Friday, May 9, 2008

De Los Arcos

The following photos were taken on Friday 9 May 2008, the day covered in this blog post. They follow the order of the blog, mostly chronological order.
85. Leaving Estella for Irache in the dull early morning light 86. Three Brazilian pilgrims at the Pilgrim wine fountain at Irache. Alex from San Paolo in the foreground is tempted to exchange his water for wine but shows remarkable restraint. The hour perhaps helps--it is 8 am.
87. The parish church at Irache
88. Heading out of Irache
89. The muddy track en route to Azqueta. It was to get much worse.
90. The view from the Camino a little further on
91. Approaching Azqueta
92. Entering Azqueta
93. Inglesia de San Pedro 94. Approaching Villamayor de Monjardin. The ruins of St Stephen's Castle can be seen on the top of the hill overlooking VdM
95. Villamayor de Monjardin
96. The church in Villamayor de Monjardin
97. Seeking shelter in wet and windy conditions on the way to Los Arcos
98. A view from the Way
99. Another view on the way into Los Arcos
100. The C12 Inglesia de Santa Maria de los Arcos
101. The church's cloister
102. Inglesia de Santa Maria de los Arcos
103. The conclusion of the Pilgrim Blessing in the church at Los Arcos
104. The altar piece in the church at Los Arcos


Today I walked from Estella to Los Arcos, a distance of 22 kms. The path went through the heights of Villamajor de Monjardin (650 km), mostly through ultra green fields of grain. It was another soft day--a slow drizzle that got stronger but never heavy. It was good to have the rain jacket and pants. It is incredibly peaceful and calm. Too much so at times that I need to watch carefully for the painted yellow arrows. At one stage today, I thought I heard my name being called and indeed it was, by three young women in chorus 300m behind me, to tell me that I was taking the wrong way. How grateful I was. The Camino is long enough as it is (over 800 kms from St Jean with my voluntary detours to Eunate etc).

Tonight I´m staying in Albergue La Fuente, a private albergue run by a group of Austrians. I´m not sure if they are volunteers or not. I´ll enquire. There is a good spirit among them and it's a lovely place. The word on the Camino, confirmed by Anne who has been looking at posts on Pilgrim Forums, is that there is great pressure on the albergues. It´s my 9th night in one and every one is a bonus. I just took the first I could get today (the rain was getting heavier) and it´s great. An Englishman with a caravan 4 kms out of Los Arcos was offering coffee and cake for a donatavio. He told us that we were getting into Las Arcos late (news to some of my fellow pilgrims there since it was only 1 pm) and that 100 people had already been past him, the first shortly after he had set up at 7 am (this fellow was coming only from Villamajor). He told us that the municipal albergue would be full already. We had to be out of our albergue in Estella this morning between 4 and 7.15 am!!

There will be a time when I do not find accommodation in an albergue but that is something I´ll deal with, probably by staying at a hotel or hostal. I do not want to get into a race for a bed--it is against what I see as the spirit of the Camino. In a very limited sense, it gives you a feeling for those who have no home, especially in rainy nights. Expose yourself to feel what wretches feel, said Lear, to show the heavens more just. My situation now, far removed, is probably the closest I´ll get to that felt daily by homeless people.

Today´s highlights?

The fuente del vino at Irache offers pilgrims free red wine from a fountain. Had it not been 8 am and cool, I might have been tempted to take more, perhaps a bottle full. There are as always beautiful churches on the way but almost invariably closed. I met a male pilgrim from Hailifax in Yorkshire today walking in the opposite direction who had started in Finisterre to the west of Santiago de Compostella. He was on his way to Venice. On foot!!


Companions are always a highlight of the Camino. Last night I had a great dinner with the Irish 5 who left for home this morning. I miss them since they were funny, welcoming, big-hearted people. Poor Laura, who was to have walked to Loa Arcos today, fell ill during the night and was unable to walk. She will made her way back to Bilbao by bus and home by Ryanair tomorrow.

But as soon as one chapter closes, another begins. Today I met three Australians--Marie from
Summer Hill, Romeo from central Sydney and a third in this albergue [there were three others in the albergue, Serano from Byron Bay, Marie's brother Mick and his friend Chris from Brisbane]. Don´t know his name yet. Alexandrse from San Pâolo and Jana from Berlin are also here in the albergue. Young folk from Orisson. Marie was walking with two other young women, Lindsay from Colorado and Gert from Belgium. They were the chorus of three who rescued me from an even longer Camino. They are also in this albergue. Marie´s brother is also on the Camino. They are grand folk (I'm slipping again into Irish). And some folk from Casa Paderborn in Pamplona are also here tonight.


Tomorrow is a longer section, if I proceed as I hope to, to Logroño. Almost 28 kms. It´s day 9 of walking and a longer section than any other. I´ll take it easy. Like many (most) others, I´m carrying some foot discomfort, in my case from the drained blister, and soft tissue pain on the right hip and shoulders. Nothing major. Part of the Camino. I used the Voltaren today for the first time and will do so more regularly from now on. I´m not used to this muscle inflammation. Exercise at last, at age 60!


Ultreya. A Logroño (or Viana at least).

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