Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Day 3 on The Camino.
We Only Thought It Was Raining Yesterday.
We had decided at dinner the night before that we three Americans would start out walking together. We were planning to get to Santa Domingo which was 21 km away, and Rohit, our new BFF, was hoping to get a little further to Granon, which was 28 km away.
If you’re walking the whole Camino, I think you have to average about 28 kilometers every day in order to reach Santiago within a month or so. On our first night in Navarrete, everyone else had been walking since well before Logrono. Actually there were many nights that we sat around the table with folks who had walked lots more kilometers than we had.
In Najera, we were the last ones to leave the albergue. One of the advantages of being the last to go is that it’s always super easy to find your shoes. 🙂
Our new friend was probably anxious to get going, but he was super patient with us. We took a photo with the albergue hosts before setting off.
As soon as we got outside of the town, the wind really picked up. But even though it was cold, it was a beautiful morning.
We were soon walking through vineyards again and enjoying talking with one another.
When we came to Azofra, we had been walking a little over an hour.
But we hadn’t really had any breakfast, so we stopped at a cafe in town.
We ordered coffees and a slice of tortilla, which in Spain, is a dish of eggs and potatoes, layered together in sort of a pie or really like a frittata. All the bars along this section of the Camino had tortillas baked, so we ate it often, but we first tried it in Azofra.
After a quick stop we got back out on the trail and kept walking into the wind. It had definitely picked up. It was blowing so hard that you wanted every little part of your body to be covered.
The views all around us were gorgeous.
You could see for a long way in every direction, which also made you feel like you were going to be walking against the wind for a really long time. The sky kept changing because the wind was blowing different weather patterns through so quickly.
You could literally lean forward as you walked with all your weight and the wind would hold you up. It was crazy. It reminded me of the many windy walks from my days of living in Aberdeen, and I was thinking about how I would get home from a walk in Scotland and just be exhausted from the wind. I started dreaming about a hot cup of tea.
Somewhere on the windy plain, our American friend picked up his pace a bit and got ahead of us. We figured we’d see him in the next town or in the next life, so we sat down on the side of the road for a minute to try to get a break from the wind. If you got really close to the ground, there was a pause in how much the wind was whipping your face.
We watched a sweet man and woman from Korea who approached us walking in a line. The man was in front and she was walking behind him so he could block the wind for her. They thought we had the right idea, so they came and sat down with us to get some relief from the wind.
Another friend who had been at our hostels for both of the last two nights walked by and paused to give everyone a little encouragement. Earlier when we had seen him, he was singing Rocky music out loud: Dun dun dunnnnn dun dun dun dun dunnnnn, which made us laugh and forget about the wind for a minute. In fact this Italian guy from Belgium probably made us laugh more than anyone else we met on the Camino. Among other strange items, he carried a pink wig in his backpack, just for fun. He always got ahead of us, but then we would pass him again because he was stopping to roll his own cigarettes and smoke. He was basically chain smoking throughout his entire Camino. Anyway, he paused to give the couple next to us a little pep talk before going on his way.
We finally pulled ourselves back up into the wind and walked until we reached the edge of the plain and came to the next little town (Cirueña). It was about noon when we stopped at the first open bar we saw. We weren’t even super hungry, but we both felt we just had to have a real break from the wind.
When we got inside, the girl at the bar was serving up paella, so we decided we’d have some. We still had 6km to go after lunch, so we tried not to sit for too long. We headed back out into the wind, and soon it was also raining. The wind made the rain feel like little pellets of ice hitting us, which is also an experience I’ve had walking in Scotland, but Kandace, who maybe has not been hit with both rain and wind so aggressively was questioning everything. After the little town, the plain opened back up so there was no escaping the weather.
We felt completely exposed, but we just marched on. Really, there was nothing else to do. We couldn’t really hear each other with the wind being so loud, and we had our heads down trying to keep the rain off our faces. For two hours, we continued in the thrashing rain, so that there was not one little piece of clothing on our bodies that was dry by the time we reached Santo Domingo.
Once the town was in sight, we both kept muttering things like, I can’t feel my legs. I can’t wait for a hot shower. I don’t know if I can go any further. We briefly discussed stopping in the first bar we saw, but we were so desperate to get out of wet clothes that we kept marching until we found the only open albergue. It was connected to the church next door, so it felt very somber when we walked inside, with vaulted ceilings and long cavernous halls. There were two hosts, which we later referred to as good cop and bad cop. The younger one gave us very curt instructions to put our wet things in a room off to the side and would not process us until we had dug out our passports, but then there was an older gentleman who seemed to feel very sorry for us since we were so drenched and miserable.
Much to the annoyance of the younger guy, it took us a while to peel off our wet things, and then when we were both down to just one wet layer and shivering, we pulled out our passports and found some cash so we could get our bed assignments. The beds were numbered and he actually gave us tiny little pieces of paper with our bed numbers on them, so you didn’t choose where you slept. We were sort of all filed into this one room full of beds. Then the older host walked us up a few flights of stairs to where the albergue was. We thanked him, threw our stuff down and practically ran for the showers. And I promise you this: A shower has never felt so good in all my life as that hot shower did. It restored us back to being human in a matter of minutes. This was not the first time in my life I have loved a hot shower so much, and I’m sure it won’t be the last (it was not even the last on this trip), but it was the best. I was beyond cold when we arrived at the hostel. Neither Kandace or I had on an extra bottom layer under our hiking pants, a mistake we did not make again for the rest of the trip, so we were thawing out from a deeply settled cold.
We rested on our beds for a while, but since it was still relatively early we decided we had to venture back out. Kandace had lost her hat somehow and so was on the hunt for a new one, plus we wanted to visit the church, which apparently keeps live roosters because of a legend about a rooster coming back to life. (What?). So we put on whatever dry things we could find and went back out into the rain to see the church.
Then we went to a bar and had a drink and a snack before wandering around a little more to look for a hat (no luck) and to find ourselves a little picnic dinner (success).
We went back to the hostel and joined our friends (old and new) at the community table. We pulled out our groceries and tasted some of the dishes being cooked up. Our American friend and several others had gone on ahead to the next town, (Well done them for braving 7 more kilometers in the rain!) but there were several folks we knew with us. The couple from Korea who we had stopped on the side of the road with was there, as well as Tony (the guy from Belgium) and Jin-Young (from Korea). There was a gal from Poland that we had met, and several others from Korea. There was a lot of lamenting about the weather and wondering what tomorrow would be like. But tonight we were cozy and warm. We went to bed in our (mostly) dry sleeping bags. Everyone’s wet things made the hostel bedroom smell like a gym bag, but we still fell asleep grateful to be out of the rain.