Friday, April 22, 2016
Distance: 17.4 km
9:46 – As I was preparing to leave, the owner of Albergue a la Sombra de Laurel asked for a selfie for her Facebook page. Her name may be Laurel. It’s quite clear that she likes blue. The sponge painting on the hotel walls and ceiling: blue. Wainscotting, stairs and bannister: blue. Bedding, curtains, and lampshades: blue. Shower curtain, towels, and liquid soap: blue. Toilet paper: blue.
11:21 – I walked for 90 minutes without passing a bar or cafe or feeling a drop of rain but the skies opened up just as I arrived in Ventosa. There are two bars in this little town and the competition has forced both places to upgrade their tapas. I have sampled the fare at the first place but the couple sitting beside me have been to both. We agree that the rather plain looking mashed potato / cream cheese fritters scored much better on taste and texture than presentation.
14:31 – The rain has stopped so I’m on my way. A sign on the edge of town indicates 11.5 km to Najera.
14:44 – I heard the unmistakable sound of the cuckoo bird quite often in Switzerland but each time it came from a souvenir shop. Some stores stock over 100 different cuckoo clocks. Here on the Camino the cuckoos are alive and I just heard one for the first time.
15:50 – As sure as death and taxes, mud follows rain. The mud on this section of the Camino is red clay. It sticks to boots and pant legs like applewood smoked bacon with blue cheese and fig tapas sticks to ribs.
15:54 – There’s a sign about 2km outside Najera that tells the story of the fight between Roldan and Ferragut which took place in Najera close to 1000 years ago. Near the sign stands a stone hut of no obvious significance. Inside the hut, pilgrims have scrawled messages on the individual stones. Some were quite well done.
16:30 – Najera is on the horizon. I’ll stay in a hostel if I have to but I could be persuaded to check into a decent hotel if I can find one that has a bathtub and hot water.
Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town,
There’s no need to be unhappy.
Young man, there’s a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough,
You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find,
Many ways to have a good time.
You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel…”
17:10 – The best hostel in town is fully booked but they suggest I try the Municipal Hostel which is just two blocks away.
17:20 – A sign at the door says: “pay what you can.” I slip 10€ into the donation box and have my Camino passport stamped by the volunteer at the desk. She’s about my age and wearing a Toronto Blue Jays cap. Anne is Fredericton, New Brunswick and after completing her two week volunteer commitment at the hostel, she and her sister plan to walk several sections of the Camino that they skipped due to bad weather on a previous visit.
They also have men’s and women’s bathrooms with 2 sinks, 2 toilets and 1 shower stall each. No bathtub, I’m afraid. And forget about a drain in the shower; that would be too much to ask. Instead, the water flows out to the area by the sinks where it disappears into a crack in the floor.