Nájera

Sometimes I think I either don’t understand half of what’s going on, or it’s constantly changing and I’m not keeping up. I wish I really understood Italian.

This morning was a whirlwind. Last night I thought I was giving Michele a fierce “I’ll never see you again” hug. And this morning I was giving him my sleeping bag to add to his backpack before having it mailed ahead to Nájera. I thought he was going to stop in Ventosa, the town before this one, which would’ve offset our caminos, probably for the duration of the trip. But here we are in Nájera! We rushed out of the hotel to a nearby cafe, out of the cafe to the street, and started walking. Danilo walked faster than the rest of us and before long he was out of sight.

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The sun was mostly hidden behind clouds today, so the way which would otherwise have had a few nice vistas was a bit boring. There was a mild elevation gain, but nothing really challenging. The pain did come back in my ankle, but after stretching it and following some posture advice from a Spaniard, and taking care to make sure I always do a full heel-toe roll with each step to stretch the muscle, things seem fine now. The Spaniard’s advice was to keep your gaze farther into the distance rather than close in front.

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The new shell symbol now that we're in La Rioja

I’ve been concerned about what will come after the Chiara and Lidia leave. Sarah has contacted me by Whatsapp. She’s a speed demon though; racking up a ton of kilometers per day. We’ll see if she slows it down a bit so we can meet in Grañon tomorrow.

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Tonight has been restful. Everyone other than Danilo and I found today to be really tough, so they’re all tired and eager to relax.

We wandered through the town and discovered that today is medieval/renaissance festival. Archers, swordsmen, a tent full of falcons, merchants, more. All the people were out in the streets and the kids playing. Michele didn’t feel well, so Lidia, Chiara, Danilo and I went to a nearby restaurant for the pilgrim’s menu while he slept. Now here we are in the albergue again, winding down before an early morning tomorrow.

It’s a long way to Grañon.

-Daniel

Logroño — Too many despedidas

Written last night:

Today was bittersweet. The road was easy enough – mostly flat. We did enjoy the famous fuente de vino in Irache, though it was very early in the morning for wine.

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The pain of my injury only caught up with me on occasion. But at lunch we said farewell to Sarah, Merel, and Yanjic. I don’t like goodbyes. Nobody warns you on the forums that so many of the people you begin to care for are not walking to Santiago with you. They go to cities along the way as their vacation days allow. New faces appear and old ones disappear.

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I hope to meet Sarah again along the way. Merel and Yannick are done soon but Sarah continues on. Tonight they went past Logroño to Navarette, and that may mean that she’ll be ahead of me for the rest of the trip. Or perhaps she’ll meet us in Grañon. I hope so. She’s one of the only ones carrying on past Burgos, and I enjoy talking to her.

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Michele and Elena, who are also heading towards Santiago or maybe Finisterre, will take a short day tomorrow, which will offset them from my path, possibly permanently.

And soon Chiara and Lidia will take a bus to Burgos and I’ll be without them for the first time since the mountains.

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But tonight was beautiful. We walked through Logroño’s vibrant centro, Ivan leading the way, and we ate and drank at one bar and then the next and more, ending at one of those odd bars that plays so much music from the Caribbean that I feel like I’m back in my car listening to the radio. There was singing and dancing, a clarinetist in the street, happy conversation and as joyful a farewell as any. But how I’ll miss them. And I brace myself for the next goodbyes. No one warns you of this. They should.

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It’s late and I have to sleep.

-Daniel