Greetings from Logroño. It´s been a week already that I´ve been on the camino and I decided I would take a day off a couple of days ago. The hike has been a lot more physically demanding than I had expected. I don´t see how anyone can do the whole hike without taking a couple of days off, unless you´re in ridiculously good shape. Everyone seems to be a bit banged up and my feet have been screaming at me for days, so they´re enjoying the day off. Much deserved for them. Logroño is a big city and I got a hotel room with a couple of British guys, Dave and Ernie (Bert and Ernie) who are an absolute riot. They are 62 and 64 years old and can drink me under the table and blaze past me on the trail. It´s amazing. We walked around town today and took care of laundry and I got a sweet haircut.
Now that I´ve been at it for a week, I have a much better idea of what to expect each day. The first few days we were all new to this and it was very challenging as we descended from the Pyrenees under constant rain and sloshed through countless mud puddles. We would walk in groups throughout the day, trading stories and meeting everyone. Starting around the third day people began walking alone more, including myself. I imagine this is how it will be from here on out. Most people are on the Camino to reflect on their lives, to figure some things out, more than just for the physical activity (although that is definitely included). It´s a very common site to see a pilgrim ahead of you, trodding at their own pace, head slightly lowered, lost in thought. The Camino kind of makes you do that.
I´ve walked through countless tiny villages which exist primarily because of the peregrinos (pilgrims) coming through. There´s generally one church in the middle of town, a cafe and a restaurant and that´s about it. You get the sense that they haven´t changed much in the past few hundred years. I´ll usually stop for lunch in one of these places and buy a bocadillo (sandwich) which is a huge piece of bread with either jamon (ham) or tortillas, which are potatoes and eggs. Delicious. Then you leave town and within minutes you´re in the country side again, amid wheat fields that never end. Everything is green this time of year and it´s absolutely beautiful walking through this part of the country.
In the evenings we go to a restaurant that offers a pilgrim´s menu for around 9 Euro. You get a big starter like spaghetti or Spanish rice, a main course of pork or fish, some ice cream and unlimited red wine. Yes, it´s dangerous. I´ve been good about only having one glass or so, but there have been a couple of nights, including last night that everyone just started putting it back. And the waiter began bringing us some shots of something flourescent green that had a very herby taste to it. All I know is I´m glad I wasn´t walking today. I don´t know how the other peregrinos managed.
I´ve got a long hike ahead of me tomorrow as I make my way to Najera. Let´s hope we have some good weather. It´s been sunny these past few days and it makes the hike so much more pleasant.