Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 10: Tiebas To Ciraqui

Despite having eaten crap for dinner the night before I felt pretty good as we left Tiebas.  This would be our last day on the Aragones before we rejoined the Camino Frances (the Camino I walked in 2011).
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A view past a marker on the way out of town.
We passed through a town or two before arriving in Eunate.  Saint Mary of Eunate is a 12th century church that is often a side trip for those walking the Camino Frances.  The  octagonal church is impressive from the outside.  Unfortunately we were there on Monday, the one day that it is closed.  There is no town associated with the church but there is an albergue next to the church that was a favorite of many pilgrims.  Unfortunately it was closed earlier this year.  Hopefully someone will take the initiative and reopen the albergue.   We stopped and rested here.  I changed the rubber tips of my walking poles while I rested - I wore through almost three pairs of tips this Camino.
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12th century Church of Santa Maria de Eunate.
After Eunate the Aragones ends and joins the Camino Frances at the town of Obanos.  Joining the Frances was like merging onto a super highway from a country farm road.  The last nine days on the Aragones you could walk all day and not see another pilgrim until you reached an albergue.  On the Frances you were always within sight of other pilgrims.  It was a little disconcerting.

2013-09-16_Camino_005In 2011 there were a lot of pilgrims walking the Frances.  You were always within sight of other pilgrims.  This year, though, it was different.  The distance between pilgrims was shorter.  In 2011 183,504 pilgrims received a compostela (a completion certificate) in Santiago de Compostela.  2013 isn't over yet but, sometime in October, a Canadian became the 200,000th pilgrim this year to receive a compostella.  It felt much more crowded as we walked to the next big town of Puente La Reina.

In Puente la Reina we stopped at a grocery store to stock up on food and supplies and we had some lunch in a cafe.  This is one of the things that changed for me this Camino.  In 2011 I rarely stopped to eat while I was walking.  I would start walking and I wouldn't think about food, or stopping, until I arrived at my destination for the day.  This Camino I stopped a lot more, for breakfast and, sometimes, lunch before getting to our destination.  I blame this on Gv - She was often the reason we stopped -  but I have to admit that I soon looked forward to stopping and farther on I was often the reason we stopped.  I liked eating breakfast.

After Puente la Reina there is a hill that I'd been dreading all day.  It had been tough the 2011.  It was tough in 2013 too but, with all the hill climbing I'd done on the Aragones, it wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered.  On the way up some young guy tried to give Gv and I pointers on how to properly climb the steep path.  We both ignored the young pup.  It felt good when I reached the top of the hill and saw the young guy resting, and panting, in the shade.  I stopped briefly, took a deep breath, and walked on leaving the young whipper snapper panting in my dust.  The fact we got to the albergue before he did, and in better shape, was also satisfying.

We stopped in the town of Ciraqui.  I remember this town as being a tiny little town with steep streets but it turned out to be much bigger than I remembered.  That happened a lot this time along the Camino.  Places were mostly larger than I remember.  Some stretches were easier that I remembered ... others were harder.  Things were not in the same order that I remembered.  Others were right where I remembered.  Memory plays odd tricks.

Despite having stopped for a relatively long time in Puente La Reina, we ended up being the second and third to arrive at the one albergue in town.  The first person, a young man from Denmark, (Ek), had stopped early because of knee issues he was having.  Gv and I turned out to be fast walkers and the rest of the pilgrims we would encounter ... well, they were slower than I remembered.  Having said this the albergue was full by 3:30PM (about two hours after we'd arrived).

The albergue was a nice place.  The hospitalera was an artist and the albergue was decorated with her paintings and sculptures.  We ended up in a six person room with Ek, Nr, Mt, and another guy I don't remember.  Ek turned out to be quite the character.  He was young and thought himself wise and invincible.  He knew everything he needed to know about walking the Camino.  He expressed his wisdom loudly.  He was a nice kid ... but he was a bit obnoxious and over eager at times.

Ciraqui was in the middle of fiesta as well.  The small central square had a stage setup where either a DJ or a live band were playing music.  The square was full of old women singing and dancing.  The old men were all in a bar that overlooked the square.  We watched, and laughed with, the women line dancing to a Spanish version of Achy Breaky Heart.  They all appeared to be having an awesome time.
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Dancing in red and white - Fiesta time in Ciraqui.
We ate a meal prepared by our hospitalera.  She turned out to be a very nice lady.  When the albergue filled up she got on the phone with other albergues in the next time to see if there were beds to be had.  She must of liked us as well as she let us all know what was going on and how other people were rude (An Aussie and a Kiwi had reserved for dinner but had not shown up.  The hospitalera was mad because she had turned people away.)  She was very nice to us even preparing vegetarian options for Nr and Mt.  Delicious food as well.

After dinner we went back out to the fiesta and enjoyed the party.  I had my first churros (I know - should have tried them years ago.  They were okay.).  Two giant figures - King and Queen I would guess - were brought it and they joined the dance.  This would be the last fiesta we would see along the Camino.  Sadly, we would miss a few by a day or three.
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King and Queen - the giants of the Fiesta.
The party in Ciraqui continued until at least 4:00AM but I went to bed earlier than that with the help of earplugs.  This day felt pretty easy even if it felt a bit crowded.  I hoped the crowded feeling wouldn't last the remainder of my Camino.  Time would tell.

Pictures can be found in my Camino de Santiago 2013 Flickr set.

Total Distance on Day 10: 25 km ( 15.53 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 220 km (136.70 Miles)

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Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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