Agur Euskadi, Hola La Rioja
We left the Basque Country today with a heavy heart. As we crossed the Rio Ebro at Lapuebla Labarka, we said goodbye to many of the great people we met so far along this Camino. The Basque are a friendly, helpful, proud and curious people. We greatly enjoyed not only the hosts, hostesses, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, etc but also the people we passed in the street who would stop and chat. They don’t get many pilgrims up here and most are just learning about the Camino Ignaciano but I hope they get to know many more pilgrims soon.
Not only did we say goodbye to the people but we also said goodbye to the countryside. We left the mountains behind us and the next few weeks are on land as flat as Singapore. Today’s first several kilometres were in a foggy mist but an easy walk with small rolling hills that we were doing at least a respectable 5 km/h. We stopped for a sandwich and juice around 11:00am in Lapuebla Labarka and were served by a bartender who was a doppelgänger for Mike Thomas, one of the guys who runs the dive boat I work on.
After that stop, we also had some fruit at another shop and a quick stop in a pharmacy before why got on our way across the river. Food seemed to slow us down though because we were now moving at barely 4 km/h – about the same as rush hour in Jakarta.
It didn’t take long for us to see Navarette and you will see why in a moment. Before that, the only thing of note for the rest of the walk was an accidental turn up along a toll booth heading to the highway. We were supposed to be 20 meters to our right on a path on the other side of a fence below us. Some dis-embodied voice was calling to us in Spanish on a speaker, telling us to stop and go back to where we came. Obviously he could see us and hear us but he may well have been in a control booth in Madrid. He saved us from either climbing a fence or walking further out of our way.
Navarette is a small town on a mount that sticks up like a boil on the back of your hand. We remember it well as we stopped here three years ago while doing the Camino de Santiago. We are not staying in the municipal albergue as we did last time as we have grown a little spoiled since then. We are in a double room at the Albergue El Cantaro which is only 40€ or double what a bunk bed costs for the two of us in a common room.
Times have changed. Here is the description from my blogged notes of our stop three years ago:
“Navarette is an old village built on a round mound sticking up from the plain. Our short walking day meant that we are the first to check into the municipal albergue. It’s nice but otherwise forgettable. There also is no wi-fi in town. I now have small blisters on both feet but that is not stopping me. It’s just painful. Sadly, I also feel nauseous and I’m not sure why. A nap helps me but I’m not too thrilled that every other place in town closes for siesta. I guess if it’s good enough for me, it should be okay for others. For whatever reason, the walk today got me thinking of the trailside memorials that we have seen to pilgrims who have passed away while walking. There are quite a few of them and they make you think of your own mortality. It also makes me think of my Dad – “If I slow down, I’ll stop”.”
That posts makes me think of two things. The easy one is first. It appears that Navarette now has city-wide free wi-fi. That is what I am using right now. The second thing is my Dad. This Camino is very much dedicated to him. Tears are streaming down my face as a remember him. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam Dad. I’m trying.
That is Navarette on the hill to the right of me. My hat looks bigger than the town.
A look at tomorrow’s walk toward the massive bull statue and Longroño. We walked from there three years ago while doing the Camino de Santiago.
It’s good to see and chat with the other pilgrims we meet here who are heading to Santiago. We just exchanged promises for prayers with a Catholic priest from Korea who is celebrating his 10th year of taking his vows with this walk.
I can’t type more. If anyone is walking from Logroño tomorrow on the Camino de Santiago and you see two pilgrims walking the “wrong way”, please say hello. We are just heading for Manresa.
Peace and love y’all.