Friday, November 29, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 11: Ciraqui To Villamayor De Monjardín

We got up pretty early this morning when everyone started making noise outside our room.  I got my stuff together and went into the foyer of the albergue.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone who looked familiar.  It turned out to be Kt, a pilgrim I'd met in Omaha during some of my training hikes.  She had attended some of the Backwoods Camino Conversations.  I'd wondered if I would run into her somewhere on the Camino.  I said hi and asked how her Camino was going.  She was doing fine.  I wouldn't see her again until I neared the end of my Camino.

We stopped for breakfast in the next town of Lorca.  The weather was turning a bit drizzly this morning and it was nice to get out of the wet.

The next big town was Estella.  We ran into Ju here.  She had a harrowing story.  She'd walked a long day and had tried to stop at the town before Cirauqui (Mañeru).  That albergue turned out to be full.  She walked the five kilometers to Cirauqui just to find that albergue full as well.  Five more kilometers got her to Lorca where she'd gotten a bed (The Cirauqui hospitalera had called ahead and reserved a bed for her).  Her already long day had become a 35 - 40 kilometer day.  I can't imagine how demoralizing it must have been when you walk the extra five kilometers just to find that place full as well.

The Irache monastery.
After a sandwich in Ayegui, just outside of Estella, we walked past the wine fountain at Irache.  Last time I stopped to marvel at the spigot of free wine for the pilgrims.  Today I walked by with just a glance.  There were a few things like that this Camino.  Been there, seen it, done that.  

On the way to Villamayor de Monjardín.
We arrived at our destination for the day, Villamayor de Monjardín, and decided to stop at the newer of the two albergues in town.  It turned out that the older crowd stopped at the newer one and the younger crowd went to the older one.  Gv and I were almost the youngest people in our albergue.  There was a definite skew to the older crowd on this part of the Camino.  Later on there would be a better mix of age groups I think.

The albergue started to fill up fast.  In our room on the third floor we ran into a French man.  I have meet many french people on the Camino.  All of them have been very nice people.  I liked every one ... until I met this man.  He spoke mostly to Gv since she spoke French but it turned out he was mostly complaining about how crowded it was and I believe he mentioned something about how all the Americans, or at least the English speakers, were ruining the Camino.  He did this while lying on his bed in his underwear.  I wrote him off pretty quickly but I have to admit he was on to something.  There were a lot more English speakers on the Camino than I remembered.  Most of them were from America, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

We spent some of the afternoon resting and eating at the bar.  Gv cooked dinner (Pasta Carbonara if I remember right).  We went back up to the bar which had a nice patio area next to a large handball court.  I noticed packs and sleeping bags along the back of the court.  Turns out both albergues filled up here as well and people were preparing to sleep outside for the night.  People who had gotten in the albergues were loaning their sleeping bags to people who hadn't gotten in. The albergues were letting them use the showers.  (It was a cold night but I later heard that it hadn't been that bad - party central apparently.)

The sun setting on the Villamayor de Monjardín church tower.
When the sun went down it started getting cold.  I ordered my first cola cao.  Cola cao is a hot chocolate mix similar to nesquick served with hot milk.  I usually don't like hot liquids (not a coffee or tea drinker) but it tasted good on this cold evening.  We sat talking to Nr, Mt, and other pilgrims we met there.  We shared Camino tips and stories with the first timers.

That evening I was pulling something out of my locker when I saw something slip out and fall to the floor.  It was my shell necklace.  The shell shattered on impact.  I felt so bad.  I picked up the largest pieces and put them in my bag.  I knew where they had to go (I'll tell you where on day 30).  My mood was a bit down after that.  This was the second shell I'd broken in relation to this Camino (I talked about the first here).

In Villamayor de Monjardín we met a couple of Korean pilgrims who now lived in San Francisco.  He turned out to be a priest though I wouldn't know this for awhile.  His wife was walking the Camino for him.  She let us know in no uncertain terms that walking the Camino was his idea and not hers.  She was doing it for him ... reluctantly.  While he was prepared for the Camino she had packed makeup (in glass jars even!) and put her hair up in curlers every night.  Her husband carried all this extra weight - her price for him making her come along I think.  We would run into them all along the Camino and the change we would see was remarkable.  More on the change in later posts.

One thing I noticed early on was the number of screens you saw in the albergues each night.  The Korean couple carried two iPads and iPods (they listened to inspirational music as they walked).  I have to admit that the number of screens was a bit disconcerting. When I travel I like to unplug.  To me a pilgrimage should be different and separate from your everyday life.  These electronic devices stop us from leaving our everyday lives.   It's also hard to meet people when you don't want to interrupt the movie or television show they are watching on their iPad.  This would decrease farther down the Camino but it never went away altogether.

This had been the second stage where all the albergues had been "completo" (i.e. full).  I was becoming concerned that the Camino Frances would become a race for beds.  The crowd, and their effect on the Camino, was starting to wear on me a little bit ... and it'd been only two days on the Camino Frances.  Fortunately this would change soon.

Pictures can be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 11: 23 km ( 14.29 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 243 km (150.99 Miles)

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

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