye and then look around for a bar.

A short time later we find a bar, make dinner out of the Tapas and then walk back to the refugio. When we get there it is dark and we sit on top of a picnic table and look at the stars. J is feeling better and apologizes for being drunk. I tell him he does not have to apologize, he hasn't done anything wrong. I also tell I just have a hard time being around drunk men because of my father. He seems sad, says goodnight to us and goes inside.

After sleeping in hotels for the last two night being back in a refugio with so many people is hard. This one has no heat or hot water and that makes it difficult too. When I climb into my sleeping bag I am wearing most of my clothes and my new knit cap. The bunks have blankets and I wrap mine around me over my bag. As I lay there listening to everyone settle down I think about how much I am looking forward to Leon and another hotel.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

October 7, 2001
Villafranca Montes de Oca- Villafria (cold/very windy)
16.2m/25.9km - 160.7m/257.2km

When we leave Villafranca we head the only direction you can-straight up. It's cold and windy so I put on my rain poncho to help keep me warm. We now have a walking routine of sorts. We start out together but since J and B are both around six feet tall they walk faster than I. At some point they end up walking ahead of me and I catch up with them when J takes a cigarette break. Then either J walks with me for awhile and B walks ahead or B walks with me for awhile and J walks ahead. Sometimes we all walk at different speeds and alone. This repeats through out the day and I end up walking a good portion of the day by myself. Some days we spend more time walking together. Each day is different and whether we walk together or alone it always feel right.

We are walking over the mountains on a trail that leads through a forest. Spain does not have many switchbacks and today we are walking straight up each mountain and then down the other side. The wind is strong and on one ridge it starts playing with me and trying to knock me down. At first it is front of me and I have to lean into it to keep moving. Then it stops and I stumble. Next it switches around behind me and slams into me so hard I have to take a couple of quick steps to keep from falling on my face. Finally it races round to my left side and tries to trip me by making my poncho wrap around my legs. I laugh at it and feel invigorated by both it and the cold.

When we reach San Juan De Ortega we check out the church and then have lunch at a bar close by. Another group of pilgrims come into to the bar while we are eating and we invite them to join us. After lunch we walk to Ages where I finally learn the real reason why the chicken crossed the road.

When we get to Ages we take a break and sit outside a bar just off the main road through the village. There is a flock of chickens milling around in front of us pecking at anything they find interesting on the ground. They drift close to the road and one of them wanders across the road and to the other side. All of a sudden she runs back across the road to the other chickens. The question pops into my mind, why? The next instant a small red car speeds around a bend in the road and swooshes passed us. I laugh. I have heard that doing this pilgrimage has answered a great many questions about life for the people who have done it, but I never expected to have this one answered.

The walk between Ages and Atapuerca is on asphalt road and at first I am pleased with this because it makes walking easier. By the time we reach Atapuerca my feet are hurting and J is limping a little. He twisted his knee last week but it was doing better until today. The asphalt surface has no give the way dirt does and my feet are taking a pounding as is J's knee. We planned on walking to Burgos today but by the time we reach Orbaneja J and I are rethinking the plan. In Orbaneja as I pass a commercial van parked on the street I glance down at the side of the van and see four letters separated by periods that spell out my sister's name. I know the letters stand for something like Maximum Gross Weight Allowed but I am still surprised to see her name.

The closer we get to Burgos the more my feet and J's knee hurt. J is using his walking stick to help him hobble along and B has given me her stick to use. Each step is agony. We decide to stop at a hotel in Villafria tonight and take the bus to Burgos tomorrow and stay there for the day. We are ahead of schedule and can go a little slower for the next couple of days.

At the hotel Las Vagas we get a large room that sleeps three people. This room seems palatial compared to the rooms we have been staying in so far. First thing to do is take showers so we play Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who will go first. I win. Later after J takes his shower I go back in the bathroom and see he has strung a thin rope from the shower to the window so we can hang up any clothes we wash. He has also filled the bidet with water and soap and is using it to soak his laundry in. It is the perfect size for a small load of clothes.

Later we go downstairs and hang out in the bar while waiting for the dinning room to open. A TV is on and turned to the news and we learn about the bombing of Afghanistan. I have no reaction to this. Watching the news is like viewing life on a different planet. We are moving at such a slow speed that the world outside the Camino speeds by in a blur of sound and motion. We are no longer a part of it. The road we walk delineates the world we now inhabit.

When we go in to dinner at 800P no one else is there and we have the room to ourselves through out our meal. Two more parties show up as we are eating our desserts around 900P. Eating earlier than the rest of the world does have its advantages, the food is always the right temperature, the service is attentive, you never feel rushed, and you dine in quiet.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Blog break

Sorry I have not written anything in a while. I spent last week in Denver with my sister who had our sister who lives in The Netherlands visiting. Clear? This week I had my niece visiting me and when she is here I don't seem to have time to do anything but be with her. I drive her back to Denver today and plan to catch up on this site when I get back on Saturday.

I have signed up with Enetation, a comment system for websites. So, we will see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

October 6, 2001
Redecilla de Camino- Villafranca Montes de Oca (cool/rain off and on)
17.2m/27.6km - 144.5m/231.3km

The kids in town decided to run up and down the street in front of the bar screaming and yelling for a couple of hours late last night. Parents, its two o'clock. Do you know where your children are?

We stop for lunch in Belorado today. When we get there a wedding is in progress at the church facing the town square. The square is surrounded by a type of tree I have never seen before. Each tree's branches spreads toward the middle of the square forming a canopy that covers the square and creates a shaded sitting area. Benches are lined up along two sides of the square and close to the trees. The street around the square is filled with the cars of the wedding guests. We make our way around the square to a restaurant that also faces the square and sit at table outside it. While we are eating our lunch the doors to the church open and the bride and groom walk down the steps to a waiting car and drive away as the wedding party and guests cheer them on.

After we finish our lunch we sit and enjoy the relaxing feeling that comes with sitting still and not moving for a short time. As we sit I start talking about an incident that happened in my family when I was 13 years old. I tell about how my father got drunk and went crazy one night. I tell how I did not realize until I was in therapy years later that I had been afraid he would kills us all. I tell how after that night I saw the world through a movie screen in my head that replayed and replayed this memory. I tell how talking about it in therapy one day brought this fear to the surface of my consciousness and how admitting I was that afraid let me release the fear and the memory. After I stop talking there is silence and J sits there looking at me in amazement. Finally he says he now knows more about me than he does about any of his friends. I laugh because what he says amuses me and also because I am embarrassed that I have told B and him about this. I have no idea why I have done so.

When we reach Villafranca we find out the municipal refugio is a decaying old school building without heat or cooking facilities. It's a pit and when I look at the bunk beds I swear I can see bedbugs jumping up and down on the blankets as if they were on a trampoline. We stay in the rooms above the bar down the street. After we take showers we sit in the bar and wait for the dinning room to open. These bar/hotels are deceptive. The bar is always small and kind of rundown looking and then you find yourself walking through a door that leads to a larger room that serves as the dinning room. This room is always airy and cleaner. The service is usually efficient and non-intrusive and makes for an enjoyable dinning experience. Other pilgrims have also picked the hotel over the school and are also eating in the dinning room and we visit with them as we eat. By the time we finish eating it is almost 1000P and we again go to bed with full stomachs.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Camino Interlude
Passport Stamps
St. Jean- Redecilla del Camino

Thursday, March 13, 2003

October 5, 2001
Azofra- Redecilla
Part Two

In Granon we head straight to the refugio, which is in the bell tower of the church and run by the parish priest. It is a very cosy place with a sleeping loft for pilgrims that has mattresses lined up on the floor along both walls. When we arrive we are served a bowl of thick potato soup and a loaf of bread. We eat at a table that has four other people already sitting at it. They seem to be local people and are all men, one of them is the priest. At first I concentrate on the food but after my belly is full I begin to focus on the other people at the table. They are having a conversation in Spanish, which I cannot follow, and after a while I get bored. T has joined the conversation and tells us it is about religion. She is very excited about the discussion and tell us there will be a special Mass at 500P. B and J are also left out of the conversation and after a while J ask me and B if we want to go for a walk. B shakes her head, Id I nod, J and I then excuse ourselves and leave. On the way out we thank the man in the kitchen who has served us our meal. We walk to a bar nearby, order Cokes, and sit drinking them at a table outside in the sun. J says he had to get out of the church because it was beginning to feel oppressive to him. I agree with him and tell him I think T wants to spend the night here but that I don't. As we are talking B walks up and joins us saying she had enough and was not comfortable there either. I don't know what the problem is but none of us feel at ease in the refugio. After we get back to the church we tell T we are ready to get going. She says she does want to stay here and attended Mass so we say goodby and leave without her, sure she will catch up with us down the road.

In Redecilla the refugio is over a bar and opposite the town church. We get there late in the afternoon and since most pilgrims stop in Granon or Belorado, the three of us find ourselves in a room that sleeps 16. On the walls are tourist posters of Spain and when I first sit on my bunk I find myself facing a poster that has a picture of my dog (same breed) on it. As I stare at it I am overcome with a feeling of homesickness.

Later when we ask about a restaurant for our evening meal we learn that the only place is on the highway. And when they say "on the highway" they mean "on the highway". The highway is a two-lane road and it is also the main truck route for this area. The restaurant is a square shaped cinder block building set about three feet from the edge of the road. To enter the building we have to walk on a sixteen-inch wide sidewalk with a waist high railing made out of two-inch plumbing pipe as the only thing between us and highway. When we are on this walkway a huge truck going at least 60mph roars by us. If I had put my arm out I would have lost it at the shoulder.

When we get inside, we see the building is one large room. Across the back is a counter with four bar stools sitting in front of it. Between us and the bar are four tables, two on each side of the room. All the windows are open and every time a truck roars by it drowns out any sound made inside the building and creates a strong gust of wind that blasts in one window, across the room and out another. There is a very drunk man standing at the bar and a very old man sitting at one of the tables. At first we are not sure if we can get any food because this looks very much like a bar and not at all like a restaurant. We go up to the counter and ask the woman behind it, in very poor Spanish, whether we can get any hot food. Yes, we can have_____. We are not sure what _____ is, but B thinks it is some type of potato dish. Since there is no other choice we accept what is offered to us.

We go sit at a table and the woman comes over and lays a sheet of white butcher paper over the table top as a tablecloth. She then brings bread, water, napkins, knives, and forks. The next time she comes to our table it is to bring three plates of food. When she sets my plate in front of me I see French fries and a piece of meat cut very thin and wide like a fish fillet. I am not sure what to make of this when the smell of the meat hits my nose. The aroma is heavenly. I take a bite and taste garlic; this is wonderful. I eat a fry and it is one of the best fries I have ever tried. Golden on the outside and cooked the way fries and spaghetti should be; al dente- slightly chewy with a little resistance when you first bite into it. B and J admit that they both were a little leery of this meal too. We are beginning to learn that on this walk, there are tiny miracles where and when you least expect them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

October 5, 2001
Azofra- Redecilla del Camino (cloudy)
16.1m/25.7km - 127.3m/203.7km

We walk to Santo Domingo de la Calzada this morning. We are going to visit the cathedral there to see the rooster and hen kept in a cage inside the church. A local legend tells how an innkeeper's daughter once fell in love with a young pilgrim passing through with his parents. The boy rejected the girl and she, in anger, placed a silver goblet in his bags and told the authorities that he had stolen it. The young man was hanged and his body left on the gallows. That night his parents heard his voice telling them that Saint Dominic was holding him up and he was not dead. They rushed to the judge's house and told him their story. The judge was eating a dinner of two roasted chickens and not believing their story, said the boy was as dead as the chickens on his plate. After those words the birds jumped up, grew feathers, and flew around the room. The judge took this as a sign that the boy was alive and also innocent. The rooster and hen kept in the church commemorates this miracle. They say if the rooster crows while you are in the church you will have good luck.

When we first get to town we head for the refugio. It is closed and since it is close to lunchtime we go get something to eat. After lunch we make our way to the cathedral and step inside. There are the birds, just as we had been told, behind a glass window set in one wall. Not a sound from the rooster. As we leave and are just about to step out the church door, the rooster crows. Humm, are we lucky or is the rooster "trained" to crow the same way dancing chickens are "trained" to dance in the carnival?

When we get back to the refugio it is open and we have our passports stamped. There is a machine that looks like a freestanding ATM but it turns out to be pay computer with Internet access in the entryway to the refugio. While J is using it to check his e-mail T and I walk over to a small courtyard park straight across from the refugio. We take turns taking photos of each another beside a Camino marker that shows we have walked 118m/190km since leaving Roncesvalles.

When we leave Santo Domingo instead of yellow arrows we follow shell symbols placed in the middle of the road. The cockle shell is the symbol of St. James. Outside town the Camino is a wide gravel road that has concrete posts, one on each side of the road, marking the way. The posts also have the symbol of St. James, here a yellow shell on a blue background, imbedded in them. This gravel road takes us to Granon and it is a very pleasant walking experience. We have heard good things about the refugio in Granon and plan to stop there.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

October 4, 2001
Logrono- Azofa (dry/hot)
13.4m/21.5km - 112m/178km

I wake up at 900A. If I had tried to sleep past 800A in any of the refugios, someone would have already rousted me out of my bed and out the door. I lie in bed for another half hour writing in my notebook and then get up and go downstairs for breakfast in the hotel dinning room. When I get back I turn the TV on and listen to it for the next 20 minutes as I do some stretching exercises. CNN is broadcasting Tony Blair's speech to the British Parliament about his plans for a war in Afghanistan. As I listen I find out that this going to be done to support the United States war plans. We are at war with Afghanistan? I have heard rumors for the past couple of days but this is the first time I hear that it is true. As I listen to the prime minister's speech, I compare his speaking style to President Bush's speaking style. Bush loses hands down. Now I understand why Bush's speeches have always annoyed me so much.

Blair's vocabulary is that of a person who respects the intelligence of the person who is listening. Bush's speeches sound like they have been written so brain damaged children can understand them. Blair reads with the confidence of a person who has already read the words that he is now saying aloud. Bush sounds like a person who is seeing the words for the first time in his life. Blair comes across as sincere and believable while Bush is just the opposite. Bush has certain mannerisms that try to convey believability though. When he wants to show that what he is saying is serious he furrows his brow and looks constipated. When he wants to come across as sincere he opens his eyes wide and at those times, bears a striking resemblance to Curious George the monkey in the illustrations from the Curious George books that I read as a child.

When people find out I am an American they have one of two things to say to me. Either how sorry they are about the World Trade Center bombing or to ask how we could elect George Bush our president. The man is not liked over here and is thought of as a lightweight. The bars we stop in usually have a television set turned to a Spanish news channel and whenever Bush's image appears people groan or get a disgusted look on their face.

The way people here feel about the United States comes out when we talk about the World Trade Center. People are horrified by what happened but at the same time I get a sense that they feel the European countries have been paying the bill for our government's decisions and actions for a long time and for once the bill was sent to the right person. Now Americans will understand that what their government does overseas has severe consequences and these consequences affect the United States too. It's funny, we are liked as a people, but not as a nation.

I leave the hotel around 1100A and walk to the bus station. I am not sure if I will ride the bus all the way to Azofra or not, I would like to do some walking today. When I get to the station I decide to buy a ticket for Najera, which is 10m/16km down the road and walk the 3.4m/5.5km to Azofra. That should get me to Azofra by the end of the day.

It takes 15 minutes to get to Najera. As we leave Logrono the Camino is a wide dirt path that runs parallel to the highway we are traveling on. Out the bus window I see groups of pilgrims as they walk along. When we reach the other side of Navarrette the Camino again runs parallel to the highway and I see more pilgrims walking along. When the bus arrives at Najera I get off vowing never to ride another bus in Spain. I feel like I have been moving at rocket speed after a week of moving at snail speed. The bus is so easy. I am afraid that if I get on another bus I will not get off until I reach Santiago.

A woman on the bus points out the street the Camino follows and I walk over to it and then over a bridge. On the other side of the bridge I am not sure which way to go because I cannot find any arrows. Yellow arrows painted on the sides of buildings point the way in most towns. There is a park along the river and when I walked over the bridge I saw two pilgrims sitting on the ground eating their lunch so I retrace my steps to the bridge and walk down to the river to talk to them. When I get closer to them I recognize them; the Swiss boys as we have been calling them. They are from Switzerland (of course) and are walking the Camino together. I ask them where the Camino is and they point to the right direction and we talk a bit. As we are talking one of them points behind me at the bridge and says, "Someone is trying to get your attention." I turn to look and see T on the bridge waving at me. I laugh. I did not expect to see T, B, or J until I reached Azofra. She and I walk the rest of the way to Azofra together.

When we reach the refugio in Azofra J and B are in the courtyard of the church next door and resting in the sun. B is lying on the pavement reading a book and J is sitting on a stone bench and leaning against the church wall as he smokes a cigarette. When J sees me his face lights up with a smile. He tells me that he didn't think they would ever see me again. He then says I look like I have been walking. I tell him I got off the bus at Najera because I wanted to stretch my legs. I also tell him and B about the war. They are surprised by it. As we talk I realize I am glad I took a break from the Camino and I am also glad to be back on it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Camino Interlude

Here are two of the pictures that I took on my walk. Because I am not sure where they belong I have put them here. I do know they were taken in two different towns between Estella and Logrono. This first picture was taken in a small village where T and I stopped for a snack. It gives you an idea of what these villages are like.

When I saw this mural on the side of a building in this small town I was stunned. It was a visual depiction of the dreamlike quality of my walk. In the lower left hand corner are two pilgrims walking with their backpacks on. In front of them the Camino drifts up into the sky. The Camino as the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz. Above the water fountain, in the distance, is the city of Santiago.

If the Camino is the yellow brick road, is Santiago the Emerald City? If Santiago is the Emerald City, am I one of the characters in the book trying to reach it? If I am a character in the book, which character am I? The Cowardly Lion looking for courage? The Tin Woodsman hoping for a heart? The Scarecrow wanting a brain? Or Dorothy trying to find her way back home?

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

October 3, 2001
Torres del Rio- Logrono (rain off and on)
12.8m/20.5km - 97.8m/156.5km

Start my morning with breakfast at the restaurant we ate in last night. I have a banana, a roll and a cup of cocoa. This is what I eat most mornings.

By the time we reach Viana it is raining off and on. I am walking with P and T under a sky that is beautiful. J and B are up ahead. As we walk the sun plays hide and seek with us behind the big fluffy gray clouds that scurry across the sky just above us. The next instant the clouds huddle together blocking out the sunlight and there is a burst of rain. We run to the side of a building trying to find protection from the wind blown rain as we put our rain gear on. As soon as we get covered the rain stops. This happens several times as we walk.

On the other side of Viana it starts raining steadily and heavily so we decide to shelter in front of a large metal building off the road. As we stand there waiting for the rain to ease up a little, a small truck pulling a trailer drives up. A man gets out and opens the doors to the building, and the truck pulls inside. Ten or 12 men sitting in the trailer climb out of it. The driver of the truck comes over and tells us we can wait inside the building. The building is a farmer's equipment storage shed and the men work for the farmer.

Three of the men from the trailer walk over to us. One of them speaks English so he does the talking. We learn the men are migrant laborers from Pakistan and that they pick the grapes and olives that grow in this region. The man asks where we are from and P and T answer, "Belgium." "Mexico." When I answer, "Estado Unidos", he stares at me for a second, turns his back on me with out saying a word, and ignores me for the rest of the conversation. I find this amusing. He focuses on T, once asking her if she would like him to come with her. T is uncomfortable with his attention and after a couple of minutes I ask her if she is ready to leave. She says yes and even though it is still raining, we go.

When we reach Logrono we head for the refugio where we will meet up with J and B. We get there around lunchtime and find the refugio closed so we decide to look for a place to eat and come back later. Most of the refugios close after the pilgrims leave in the morning and then reopen later in the afternoon, so we know J and B will come back there.

We wander around looking for a place to eat but we are so tired we cannot decide which restaurant to pick. Finally we walk into one bar and when we get inside we see there is no one there. I am just about to say we should leave when the song "Guantanamera" starts playing loudly on the sound system. This is one of my favorite songs and I smile. I look at T and she is smiling too. We stay. We realize that the bar is empty because it just opened up and it is still too early for people to eat lunch in Spain. We relax, drink tea, and eat the tapas the bartender makes. It is nice to sit here quietly, out of the rain, talking and listening to the music. After we have been there an hour the bartender brings us a plate of shrimp tapas on the house.

By the time we leave the rain has stopped and we head back to the refugio. When we get there the doors are open and J and B are waiting. They ask us where we have been, they have been in the refugio since they reached town. Didn't we see the note on the door telling us to come around to the side entrance to the refugio? We were walking on the other side of the street when we reached the refugio and although we could see the note, we could not read it and thought it said the refugio was closed. Something we could already tell because the doors were shut. We find out the front door is locked for security reasons and when that door is locked the side door is open.

The people running the refugio are very accommodating, stamping our passports, giving P permission to take a shower, and letting J and me use the computers. I send an e-mail home telling everyone I'm doing fine. Right before we get on the computers J tells me his girlfriend has broken up with him over the phone. I laugh at the absurdity of it. First T and then J. What kind of a person would break up with someone on the phone when the person they are dumping is hundreds or thousands of miles away? Walking the Camino takes a little planning, so the break-uper has plenty of time to tell the break-upee that it is over before the break-upee leaves home.

P is leaving us. She is walking the Camino in sections and has to return home today. T, B, J, and I planned on walking to Navarrete but now I am thinking of stopping here in Logrono and getting a hotel for the night. I feel the need to be in a room by myself. It isn't until we are leaving the refugio that I make my decision. I'm going to stay. I tell the others and make plans to catch up with them in Azofa.

P says she will walk with me while I find a hotel. I have a list of affordable ones in my guidebook and we search these out. Each one we check on has no vacancies and a couple we can't find, so I am forced to look at pricier ones. Funny thing, I have been using the map in my guidebook to find the street where each hotel is and when I first looked at the map, one hotel name jumped out at me but since it was out of my price range I did not consider it. This is the hotel I end up in, the Hotel Ciudad de Logrono. After I check in I ask P if she wants me to walk to the bus station with her. She says no (she knows my feet are hurting), she will walk there by herself. We say our goodbyes and she leaves.

After she is gone I lie down and take a nap. When I wake up I turn on the TV and find the only English language station, CNN International. For the past week my world has been the Camino and not once have I thought about what is going on in the universe beyond it. After watching for a couple of minutes I feel dizzy and have to look away. There is too much happening on the screen. The news announcer is taking up most of the screen but to his upper left is a smaller screen showing a tank racing across a desert. Below him words scroll across the bottom part of the screen while in the lower right hand corner a small box is flashing stock market quotes. The whole thing is a visual merry-go-round that makes me feel queasy, so I quickly turn it off. I then go and take a shower and after that fill the tub and soak in a hot bath. After my bath I do my laundry and when that is done I think about going out to eat. I am so tired I decide to go straight to bed instead.

Monday, March 03, 2003

October 2, 2001
Estella- Torres del Rio (sunny)
18m/28.9km - 85m/136km

Very early this morning about half past dark I was awakened by the sound of a rooster crowing outside the open windows overlooking the backyard of the refugio. Every 30 seconds, "Er-er-err-er-errrrrr! Er-er-err-er-errrrrr!" After the fifth crow I heard people groaning through out the room. The sixth crow was, "Er-er-err-er-BIG METALLIC SOUNDING CRASH." Silence for 30 seconds. Silence for one minute. Silence for two minutes. I feel people around me relax. Good he's finished. Then, "Er-er-err-er-errrrrr!" People laugh. Then a miracle, he crows once more and after that is quiet.

At breakfast this morning B and T say they want to pick up the pace and move faster. Both of them have to reach Santiago by the 26th and will not make it at the rate we are going now. They need to cover 15-20miles/24-32kilometers a day. J and P say fine. I think about it for a minute, not sure if I can keep up at that pace, and decide to give it a try. We agree to walk as far as Torres de Rio today.

We walk mostly on dirt paths and arrive at Villamayor De Monjardin around 1000A. We stop at the refugio there, which is run by a Dutch Evangelist, and have sandwiches and Cokes while sitting at one of the tables on the patio in front of the building. This is another hill top town and while eating we gaze at the countryside we just traveled through.

We arrive at Torres de Rio in late afternoon and check into an extremely nice privately run refugio. I am very tired from all the climbing we have done today; most of this section was very hilly.

I can't understand why the small villages we walk through all look deserted but at the same time well maintained. This town is the same. The sleeping room is the refugio is upstairs and before we can go up we have to remove our boots and store them in little cubicles underneath the stairs. While I'm spreading my sleeping bag on my bed P comes up to me with a sly smile on her face and says, "Wait until you see the bathroom."

I go look and find French toilets. French toilets are also called squat toilets and using one is like going to the bathroom in a tile shower stall. Only there are no walls between the toilets. The tile floor has a hole in it and two rectangular shaped marks where you put your feet. After examining it for a minute I go back out and ask P, "Which direction do you face?" She says to face the wall. I go back in. Which wall? The one across the room or the one behind the toilet? When I finish I think about the person who decided that putting these things in was a good idea. He or she must have a cruel sense of humor. After scrambling up and down hills all day my legs are tired and the last thing I need is a French toilet. By the way, when you are through, don't flush until you step out or you will get your feet wet.

After I take a shower and do my laundry I take a short walk with P and B. J and T are making phone calls. We find an appealing sunny spot on a low wall next to the church and sit there talking. A couple of minutes later T walks up and says her boyfriend broke up with her on the phone and then she starts crying. We try to comfort her as best we can. Poor T. J walks into to this and not sure what to do, quietly drifts away. After T calms down we return to the refugio where J is waiting. Later we all go out to dinner at an Italian restaurant just around the corner from the refugio. The food is amazing and this turns out to be the most enjoyable meal I have had so far.