Camino Day 8: Illuminating Ava Maria

Los Arcos to Logroño: 27.8 km/17.4 miles

May 12, 2016

The aching in my legs along with the stirring of bunkmates were the root causes of an early rousing. Decision made to pack up and head out with the main herd. Coffee and tortilla taken at the sole shop opened at this ungodly hour. The tortilla looked more like a quiche than it’s name, but was yummy and filling.

Lingering until most Peregrinos (Pilgrims) departed, I then got underway. My preference to commence my day solo was recognized. Focus, set daily intention and silence. Ideally every day should be started this way, whether or not on the Camino. The Lebanese poet, Kahil Gibran wrote, “Your daily life is your temple and religion.”

Later, on this overcast day, I linked up briefly with a Canadian couple who had over the years hiked several of the Camino routes. They had their walking down to a science. They used maps and planned shortcuts diverting along the roads and highways when possible to shorten their steps. The Camino at present crisscrossed the road frequently. This sort of navigation seemed stiff and unspontaneous to me. We parted shortly after, as they remained on the road at the next crossing.

Today was the first time where my 'emergency' poncho was needed. The rain was a revitalizing drizzle and made for a day without sweat. My legs ached, but I remained grateful that my soles epidermis remained intact. Some Peregrinos suffered greatly from deeper, most likely infected foot wounds.

A stop was made in the town of Viana to eat my packed lunch outside the Iglesias de Santa Maria. Afterwards, I entered the darken church. A machine with a coin slot allowed one to view the church lit up, an ingenious means of covering the electric bill. Ava Maria played during the illumination. A beautiful and serene moment elapsed in this damp, cold ambience.

Viana was my planned stop for the day, but I had received an email at the last coffee stop with wifi service, that my traveling companion may arrive as early as tonight in Logrono. That thought alone lightened and quickened my steps to the next town. An absorbing conversation with an older French man during the last hour walked, held my interest and thus passed the clicks more speedily.

I landed in a wine bar, the first place offering Wi-fi upon arriving in Logrono, to check my friend’s arrival status. Elated to take cover from the now heavier downfall and to rest my legs, I entered. Despite my desperate looks I was thankfully served.

The latest travel update was that his transit was delayed in Barcelona and arrival wouldn’t be until tomorrow. Saddened, I sat back and at least, enjoyed the nectar of the Rioja region while trying to figure out my next move. In addition, I sinfully had removed my shoes and had no desire to put them back on at present.

Since I had not yet experienced a Municipal hostel I figured tonight was as good as any, and its geographic proximity to the wine bar was very favorable. These hostels are usually bigger and hold more pilgrims per chamber. I was a later arrival, but landed a bed in a room with a minimum of 30 bunk beds, therefore meaning 60 people in the room. There were two empty beds next to mine, which were filled moments later with two previously met Californian wine connoisseurs. They had planned a visit to a local winery in Logrono and I was invited along. Somehow it felt a bit out of place to be participating in all this wine tasting today, and doing a pilgrimage, but I agreed.

I was exhausted on return to the hostel, but realized I had no clean clothes. A washer was available, thus I took advantage of the services. While waiting for the machines, I started up a conversation with a Polish guy who grumbled and mumbled, and later opined that Germans lived too long. He held a job taking care of the elderly in Germany. When the facts were later checked, there was only a 4-year difference in the two countries life expectancies.

Tomorrow was going to be a rest day. I would linger in Logrono to await the arrival of my long-time traveling mate. Hallelujah on both these accounts.

#CaminodeSantiago #walking #trekking #spain #spirituality #peace

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