Hey there folks,
I’m writing to you from the lovely city of Logrono which is approximately 160km from Saint Jean. What the hell, you might think. You only started walking Sunday! Been a doozy of a week so lemme tell you all about how I ended up so far down the Way in such a span of time.
Yesterday, I had planned to walk from Puente La Reina (a lovely village with a nice old bridge) to Villamayor approximately 30km down the road. It was a very nice day: Apollo had graced the Way with his pagan influence, the critters were alive and buzzing with joy, and I walked and talked with a number of people from all over the world. Jan (Czech), who quit his job as a sales manager to walk, Mary (Portland), who was making a Catholic pilgrimage, Jess (Phoenix), who had become disillusioned with university and wanted more from Life, and many others! For brief moments throughout the day, I schmoozed with a number of folks and learned their stories as we all walked onwards.
Yes, it was a nice day.
Yes, my soul was soaring throughout the day for it was good on all accounts. I saw the church spire of Villamayor long before I reached the town itself and thought how lovely it would be to stay in such a picturesque location. But by the time I reached Villamayor at approximately 2PM, I was faced with a rather disheartening, and daunting, bit of bad news.
Completo, that is, the albergue is full.
Well, shit, I thought to myself as I sat on the steps of the albergue, now what? The nearest town, Los Arcos, was another 12km away and would take me approximately 3 hours to walk. 12km? Fuck. I had already walked 30 today!
The hospitalero running the joint suggested I walk 2km over the hill to a small village not on the Camino to catch the local bus. He understood that the late hour (2PM is late on Camino) lessened my chances of finding a place in the next town; add three hours to that and my chances dwindle further. However, Fate hadn’t quite finished with me yet.
A group of Italians were debating the merits of staying at the albergue in Villamayor because three of them would be forced to sleep on the floor; twas the only way to keep the group together. After much debate in typical Italian fashion (that is, absurdly loud and heated), the group, save two, decided to take a taxi to Los Arcos and reunite with their comrades the following day. Yes! I cheered internally. I had a bed! Of the two beds the Italians had vacated, one of them was mine.
But then my upbringing came into play.
Two elderly German women trundled up the hill towards the albergue, two veritable Fraus tramping along in heavy boots and heavier packs, looking the worse for wear and more tired than sin. Oh how crestfallen they looked when they saw the Completo sign. No, I thought, I cannot take this bed.
In very poor and broken German, I spoke to the ladies about what had just transpired and how only one bed remained; so I gave them my bed. I couldn’t rightfully sleep in that bed knowing it would be because of me that two elderly women had to walk an additional 12km to the next town. No, that would not be right. After the disappointment, then the elation, then the realization hit me, I put on my pack and made for Los Arcos. I would not be staying in Villamayor this Camino after all.
12 kilometers. Jolly good. I had spent perhaps half an hour at Villamayor resting and waiting for the Italians so I was quite refreshed. The sun was high, the sky was blue, and the wheat was a very crisp green. At least the walk would be beautiful. Along the way I shacked up with a fellow American and his small cadre of comrades who had also been met with the dread Completo; they hoped Los Arcos would be their salvation. That’s Camino.
And so I trudged onward to Los Arcos, only to be denied a bed three more times, before finally finding a joint just in time for dinner. It was a long day – approximately 45km (27 miles American) – but it was a perfect example of how the Camino goes. You have your highs and your lows. But at least you can sleep at night knowing you did the right thing.
Yeah, it was a nice day after all.