The spirit of the Camino left us two days ago when we entered the suburbs of Logrono. One has to stay vigilant in a city such as Logrono and its suburbs. It isn’t exactly a peaceful place to be, especially when they are celebrating their wine harvest (San Mateo festival). There is no room for Camino magic. We didn’t even get it back on our walk to Navarette yesterday because of the hum of heavy traffic. Finally, today we got the Camino magic back.
This morning we walked a distance of 17.4 km from Navarette to Najera, thinking that might be where we would stay the night. After a satisfying lunch in Najera, our minds changed. Suddenly we had the energy to carry on walking an additional 5.8 km to Azofra for a total of 23.2 km.
It was a glorious walk through wide open spaces with stupendous views and no heavy traffic noise or other distractions. There were wonderful wide country tracks passing through remote and gently undulating farmland. Grapes, grapes, and more grapes! The grape harvest is beginning and at least one of the pickers was happy to pose for a picture.
We also came across a strange beehive shaped stone structure and checked it out. It is in this area where, in the late 8th century, Roland is alleged to have killed the giant Ferragut. Ferragut was supposedly a Syrian giant who was a descendant of Goliath (as in David and Goliath) who had been sent to Spain to fight Charlemagne’s Christian army. He is said to have had the strength of 40 men and feared no weapon.
Many of Charlemagne’s men were sent to fight the giant and were defeated every time. Finally Roland, one of Charlemagne’s knights, was able to approach the giant and fought him for two days using anything at his disposal including swords, sticks, bare fists and stones. Despite this Roland was unable to even wound the giant.
On the third day the two men called a truce and sat down to discuss religion. During this conversation, and following the drinking of copious amounts of wine, Ferragut let slip that his weakest point was his navel. The next morning the two men began fighting again and Roland, remembering what the giant had told him the day before, slayed Ferragut by piercing his navel with a spear.
Azofra, where we are now, is a tranquil village with a population of barely 500, a huge contrast to Logrono’s population of 145,000. There is one advantage, however, to visiting a city as large as Logrono: they have camera shops! We are still looking for a camera to replace our broken one. Our timing wasn’t good for buying a camera in Logrono, since all the stores were closed for the San Mateo celebrations. In the meantime, we are still managing with one camera.
We checked into the Municipal Albergue here in Azofra which has sixty beds in thirty little rooms for just 7 Euros each. Our pilgrim’s meal at a nearby restaurant was only 10 Euros each and included an entire bottle of very good local vino tinto from Rioja. The waiter was a magician who had the ability to be everywhere at once. We’ve never seen anyone juggle so many balls at one time. I wonder if he will accept our invitation to come home with us to be our “house boy.” Hmmmm…
We made our way back to our albergue after doing our best to empty that bottle of wine, and now here we are: raring to hit the trail again tomorrow after (hopefully) a good night’s sleep. Destination: Santo Domingo de Calzada, a mere 15.2 km away.
It feels good to have the Camino connection back again.
P.S. Watch this day’s video slideshow by copying and pasting this link into your browser: http://youtu.be/Fx1pAFm6Pvs