Meeting Kevin, an Irish American from Chicago has given me the impulse to camp out for a few nights and save a little money (the story of my life).
Kevin has been walking for months and has crossed the Alps, camping all the way. He is the perfect person to kick my complacent arse out of the comfort zone of cosy albergues and into my tent!
The first night after Estrella we camped on top of a moutain next to an old castle.
I’d almost forgotten how wonderful it was to sleep out under the stars and it certainly liberates one to stop where and when one likes rather than following a crowd of peregrinos to the first available auberge. In the worst case scenario, a full auberge, camping can save one ending up in an expensive hotel.
Progressing along the Camino brings a natural fusion of folk into groups. Even for a solo individual, it is almost impossible to walk alone for long before merging into a little group. It is an easy process, for most folk are friendly and highly empathetic.
Today the rain has finally arrived, just as Kevin and I reached Viana, a small town on the border of Navarra and the Rioja (pronounced ‘Reeocca’) country. Tomorrow we shall hopefully make Logroño the largest town before Burgos.
Rioja is well known for its beautiful wine. Both Kevin and I have been gorging ourselves on succulent, juicy, deep purple grapes during our walking day! They are magnificent, better than anything I have ever tasted in the shops before. Unfortunately Rioja is also known as a walkers’ nightmare in the wet, as its distinctive red soil turns into sticky unconfrontable mess, caking one’s boots. Although the rain has bought some relief from the burning sun, I find myself hoping that my progress will continue in fair weather!
I am trying to go as slowly as possible, due to being homeless until the middle of November. This is quite a discipline for a strong walker such as myself. Having a very heavy pack helps to reduce my speed but it is interesting meeting peregrinos who are coming from behind. Occasionally I meet folk from earlier, but this is mainly because they have injured themselves by going too fast. New is good… but to see an old friend again is glorious!
There’s still a long way to go but as Bunyan wrote:
He who would valiant be, ‘gainst all disaster.
Let him in constancy, follow the master.
There’s no discouragement, shall make him once relent.
His first avowed intent, to be a pilgrim!’