Wednesday April 20
Distance: 22.5 km
7:40 – The sidewalk was bone dry when I stepped out the front door of the hostel in Viana but within seconds it was sprinkling and a minute later it was pouring. I returned to the hostel and climbed into the giant red hot air balloon that was sold to me as a “poncho.” I then snapped one boot lace when tightening them so I spent a few minutes tying the two pieces together and fusing them with a lighter. Just call me MacGyver.
8:10 – I passed the Ruinas de San Pedro but decided I’d rather have a dry and working iPhone than more photos of assorted rocks. I’ve also decided to do a half stage today, ending about 11.7 km down the line in Logrono. There’s a small town called Muga coming up in about 7km and I’ll stop there for coffee.
10:40 – I don’t know what they did with Muga but I haven’t seen it and I’m very close to Logrono. Perhaps I was looking down and simply walked right through the village without noticing. That’s entirely possible.
I’ve been looking down a lot since accidentally crushing two of these little guys earlier today. The rain has brought them out by the hundreds.
12:35 – I heard the sound of small industrial operation from a few hundred meters away and when I finally saw the facility, I immediately pegged it as a crematorium. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one up close but for some reason I just knew that’s what this place was, long before I saw the sign. I’m sure it’s an efficient operation but it seems so “industrial” when compared with the cremations that I witnessed in Varanasi, India where whole families gather on the banks of the Ganges. After a short ceremony they place the body onto a pile of wood and set it on fire. An hour later they collect some ashes, which are tossed in the Ganges, and they get on with their lives.
12:45 – I checked out two hostels and walked right on by another three before coming to Hostel Entresuenos. Something about the exterior of the place said “pick me.” The lady at the reception desk was somewhere between indifferent and downright rude but I decided to stay simply because it was close to several tapas bars.
16:00 – I have new boot laces! Woo-Who!
22:49 – What was described as an “8-bed dorm” turned out to be a “8 bunk bed dorm.” In my world this is a “16-bed dorm” but perhaps something was lost in the translation. I’m not impressed with the facilities, management, or the other backpackers. There are four retired German couples in my room and they each have a thing with zippers, crinkly plastic bags, reorganizing their packs at bedtime, huffing, puffing, sighing dramatically and now snoring. Some of them have been at this (all but the snoring) for 45 minutes. The guy below me is dangerously close to being asphyxiated with a plastic bag once the lights go out.
Thursday, April 21
5:30 – The seniors are early risers! With the racket they made before bed, I thought they would be pre-packed and ready to slip out the door without making a sound. Nay, nay, nay. One guy has been rustling plastic bags for 30 minutes and the others are now following suit.
6:48 – I’m back from the bathroom. Note the time.
6:50 – I’m dressed, packed and ready to go. Two minutes, people. TWO minutes.
7:20 – I stopped at a busy cafe for a cafe con leche and a pastry. While eating the raspberry filled pastry, Prince’s Raspberry Beret was playing on VH1 Classics. It struck me as ironic but little did I know that His Purpleness would be dead within the day. The second and more obvious irony was that Raspberry Beret was followed by Wham! and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. It should be the theme song of the German seniors.
10:03 – Just when I felt like a mid-morning break, a small cafe appeared out of nowhere. I was just sitting down to enjoy a coffee and bocadillo when I heard the “little girl voice” of one of the German seniors. Time to move on! (Although very annoying, the woman could probably make good money voicing cartoons as she sounds just like a five-year-old girl.)
11:29 – I walked the last few kilometres into Navarrete with Audrey from Kelowna and Rod from Victoria, BC. Rod is in his early 40s and has been travelling since December when he sold a business in Canada. He has no firm plans for the future but after I answered about 200 of his questions, I think he’ll probably keep on travelling for another year or two. We have the same philosophy about living in the present and worrying about the future … sometime in the future.
13:20 – It’s a bit early to call it a day but if I do it should put me back on schedule to arrive in Burgos next Tuesday. The Albergue a la Sombra del Laurel is a perfectly charming little guesthouse but because it’s on the way out of town, it won’t do much business until the Camino traffic peaks in mid-summer. I’ll do some reading this afternoon, have an early dinner and a good night’s sleep in my very own zipper and cellophane-free room.
19:00 – I just had the best Pilgrim’s Dinner yet. For 10€ I got a mushroom pasta starter (dinner size), a 1/4 roasted chicken, French fries, side salad, homemade barbecue sauce, and ice cream cake doused in Irish whiskey. I ordered a glass of vino tinto and expected to pay as much for the wine as I did for the food, but the waitress brought a bottle of red, opened it, and said something that sounded like “Drink your face off.” When the bill came I learned that the bottle of wine was included with the 10€ dinner. You gotta love Spain!