Day 6: Estella to Los Arcos
I’ve just realised that my legs have gears. It’s not that I hadn’t used them before, just never realised they were there. Turns out my normal, long, moonwalking stride is my fifth gear, best used on flat roads winding through hayfields and vineyards. My first gear involves putting one foot barely in front of the other in quick succession. It’s a decidely stupid look but useful for powering up steep slopes. I even have a 3 wheel drive overdrive system for going down hills. This is when I use my walking stick to slow down my progress as I descend. So there you go, my legs have gears – these are the types of things you think deeply about whilst on the Camino.
This morning started as normal with bags rustling, muted swearing as people stub toes in unfamiliar rooms and the occasional glare of a wayward torch. Leaving Estella almost en masse at 5:45 I kept up quite a good pace. The early morning walk called for a relatively steep climb and descent but was actually quite a pleasant walk.
The walk took me by the Irache winery, where at 9:30am they turn on a wine spigot for pelegrinos to fill up their bottles. However this was Monday and they ain’t open Mondays so I moved on. I moved on as the grey brown soil started to turn into a much redder soil and vineyards began to dominate the landscape like out of control triffids.
Occassionally the green and red of a vineyard was broken up by the yellow of wheatfields and the occasional building sized bundle of haystacks. Coming into Los Arcos the view was fantastic, rolling hills, distant mountains with windmills, churches on hilltops, distant bells tolling and cloud covered flat mountains that reminded me of Cape Town.
On the way into town I passed a man in red, wearing a white hat and carrying a cane. At his feet a dog sat looking at him expectantly. He stared into the distance up a narrow incline. It looked like a painting, unfrozen but not yet brought to life.
Passing the Red Man in the Painting I entered the little town of Los Arcos at 9:45 am. Much earlier than expected as no cafes were open on the way meaning that I had to forgo my routine of cafe con leche. However this bodes well for tomorrow when I have to do a 28km day if I am to get to Santiago by month’s end. Although I doubt I can keep today’s pace, nor would want to, which is just over 5km/hr (compares to the approx. 4km/hr that would be the Camino average). After arriving I waited patiently with fellow pelegrino’s outside the delightful municipal hostel waiting for it to open. We chatted, snoozed and compared ailments. A good day’s walk. My blister isn’t too painful and I’ve bought a knee bandage/brace which is keeping my knee in good shape.
After a quick shower, clothes washing (reminder to self: white t-shirt not such a bright idea when trekking) leg and feet massaging I was ready for a short rest and then into town for lunch. On the way out I passed a poster for some crazy walk in Japan spanning some 1200km’s … 45 days….mmm I wonder 😉
That afternoon I sat in the plaza outside the centuries old ornate church and watched life go by. Funny thing is there is very little life during the day in these small towns and villages. The old man, dressed well in cap and cane, left handed tucked behind him wandering the small calle, the kid on bicycle, the old lady hanging out some washing, a few old men sitting together on park benched talking but most of the life in this plaza is from peregrino’s wandering the town after their afternoon siesta.