Each morning there’s a guessing game. How far will I go today? Usually, I pick a preposterous option with the notion that (i) I really do need to keep moving, (ii) if I set out to go really far, I’ll probably end up going farther than I otherwise might, and (iii) it’s kind of fun to tell people and observe their reaction: some think you an utter, ignorant fool while others are thoroughly impressed.
On this day, I decided I would walk to Najera, 38km from Viana.
I had a good start: morning coffee in Logrono — an impressive city of regional importance – in an intimate plaza across from the district assembly hall. As I sat aware of where my rucksack was sitting and how many days I had worn one of my two shirts, I watched suited politicians stride in and out, back and forth. I had almost forgotten Spanish people worked.
This is Rioja, the famous wine region, and the Camino passes through dramatic vineyards that were not bearing fruit but were being tended by the stray old couple or pick up truck twenty-somethings always eager to offer a “buen camino.”
The way in to Navarette was under construction. There was a detour. Industrial buildings. Jack hammers. Dust. I was having none of it. Could not get out of town fast enough.
On the way out, the detour took me by the albergue. Outside the bar was Lise, and the Aussie, Brit, and German from the first day. Also, a line of rucksacks rounding the building reserving space for when the albergue would open at noon. It was 11 now.
If I kept going, I would risk another night outside the albergue. If I stayed, I would fall behind schedule and have to stay in this village of which I was none to fond.
Once again, my decision would be made over a cerveza.
The Aussie was in bad shape physically. This day she’d walked only from one village and the Brit and German were discussing dinner plans.
This night I would stay.
Despite my stopping so early in the day, I was one of the last in line, awarded a bed in the attack with the Frenchman who was carrying a guitar around with him.
The rest of the day was whiled away in the Bar (which is perhaps more like a pub or cafe than what many Americans might at first think).
The German fixed a very nice omelette. The Frenchman played his guitar. The 80 year old who had recently had knee surgery talked about her doctor’s orders. The Aussie would rest a day.
And I’d make an epic journey the next.