Logroño – Najera

Crosses on motorway fence

Crosses on motorway fence

I was glad that I carried the shoes I found at Roncesvalles. The previous evening with the boots being so wet, I was able to leave the albergue with them – impossible otherwise as my walking boots were soaking and stuffed with paper. This morning they were still wet but not saturated. Everyone had the same problem. I had laid out my clean dry sock on the bed ready for the day’s walking. When I returned from the bathroom, I couldn’t find them. Was I victim of theft? I never found the socks but consoled myself that at least one pilgrim would have dry feet as they set off. Theft is not a big problem on the Camino but it does exist. After all, the Camino is just like life.

Scallop marking the Camino de Santiago

Scallop marking the Camino de Santiago

Reflecting on yesterdays’s torrential rain in Logrono, I thought of ways to improve my poncho. The design was good but there were several ways to improve its design. I would make some notes. Maybe I would design and make my own?

The morning was still cloudy but thankfully it was not raining. The Way passed through a large public parkland reserve and near to a lake, the Pantano la Grajera. It was a large wildfowl reserve and a peaceful place. As the Way left the lake it climbed to follow the motorway with traffic noisily thundering along. Not so peaceful. What was interesting was that the fence between the Way and the motorway was covered with wooden crosses that pilgrims had woven into it. There there hundreds of them covering several kilometres. It was a stark boundary between the medieval world and the modern world. Symbolically the crosses seemed to warn of the modern world and the crosses protected and separated the pilgrims from it.

Advert for a restaurant in Navarrete

Advert for a restaurant in Navarrete

Wall detail at the Santa Maria de Jesus church near Navarrete

Wall detail at the Santa Maria de Jesus church near Navarrete

12th Century Roman arch near Navarrete

12th Century Roman arch near Navarrete

The village of Navarrete was 12 kilometres from Logrono. It was deserted as I approached. There were two streets dividing at a ‘Y-junction’. Not sure which path to take I paused at the junction for a moment. A man suddenly appeared from a small door. Across the street a window opened. Both people pointed me in the right direction and disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. It was like that on the Camino. There was no need for maps as the locals always pointed you in the right direction without asking.

Just after the village was the 12th century church of Santa Maria de Jesus and it’s Roman arch leading to the cemetery. I set up the gas stove for a lunch of soup and bread with cheese and coffee. It was amazing how much I enjoyed such simple lunches. The simplicity of life on the Camino was so rewarding. After lunch the flat land continued and was covered in rioja vines. The weather had not improved.

Stork nest on the church in Najera

Stork nest on the church in Najera

The goal for the evening was Najera and it was not long before I entered it’s outskirts. It was easy to find the small and modern albergue municipal near the River Najerilla, not far from the old town. There were many familiar faces and lots of cyclists. It was common in Spain to undertake the Camino by bicycle. The friendly host at the albergue signed me in while mentioning that bottles of Rioja were available for €1.50 a bottle. They were supplied by a friend of his from a vineyard nearby. Earlier, inside a bar in the town was a tiled notice on the wall …

El camello es el animal que mas aguanta sin beber
Beba ud. y no sea camello.

(The camel is an animal that holds water without drinking
Drink and don’t be a camel)

I went to purchase some food for the evening meal and stopped in a cafe for drink at a table in the ancient square. The sun was warm and the light was fantastic as the sunset approached. Swallows shrieked and whirled around the church spire.

After dinner, and with the flowing Rioja on sale at the albergue, everyone enjoyed the rest of the evening. There was a lot of snoring in the dormitory that night!

Cycles at the albergue in Najera

Cycles at the albergue in Najera

TIP: Though it is generally safe on the Camino, take care with your belongings. For some reason socks seem to disappear. I met many pilgrims who had reported vanishing socks. Or is it just a mystery of the universe similar to loosing socks in a washing machine?

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