Navarra simmers under a boiling sun as the peregrinos (pilgrims) trudge wearily through dusty hills and vineyards, punctuated by tiny, sleepy villages. This is like the Spain I learned about many years ago… Not the ghastly tourist Mediterranean coastal resorts, but the authentic Iberian experience of Laurie Lee, George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway.
I reached Estella just before noon, a small, vibrant town between Pamplona and Logroño in Western Navarra. This is where I will say ‘adios’ to my young American friend Mel, as she is running on limited time and must take the bus to Leòn, in order to reach Santiago.
I shall miss her intelligent, unique zest for life, but as is so typical of the Camino, continue to experience the wild swings of emotion that inevitably come to pass.
One cannot doubt the rugged beauty of Northern Spain, but the Camino is really about people…A journey of the soul. We are all in it together, no matter how different we are. This is the thread, if you will. There are all nationalities here… All religions, creeds, and as many different reasons to walk the Camino as there are folk.
At present there seems no immediate end to the heat; however, when the rain sets in and the dust turns to mud, there could be an interesting slant on the downhill sections of the route and a very painful landing at the bottom!
I never cease to be amazed at how stoical some peregrinos are; bandages and knee supports are fairly standard, yet still they arrive at night, battered but dignified. Somehow, my luck has held out thus far, but I must remember my age, no matter how fit I am. One moment’s lack of concentration could be enough to turn a pleasure into an ordeal.
Tomorrow I strike out alone towards Logroño, but it won’t be long before someone new is walking alongside me… a soul on its own unique journey, and if not, then I hope that the spirits of the ages will watch over me…