Today’s distance walked (from Navarrete): 7.4 km
Total distance: 182.3 km.
Elevation gain: 136 metres
Weather: Blue skies; warm
Highlight: Help from many strangers
Last night in Logrono I got lost. It is one of those events that becomes an “adventure” only when you look back at it from a safe place in the future, not at the time it is happening. It was after 9 PM when I realized I hadn’t a clue where I was and couldn’t make sense of the map. I was worried that I wouldn’t get back to the albergue by 10 PM when the doors close. I paid attention to landmarks when I left the albergue, but so many of the streets looked the same when I tried to retrace my steps.
I asked a man who was passing, “Donde esta el albergue municipal?” and showed him the map with the albergue circled. We walked up and down streets, but nothing looked familiar. The man then enlisted the help of a couple passing by, but they also looked uncertain about where the albergue was. Suddenly a light went on in the woman’s face, bringing me a glimmer of hope. When I eventually saw the ivy covered wall and the bell tower that can be seen from the patio at the albergue, I knew we had found it. What a relief!
“Muchos gracias!” and hugs and kisses were well deserved. (I love the European way of giving kisses on both cheeks! They are so much more meaningful than air kisses.) Thanks to the help of strangers I got back to the albergue before closing time.
By that hour the lights were out and the door closed to the dormitory and mostly everyone was asleep or nearly there. I had to feel around in the dark to get ready for bed and wasn’t sure how well I would sleep after that bit of excitement late in the evening, but I managed to have a good night.
I left the albergue at 7:30 PM this morning, too early for the Farmacia in Logrono to be open. Instead I caught the bus to Navarrete, 12.7 km away. The Farmacia there would open in twenty minutes so, with time to wait, I wandered up the street to the church.
On the way, a young pilgrim with a beautifully carved and decorated wooden hiking pole (he carved it himself) asked me if I had five minutes. Of course – twenty to be exact! I told him I was waiting for the Farmacia to open and why. Suddenly he was digging around in his backpack for his Compeed and a needle because he said I need to puncture the blister to ease the pain before applying Compeed. He couldn’t find a needle and his Compeed was too big for my little toe. But once again, here is an example of pilgrims offering to help other pilgrims.
Now back to why he asked if I had five minutes! The young man and his friend, both from Switzerland, are creating a video of the Camino for the friend’s father. His father loves the Camino and had walked it three times when he was able. Now the father is unable to walk because of his feet, so his son is creating a video of the Camino for him. A Spanish man who has walked all the way from Alicante and I were the featured pilgrims in the video. We were to “act” as pilgrims (not too far-fetched). Our part was to walk in front of the church as the young man sings.
After my acting stint, it was finally time to go to the Farmacia and get the Compeed. When I limped in, the young lady (pharmacist or assistant) knew just what I wanted and steered me to a huge supply of Compeed. (Whoever invented the stuff must be doing well!) She said it isn’t necessary to puncture the blister with a needle, although she gave me a needle and a small vial of antiseptic in case the blisters aren’t healed in three days. She showed me to a back room where I could apply the Compeed and gave me a selection of three kinds of antiseptic and a package of gauze. My foot looks better without the bulky, white dressings I had been using. Now I hope the blisters heal.
Finally at 9:30 I was ready for breakfast and then back on the Camino, walking ever so slowly through beautiful vineyards in Rioja from Navarrete to Ventosa, just 7.4 km away. It was the shortest day yet. There were very few pilgrims on the trail, since anyone who was staying in Navarrete would be long gone and anyone walking from Logrono wouldn’t be there yet.
I arrived at the highly recommended San Saturnino Albergue in Ventosa. Vania from Slovenia and Glen from the USA waited with me for the albergue to open at 1 PM. Of course the questions that inevitably get asked are: How is your Camino? Where did you start? Are you going to go the whole way to Santiago? Is this your first Camino? Glen’s response to the last question was “You are going to think I am crazy, but this is my eighth Camino!” He admits to being a Camino addict! I assured him that he’s NOT crazy!
This albergue is such a treat for only 11 Euros! There are 42 beds in six rooms. Unlike last night, there is a ladies-only shower with excellent water pressure and the water is hot. There is a kitchen that is so well stocked I almost feel like cooking. Almost! The laundry area is in a separate building a few steps up from the garden. I washed all my clothes along with those of Glen, one of my room mates, in one load.