December 26, 2010
Although we had promised ourselves that we would not do so, due to circumstances beyond our control, we walked in the dark for about an hour. It was spooky and a bit scary, especially because all we had was Becky’s small flashlight. I was afraid we would run out of battery. The chilly evening got colder and the crisp air under a waxing moon made it spookier. At one point we walked by some shrubs and a bevy of birds took flight, startled by us, they startled us! We walked into Los Arcos at around 7 p.m. An old woman carrying firewood greeted us, que tarde! she exclaimed…we found our way to the albergue Alberdi. the cinder block building was added on rooms behind a car port. The bathrooms were in another area, and we left our backpacks in the room where two Korean women were also housed. Rae, the older one is a grad student at Ohio State Univ. The other one is a student in London. They will not walk the whole way. Began in Pamplona and will only walk to Burgos. They had been at a party at another albergue that was closed with some other pilgrims. Becky and I went to the kitchen, in yet another area, to cook our dinner. The tiny electric space heater in the kitchen did little to lessen the bitter cold.
I stood too close to it and burned the tip of my parka; I ony realized it when I smelled something burning. We slept fully clothed in our sleeping bags wearing hats and gloves!
Los Arcos had some interesting architecture and while in the last few days we’d been walking through non nondescript villages in Navarra, I had been looking forward to Los Arcos. I was not disappointed. I did consider the 10 Euros/person too much for the discomfort we endured. We could see Concha Alberdi, the owner in her comfortable rooms watching TV. She was described as welcoming and charming in the tour guide; to us, she was anything but. Liver cleansing proceeded as planned; the Korean women and one of the German men went off to a bar to warm up. We went to bed.
No time for meditation or for reflection. I was exhausted and cranky due to the cold. I do think that one of the greatest lessons of the Camino was that I can survive the cold, even if under duress and not very happily.
December 27, 2010
We breakfasted on a bocadillo de tortilla at a bar and walked to the bus stop; the night before we talked and decided to ride a bus from Los Arcos to Viana mostly due to our lack of rest in Los Arcos and to give my leg a bit more of a rest although it was not hurting. Still, we were tired from the long trek the day before and from lack of sleep. The albuergue in Viana is run by the city and a police officer came and opened it for us when we called the number on our tour guide. My cell phone did come in handy on several occasions. But the albergue was still very cold. We shared the room with the bunk beds with some women who had arrived for a gymnastics workshop. The kitchen was much nicer than Albergue Alberdi’s, although it was just as cold, but it was only 6 Euros for the night!
Since we took the bus, we had plenty of time to explore the town that was founded on February 1, 1219, or so the plaque above the door though which the Camino passes declared. We went window shopping and we imagined what it would be like to live in an apartment in Viana. We found the locutorio and made phone calls and used the internet. Yes, we had a great time in Viana pretending that Becky was already living there! The church bells, the doorways to the walled city, the supermarkets, everything was a sign for her: they even sold rice milk and the same brand of toothpaste at the German supermarket!
MEDITATION FOCUS: In Viana, I focused on change points and possible paths. If and when Becky moves here, I can see myself visiting and spending time here in this remote village in Navarra with the quaint main square and the church bells playing villancicos and the bustling city life outside the casco viejo, the old part of the walled city. And in the summer, throngs of pilgrims streaming through. Just like the Eastern European woman who works at the locutorio, we would be immigrants. Possible lives. Possible futures.