Saturday, May 19th … Sunny and warm … 30 kms … 19 miles*
*Some of you might be wondering why most guidebooks say this stage is 27kms, 17 miles. That is the distance just following the path. We include the elevation adjustment. This is the actual distance traveled. And usually by the time you get to your resting place, you probably have added a mile or half a mile more.
This will be our longest day so far! This will also be our last day in Navarre. Today we are walking into Rioja. Today will consist of steep uphill and downhill, vineyards and farmland. We are slowly making our way into the Meseta.
The Camino is divided into three parts for your personal growth. There are three regions of the Camino and which speak to the three parts of your growth. We have the physical, the mental and the spiritual.
The Physical is the beginning… this portion consists of rugged, exposed mountains; steep, wooded hills, and fertile river valleys and lowlands extending from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Burgos. This is a landscape that tests and conditions the body in equal measure.
The Mental is the middle portion…this section is between the cities of Burgos and Leon. Between them lies the vast, treeless expanse of the Meseta. This central region encompasses the most uninhabited stretch of the Camino and thus provides an abundance of space and solitude. On the Meseta one battles not only long distances between villages but also loneliness, boredom, uncertainty and the hundreds of other emotions that inhabit the human psyche.
The Spiritual is the last part. This section starts as you leave Leon and return to the world of mountains and forests. Galicia beckons with its misty, Celtic world of chestnut woods and stone walls. Your body understands what you are doing now, and you descend from the head into the heart. We have broken ourselves down, we have emptied our minds and we have created space within us. Now is the time to be fully aware. Aware of the surrounding beauty without all the distractions. Enjoy this time. Listen as you walk. Listen to your heart. Source: follow the camino
Morning Time …
“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask” ~ Jeff Johnson
Morning time has started to be our favorite time. Everyone is refreshed and ready to go. Your feet don’t hurt…yet, and the morning air is refreshing.
As we walked through more wheat fields, the young people behind me started singing a song in Spanish. Walking just in front of them, I let my mind wander into a meditation. Such peace coming from the music. The air was crisp and clean and the morning sun was waking up the beauty around us. Still cool enough to wear a jacket but today would be my first day in shorts. My legs were a little chilly but I knew it was going to be a warm day.
As the day wore on, that sun did its job. It got hotter. We tried to take as many breaks as we could. Sometimes it was hard to find a resting place so a shady spot under a tree would do. Today the towns were fewer. We started to realize how nice it was to always have a snack with us. Water, of course, but we began packing Snickers, bananas and nuts as well. Sometimes we would have a little grocery bag hanging from our backpacks.
We were rewarded with another little oasis today. Thank you, Jesus! We needed it.
The long hot day ..
Today turned into a mental day for all of us. A little less talking. Minh and Sue had dropped back due to Minh’s blisters. They said they would meet us in town. We moved forward.
After lunch and more walking, we realized it was becoming later than our usual timing. We were moving a little slower today, not because of the group…it was the heat. Walking with a group, doesn’t necessarily mean you are always together. Sometimes you might be by yourself, other times it might be just you and another and then times when we are all together. Again, we made a good team and respected each other. There were times when I could be walking side by side with someone and we wouldn’t speak for miles. We were honoring each other’s private moments. We were being pilgrims.
Finding a Room
As we were walking, and realizing it was later than usual, we decided we might want to find a room. It was already 2:30 …the time we would normally arrive at our hostel. The plan was to walk two more hours, because we wanted to get to Logrono, a large city on our path. And because it was a Saturday night, it might be challenging to find a room.
So, Luca grabbed our paper from St. Jean, which listed the hostels and started calling them. Now, we had a group of eight. The six of us and the two pilgrims behind us. Luca began calling…one after another…they had no beds. The area was all booked. So, it wasn’t even our large group that was making it difficult. We weren’t sure what to do, but we kept walking.
I then shared a bit of information I knew from my Camino experience. I said, “If we can’t find a room we have to go to the church. They’ll help us find a room or give us a place to sleep.”
With that in our back pocket, Luca kept calling. Being with someone who spoke Spanish was a huge benefit. And this waiting for him to find us a hostel certainly took our minds off how much our bodies were hurting. My feet were on fire! I just wanted to sit down. We had been on the outskirts for at least 30 minutes we should be getting into the old part of town soon.
As we crossed the bridge, we all realized we would have to go to the church. We had called all the hostels and all the hotels. No rooms available!
I will never forget the relief and hope I had when we arrived at the church!!
We had to go to the side entrance. There was a little bitty sign next to the door saying that it was an Albergue for pilgrims.
We knocked and waited. When the heavy wood door opened, I was so excited. The gentleman asked how many beds were needed. We took a deep breath and said eight? He looked at us and said, “I am not sure if we have that many…wait here” and he shut the door. As he was speaking, I held my hands out in prayer. Please! I know we looked desperate. Maybe that will help our cause. It was now four in the afternoon.
We waited patiently and then he opened the door and said we might be able to make it work but some might have to sleep on the floor. At this point, we did not care at all. And then we heard the best words… “He said please come inside and wait.”
With a deep sigh of relief, we were able to sit down. Whew! We had told them about Minh and Sue and made a point to say they were injured. In fact, Minh had blisters and Sue had a hurt leg. They were definitely injured and moving slowly.
Even though we were in the door, we still just wanted to see our beds. To know for sure.
Then the best news arrived! They had six beds and two mats on the floor. Poor Minh and Sue, we gave them the mats. But I think they were just happy to have a spot after their long day. We were the last beds taken and they saved the last two for them when they arrived.
We proceeded to follow them up three flights of stairs to the bunk rooms. One room had four beds. That was good. Then they took Cale and I down the hall to a private room with two beds. What? A private room. This is amazing! I was so excited but then when I went to see our friends, we realized there was a German couple whom we had gotten to know over the past few days and they were in the room with the young people. I asked Cale if he minded giving the private room to them. And my good son said of course not. They need it.
When we offered it to the couple, they were so excited. So, we exchanged beds and we moved in with our group. Now more good news!
Our Hostel was a Donativo hostel, which means you pay what you can!
This included dinner and breakfast! And prayer service in the Church after dinner.
God is so good! This was amazing! After such a long hard day and then to be gifted with such a wonderful prayerful resting place! Wow! Also, we were with so many of our pilgrim friends whom we had met over the days, our German couple friends (I can’t remember their names) Nithyaa from US, Sean from New Zealand and Andrea from Italy.
They informed us what time dinner was and that we still had time to attend Mass if we chose to. That’s all they had to say to me. I showered quickly and walked to Mass.
Mass, Dinner and Prayer Service
I just remember sitting in the church in awe! Awe of God! The beauty of the church, the beauty of the hostel and what it offers pilgrims. The beauty of the world. The beauty of people!
Wait, is this walk opening my heart to trust again. Is this walk showing me that kindness is still out there? Is this walk taking the pain and placing hope and love in my heart? This walk is amazing. God is amazing. I want to scream and share this love with everyone again. I want to smile. I want to love. My hope is for everyone to experience the love and healing that happens along this Camino.
Thank you, Jesus! This has become my mantra on this Camino.
After Mass, we headed back up for dinner. Not knowing what to expect, we walked in the dining room a little apprehensive. Maybe expecting a little dinner, nothing big. Not sure. First, they explained that they cooked the meal and will serve us, but we need to come together as a community and clean up afterwards.
No problem, now what’s for dinner?
Boy, were we surprised! … Paella! Two huge pots of Paella! Along with bread, salad, water and of course vino.
We sat at a table with all of our pilgrim friends and we started by singing a prayer.
What a feast! What an experience. Again, a Camino experience I will never forget!
After dinner and before clean-up they invited us to prayer time. We followed them back into the church. They took us through old walkways and then down some stairs. We were walking through very old tunnels that connected the church and the rectory. When we arrived at the church, we were in the old choir box and also the pews where the monks would sit to pray and chant their prayers.
They asked us to take a seat, then asked us to get a prayer sheet off the table. These prayer sheets were printed in all different languages.
We started at the beginning where each language represented was to pray a section in that language. In those moments, we were truly a religious community… to hear the prayer in German, Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese…we were a community of many languages, and a community of faith. I was so overwhelmed; the tears of joy were streaming down my face!
Thank you, Jesus!
As soon as prayer was over, we returned to the kitchen to clean up! Once again, to see how everyone worked together, how everyone cleared the dining room and then took turns washing and drying the dishes…. a kitchen clean up community! We even started a massage line. Whoever was washing was receiving a massage, then the person behind the washer was getting a massage…you get the picture. It made it fun and the time passed quickly. We were singing and just having a blast.
But now time to unwind and get to sleep, Buen Camino!
Saturday, May 19th. Los Arcos to Logrono.. 30 kms 19 miles
“What is broken can be mended. What hurts can be healed. And no matter how hard it gets; the sun will rise again.” ~Unknown
Today was a long hot day! By the time we got to Logrono, we were tired. We had a nice surprise in Logrono. There were no rooms available so we went to the church. We asked for a bed they said maybe. We waited and then received a bed, dinner and breakfast all for a donativo!
Mass was amazing. As I sat in the pew, I sat in awe. Awe of the beauty all around me. After communion, as I was praying, I felt the presence of all the other pilgrims who walked before, all the other pilgrims who sat there before me. It was powerful, the tears were flowing!