I am feeling a bit better; as I get over the cold that gripped me since Christmas Eve, my head is a bit clearer so I hope to remember more than I have the past few days of how it was for us walking the Camino. The weather here in San Antonio in 2011 is gorgeous, and I am sorry I have not been walking outdoors, enjoying the clear skies.
December 29, 2010
Leaving Navarrete we walk by really muddy fields. Our boots grow heavy with mud. The vineyards of La Rioja do not disappoint. We climb a couple of peaks but not very high, in Ventosa we stop to munch on cheese and bread. While the tour guide suggests a trek from Logroño to Nájera, we take shorter stages and stopped in Navarrete, so the trek from Navarrete to Nájera is short; still, it takes a long time to get into the town; just as with Navarrette, there are warehouses and industrial parks at the outskirts of Nájera; these mid-size towns are growing and are not the tiny hamlets where the Camino seems to be the only lucrative enterprise; here families are making their living in a number of industries, not just farming. We cross two rivers, first the Rio Yalde outside of town, and then Rio Nájerilla, the river that runs right in front of the albergue.
Arriving in Nájera we follow the arrows and the map on our tour guide past the old albergue; it is early evening when we drop off our backpacks in the albergue nuevo, a municipal albergue that only charges 5 Euros, and is already more full than any we’ve stayed at. The hospitalero is an Italian who stamps our credencial and charges the 5 Euros with a huge smile.
We went shopping for dinner at an Eroski, the chain grocery stores that are everywhere, and we bought cookies as a treat! To get to the shopping center, we crossed a bridge and ended up right in the middle of an open air market; must’ve been market day in Nájera! It reminded me of the mercadito in Toledo with the usual vendors with clothing, purses, toys, and such. Back at the albergue we fix a hearty salad and soup. I don’t mind the vegetarian diet we are on, but some times I wonder about the protein and hope I don’t end up anemic. But I trust Becky who’s been vegetarian for over 40 years and seems to be fine. The men are also cooking; one, a Spaniard is cooking chicken and shares with two others. I am tired but also curious about these men. I stay up listening to their tales of the Camino. Pablo, the Spaniard is bicycling and hopes to get to Santiago soon.They talk about a man who apparently is going around saying he was robbed in Burgos and is asking for money. It must be the man who met us outside of Logroño and who gave us that story. We felt sorry and gave him 5 Euros! One of the Italian pilgrims, later we will know he is Luigi, has long curly hair and asks Becky if she has a blow dryer. Of course, not, she says, it’s heavy! He understands, but thought he’d ask anyway.The town boasts of a great monastery, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, which we will not visit, and there are cave dwellings, which we will also miss. We are not tourists, but pilgrims. Still, I wish we had more time to leisurely visit these small towns and learn their history. There is more food brought in by a man who is with the association of albergues; he and his wife have come in to cook and eat with the pilgrims. The talk turns to issues of governance for the albergue association and I decide to call it a night as have most of the pilgrims.
It’s not as cold as in other albergues, but I still wear my wool socks and long-johns when I slip into the sleeping bag. I had picked up some Vicks at the albergue in Estella because Alba told us that it would help ease tired achy feet. I massage my feet with Vicks and find that it’s true! I thank my feet for not blistering, for not hurting, for carrying me and my gear every step of the way. I am grateful for so much! We fall asleep to the sound of snoring. At least I do, I’m not sure Becky is getting much sleep. She has her flashlight and I see her get up a couple of times before I fall asleep.
MEDITATION FOCUS: I bought postcards for my friend Olga Nájera Ramírez from this town that bears her family name. I meditate on how many of us, Chicanas, have roots in this northern land. So many Basque names, too, Anzaldúa, Izaguirre, etc. If there is cellular memory, we carry the memories of what has happened in these lands within our blood as surely as we carry our MeXicano memories. Someday science will uncover the mystery, the secrets of genetics and of blood memory. I focus on the interconnectedness of peoples across time and space. I keep predicting that that will be the next revolution and that it will change the way human beings are human–when we can explain ley lines, esp, energy waves. When we understand the connection between feeling and emotion to the land, we will understand our relatedness to the landscape and to the skies. We will understand how it is that we are ONE.