Day 8: Logrono to Najera
“That’s a Peregrino. He’s going to Santiago, far, far away”, I heard a father explain to his young son as I entered into town. We’re a strange lot when we enter towns. With a shuffling gait, a limp and the ever so slight favouring of a particular leg we look like nothing so much as soldiers returning from battle. We limp in proud, we know we’ve done hard yards to get this far. We hide our winces and only occassionaly let a grimace or grunt of pain show through. We walk tall and know that we stand out from everyone else. People know who we are and what we do. We carry a stick and a shell. We follow yellow arrows. We walk.
This morning’s walk started with the rubbing of ointment into thighs, strapping knees, plastering toes, stretching – like sportsmen preparing for a big game we peregrinos prepped for our big 29km hike. Like professional sportsmen we all had our fair share of injuries but the walk must go on so we applied mental pain killers and strode out into the cold, dark graffiteed streets of Logrono.
The moon was high as I walked out of town finding myself after an hour or so walking through a wildlife sanctuary. Birds twitted and soared through the air as they are prone to do early in the morning. Ducks quacked and swam under the bridge I strode over and later, just around the bend, I saw rabbits bounding playfully ahead of me.
From there the walk became a bit of a grind. I wasn’t in the groove but I put my head down and walked anyway, that’s part and parcel of the Camino. Walking alongside the freeway was dull after days of vineyards and soaring peaks. I stopped around 10km’s short of my destination for my second breakfast of the day. This time chorizo and baguette instead of pastry and cafe con leche.
From there I put on some tunes and rediscovered that simple fact of life that a good song can appreciably alter your mood. I wasn’t down, just grinding it out but within moments of hearing U2’s “it’s a beautiful day” I found myself in a world of beauty. The sky bright blue, the soil blood red the vines bright green with bunches of grapes yet to ripen. I almost danced up the hill I was walking up as the combination of song and scenery induced in me a euphoria of pleasure.
I walked up a hill and along the fence of crosses. It’s moments like these that I am reminded of how many still do this trip primarily for religious reasons. Thousands of people had made crosses out of assorted materials and inserted them into the fence along the path. Juxtaposition this against the big black bull made of wood and steel that appeared anchored to a hill to the left.
The route then began to climb, up, up, up and past a quirky row of cairns set up by fellow peregrinos. I added a cairn and headed on into Najera. A horrible, winding walk through industrial sectors that no music could make more pleasant and then, finally, I was at my destination. The pleasant riverside town of Najera.