camino de santiago

Bad start. Very bad start. The french man in the bunk below me kept the whole dorm awake with his snoring. When he stopped briefly the two German ladies started whistling at each other to see if the other was awake. Seriously. What. The. Absolute. Fu*K?! They didn’t even speak to each other, just whistled back and forth. They stopped just in time for the pneumatic drill to start his second concerto. I wondered if I bounced on my bunk enough, would the mattress fall through and give us all some peace and quiet? I sat for awhile and observed my wide awake companions. The lovely blonde girl is crying quietly in her boyfriend’s arms, I know how she feels. Our bodies are beyond sore, everything aches and the sheer exhaustion from lack of sleep is really now causing people to fall apart. That is everyone except for the people who snore, because frankly they have no problems sleeping!!!! I slept from 9.30 to 12.50 and then again from 4.30 to 5.30 when snorahontis decided to get up and get ready for the day. I know this because apart from the bag shuffling he decided it would be great crack to keep shining his torch in my face every.single.time he stood up. I am not a violent person, though this morning that may have changed. In an almighty huff I leap from the top bunk glaring at him, making a point of taking my things to the hall to pack. I close the door and take a deep breath. Sean and myself sat on the stairs talcing our shoes and applying the vaseline to our feet. I went to the loo and when I come back this guy is now on my spot on the stairs in-between my stuff! He had probably been kicked out of the dorm. RAGE. I am shaking with RAGE. I grab my bag, unable to speak, for fear of what will come out of my mouth. In hindsight I should have just told him what I thought. Even though he probably wouldn’t have understood. Poor Sean had to listen to my frazzled rants for the next 30 minutes. I realised after this that perhaps this trip would was going to teach me greater tolerance and patience, than I thought I already had!

On our way to the stunning town of Viana we watched the moon fall from the sky and the sun take over its position. Viana was such a sleepy town, people slowly waking, shops starting to open. We sat in a Plaza del Mercado in the shadow of the magnificent Santa Maria Cathedral. It was such a blissful half an hour sipping coffee, while birds flew in and out of the bell tower. Women gathered, filling large containers with water from the fountain, it seems like a fun morning meeting point. “Ola Chica” they smile at each other, job done, they all sat down and enjoyed coffee together in the heat of the morning sun. There was one lady in a blue dress and those black and white brogues, watching her I was drawn back in time to a simpler more elegant world. One without instant access to anything. A time where romance was rife, life was simple, people worked hard and respected each other. Where people knew their neighbours, danced with them in the squares at the weekend. I am lost in this thought as we depart. Waving at friendly locals setting up for the day, little did we realise they were having a festival later that night. It just seemed to be our luck that all the festivals happened before or after we walked through a town. I suppose tiredness played a huge factor in us not reading the signs properly. We later heard from Jacqs (and everyone else) that if you made one festival this was the one to be at. It turned out to be an all night street party with everyone celebrating harvest season. People even slept rough on the streets, rather than have to go back for the 10pm curfew of albergues and private accommodations. Before we leave we stumble upon the Iglesia San Pedro. Stunning remains of a church which is being loving restored. Vibrant frescos gave an insight to the grandeur of this building past life.

Now wide awake and leaving the nightmare of my french friend behind we walked away from the walled town of Viana, passing through well maintained gardens of fruits and vegetables of all varieties. Every time I see a fresh crop of peppers or beetroot it makes me long to be more self sustainable, to go back to the land. An odd yearning given the fact that I am a townie. Yet, its there all the same this deep rooted longing. This feeling leads me to another train of thought that is with me more and more on this journey. The thought of growing older with Ted, maintaining an old house, our home, caring for and cherishing this insane bond we have. I see us tending our garden everyday, reaping the rewards of our hard earned efforts. Just as every couple tend to their relationships. There is comfort in this. The ever growing and preserving of a relationship. Two souls becoming stronger and more entwined in each other. I watch Ted as we walked today. I love him more each passing day. Funny to see those words written, I love the man so much my heart could burst every time he smiles my way. Still, I do find newness in him each day to love. I know that this is my walk, my camino. It wasn’t really his thing, deep down I know he would have been happier to be at home, or to have done this in sections, but he followed me any way. He always will do that. Follow and support me. I am overwhelmed by the reality of this. Again for the zillionth time in our relationship I am bowled over by his love for me, for us. Its strange to have so much time alone with your own thoughts and feelings. The everyday thoughts, the subconscious thoughts, the feelings you knew you had, they all come to life in glorious technicolor out here.

The walk through the countryside is slow. Time is passed singing silly songs, having hilarious conversations that make sense only to us, laughter is high on the agenda. My legs are like lead though, every muscle aches with each step up hill on our way to Logroño. With every step I am loosing the anger I felt this morning. Each muscle ripping step is filled with guilt and remorse. How could I have let myself get so outrageously angry with a total stranger, just because he broke my sleep? Shure, its not his fault he is snoring. He possibly has a condition. Possibly that condition is exhaustion!

We entered Logroño after such a long time of walking and waiting. We easily spent most of two hours expecting to be in it soon. You see it has been with in arms reach the whole time. We could see it forever! We finally enter the usual hustle and bustle of a city. I think that we are both thrown by the size and the rush of it. Our calves are beyond sore, to the point of snapping. We walk the arched streets under the twin spires hoping to find a much needed coffee. Sean spies cafe Moderno and suggests we sit and eat. Sitting is agony. Sean orders two glasses of wine and a selection of tapas. We sit and watch the comings and goings of the world out side this cafe. I turn my eyes over the walls filled with images of a time gone by. Pictures of laughing faces that seem to be from when this place opened and further back in time. A well dressed man and lady in their seventies are enjoying their mid morning tapas and wine, talking a million miles a minutes with eyes for no one but each other. I pondered what a magical time it must have been coming here, meeting, dancing and singing the night away in this quirky little bar. What must this town have been like to grow up in? A silly romantic thought, for who knows really what another life is like. I shake my head. All those Agatha Christie novels have clearly jumbled all sense of reality. I could have stayed in this bar all day lost in my thoughts, wandering the faces and lives on the walls. If only I spoke Spanish, I could ask loves young dream what their story is. Feet and legs rested we motor on.

Foolishly we start the walk to Navarette at half one in the afternoon, thinking we have only 10km ahead of us. Half way through our journey we realise its a lot more than this and try desperately to quicken our pace. It is total torture to walk any faster than a crawl. I feel so bad for Sean who is clearly putting on a brave face. I didn’t want to stay in Logrono, it was too loud, too packed. All the same I am glad we are both on the same pain level. God, I am cruel today. The Koreans are eating ice creams and they double back towards us. With the use of sign language they inform us to get a stamp in the restaurant where they just got ice-cream. I love these guys, always smiling. We are grateful, as we forgot to get a stamp earlier.

Hours and Hours pass. No one speaks. The camera rarely snaps.

We walk into Navarette and are horrified to find its full. No rooms. No beds. One of our Koreans friends runs towards us panic stricken trying to tell us that there is no where to stay. Not even the hotel has a bed. I have not felt fear or panic like this in years. This news is devastating. One lady says that she may have a bed. In her small room, there is another English speaking pilgrim on the phone to someone asking them when they will be arriving? He understands that they reserved the beds yesterday, but maybe they could stay elsewhere on the way. He frantically pleads that there is no room for anyone here tonight and he can’t walk any further. I am left numb. People should not be allowed reserve beds. I think it unfair on those that get up early and play by the camino rules. I tune him out as the Koreans are trying to figure out what to do too. We walk the length of the town again and nothing. The next town with any accommodation is almost 6km away, our Hungarian friend informs us. He looks as beaten as we do. I sit down. I sit down because I have nothing left to give today. I don’t care, I will sleep in this spot if I have to. I don’t care. I can’t. I have no energy to give over to caring. Sean, Oh god poor Sean, he limps off to search once more. I could cry as he walks away. True love is: finding a bed, a room at the inn, somewhere for us to lay our heads.

A smile more beautiful than sunlight finds me a little while later. Sean has found two beds. I don’t know how, we knocked on every door in town. But he has done it. There is a new pilgrim hostel that has just opened. To me its the Ritz. As soon as we are checked in Sean walks back out the door to look for our Hungarian friend. This time he returns empty handed. I really hope that Mr Hungary has been lucky and has found some where. I really hope he didn’t have to walk on. Sean looks crest fallen and I know how he feels, it’s like we have left a man behind. We are sitting in the town square sipping icy cold beers while I scribble this. The locals totally non puzzled by tired beer sipping pilgrims surrounding them. Again I wish to speak Spanish. Today was long and so very hard. I cant even think about walking tomorrow. I honestly don’t think that I can. I don’t think I want to. No I don’t want to. I better go now. We walked this far we might as well check out the church and get an extra stamp before we fall into bed.

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