Day 16 of the Camino Wander – Rioja Wine, Interesting Conversations and Planning Ahead!

April 30th, 2018.  Najera to Cirueña, Spain.  Camino de Santiago

After a very cold night staying in a Russian Albergue, I left to find the Camino route blocked because of the festival. But taking a detour reminded me to stop and get some breakfast (!!) before setting out.

It was uphill out of the village from there (of course –  it was a good thing I’d had coffee…), past ancient caves that are now blocked to visitors, due to safety reasons. Then the trail descended into beautiful rolling hills of vineyards.

I am now in the Rioja region. A region which produces beautiful Spanish wine (I highly recommend it!)

I spent part of the day walking with new friends, brother and sister, Chong and Heejin. It’s amazing how friendships work on the Camino. Even though I met these guys yesterday, we are now comfortable to either walk together or separately, and have varied conversations that span from bathrooms to blisters, and career choices to corporate ethics.

I booked accommodation ahead for the next few days, while I was stopped.  This includes three nights in a hotel in Burgos. I need a break. Additionally, the Spanish holiday weekend with the local festivities, are making it challenging to find accommodations (especially when I’m wanting to spend two nights in a city, in a hotel no less).

Mentally I’m doing better. Good, deep conversations, balanced with quiet time do that for me. Sleep helps too.  I’m learning that about myself.  Even thought I stayed in an Albergue last night, I spent it in a private room.  I had a shared bathroom, but it was nice to have the quiet to myself.  Although, given how bloody cold it was in the Russian Albergue, maybe it wasn’t the best choice.  More bodies mean more body heat and that probably would have worked out for me last night.  As it was, I wore every piece of clothing I had, used both my sleep sack and down blanket and still left feeling sore from being curled up, trying to stay warm all night.  It’s really the only time I’ve been cold on the Camino.

Physically though, I’m still struggling with tired feet by the end of 18km. But everyone I speak to on the Camino right now seems to have that issue at this point. Some talk of shoe inserts, others are pushing on. Some are slowing, realising that rest days are important and need to be taken seriously.

I reached my Albergue at Cinuena, a place that is a mere dot on the map, and a place that is made up of new yet abandoned construction (thanks to the global financial crisis of 2008) and old farmhouses. This Albergue is run by a lovely woman, but it’s clear she has her preferences of pilgrims, offering the Spanish the ‘better’ beds.  As I lay with my feet elevated,  I spent some time conversing with some French women who spoke very little English and my high school French didn’t get me far either!  Hand signals went a long way. It was enough to have a seat offered to me at the communal table next to them, so they must have understood me enough.  (They really were lovely ladies in their 60s, walking part of the Camino together.). Ah, but that just adds to the adventure, right?!

One more day done and dusted.

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