Camino de Santiago - page 4
Table of Contents:
A Pilgrim's Progress: Fr. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, on the Camino de Santiago – 2018 - page 4
We left Torres del Rio with our goal being Navarrete - more than 33kms away - we knew we would not be able to make such a long trek and we would decide along the way.
It was a very cool and pleasant morning. My feet and toes were still complaining. Not only was I wearing shoes everyday - which I don't do - but punishing them daily. They had begun the Dark Night of Defeat.
The cool wore off and the sun began to bear down on us as we found our way into Viana - a beautiful city that was on the eve of their patronal feast - St. Mary Magdalene. This is the last city They were also going to have a 'running of the bulls' - every one was dressed in white with red sashes.
We found ourselves at the foot of huge church (Sta. María) and as we began to walk into the courtyard I found myself staring at the tomb of Cesar Borgia! Beautiful statues and retablo that was breathtaking.
Then we find out that this is also the eve of Deacon Peter's birthday. So declaring birthday privileges and seeing that the walk was going to be a killer we decided that Sunday would be a day of rest.
We had been discussing the different ways in which out tiredness played on our feelings: hangry = feeling off because your hungry; so slangry = feeling off because your sleep deprived; tangry = feeling off because you tired; so I guess if you hit the trifecta you would be tslhangry = feeling off because you were tired, sleepy, and hungry.
We agreed we would immediately forgive each other if we found ourselves in one of these conditions.
We found our way to Navarrete - also a beautiful city and amazing church - in the late afternoon. We checked into our albergue and found out that they too were celebrating. It was an artesian festival of pottery AND they were having a vigil mass!!
Exhausted. Each toe in it's own distinct and separate pain. We decided to go and browse the ceramic works which were in the church plaza and then attend the vigil mass.
I immediately spotted some 'cazuelas' (clay cooking pottery) that I wanted but knew I couldn't have. The cruelty of it all!!
We went into the church to prepare for mass and found several matronly women in the midst of their rosary.
We went and knelt in the first pew but were shooed into the next pew back then to the next pew back - they were having baptisms during mass. Ron and Peter opted for the other side of the aisle while I found myself within the periphery if the 'church ladies'. They were discussing among themselves about baptisms and when they usually are celebrated.
Two young couples showed up with their retinue of family members and godparents.
So I attended with the churc ladies. They are the backbone of the liturgy. When it came time for communion the elderly woman to my right was using a cane so I waited for her and offered her my arm which she gladly took. We went up to community in together arm in arm and I escorted her back to our pew. After the last prayer all the pilgrims were asked to present themselves before the altar for a blessing.
After mass the chorus of matrons questioned me as to where I was from because one of then thought I was from Madrid. Hahaha! I told them my closest blood tie to Spain was my maternal grandfather which only confirmed their suspicions that I somehow had a Spanish connection.
After mass we had dinner and headed home to shower and hit the sack with the idea of sleeping-in and having a later start.
We thought we were going to take our time getting started this morning but as we were getting ourselves together, the maintenance man came in to strip beds, sweep, etc. - so once again we were gently but firmly shooed-out. I began to understand St. Joseph's frustration in trying to find room in an inn.
We found a place for coffee and a croissant.
BUT before leaving Navarrete we went to the Tourist Information Center where we had a long conversation about options in getting to Nájera and then on to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. As Ron and Peter were discussing options I spoke to the young lady about Ron's blisters. She immediately suggested I take him about a block away to a clinic to have his feet checked. She said 'its Sunday', pharmacies are closed but this clinic is open and the tend to pilgrims.
Peter stayed in the church plaza with our stuff while I walked Ron to the clinic.
After a few minutes of some initial paperwork I had to run back to the plaza to get some of Ron's papers - traveler insurance proof - for the clinic. I got back to the clinic - Ron was nowhere to be seen so I assumed he was being tended to - and was working with the receptionist when a young nurse came into the reception area and said to me 'Venga conmigo' (come with me - command, not request!).
I followed her into a room where Ron was laying on an examination table. I was to serve as interpreter. She washed his feet and then a doctor came in and they consulted with each other as to how best proceed. After careful examination - and lots of warnings about the dangers of infection - they decided to douse his feet with betadine. Off came one pair of gloves and then on with a new pair, the nurse then applied ointment to each digit and into each blister, off came that pair of gloves and on came a new pair and she wrapped his toes and feet with gauze - at this point I tell Ron 'Man! Three pairs of gloves!'
More cautions about infection and then the nurse gave us betadine and gauze to take with us. She gave another stern warning - "if they get infected you will have to stay put for a few days."
We made our way back to the Plaza where Peter patiently waited with our backpacks. It was almost noon at this point. Being Sunday and in light of Ron's blistered feet, Peter's knee, my right hip and the hour of the day we decided that we would take a bus to Nájera, change buses and go on to Santo Domingo de la Calzada and spend the night there.
We gingerly found our way to the bus stop. We boarded and in a few minutes traveled what would have taken us most of the morning.
We got off at the station and waited for the next bus. We had some coffee while we waited and shared some cookies with a Latin American woman waiting for a bus going the opposite direction. Another pilgrim - from Switzerland - showed up and gave lots of advice on the care of blisters.
Our bus showed up and we clambered aboard. We were dropped off with all of our belongings at the bus station and now began the process of trying to figure out where we were and where we would be staying. Peter wanted to find the albergue run by the Cistercians. We headed for the cathedral. We found the Abbey of the Annunciation of Cistercian nuns and around the corner the albergue - and they had rooms! The rules of the house were explained - in all albergues you have to take off your walking shoes/boots and leave them with your walking staffs in the entryway.
We settled-in small room 12 x 6 with 3 twin beds crammed into the space - it looked marvelous! We walked back downstairs and discovered that there would be a rosary, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with vespers in the nun's chapel at 6:30 and a Vigil Mass at 8pm.
We decided to do our laundry before we went to the cathedral. We had to wash by hand and hang our clothes on lines in a small cloister garden and hoped that they would dry - seeing the size of the walls and the small amount of time the sun would shine on them.
We went to the cathedral to spend some time there before heading back to the nun's chapel.
The cathedral is HUGE but seems to be rarely used since most of it is part of a permanent exhibition.
The crypt of Santo Tomás de la Calzada is found there. You also find near his crypt, about 15 feet above the floor - a white rooster and white hen in honor of a miracle attributed to him.
A couple from Germany were making The Camino with their young handsome son. A tavernmaid became infatuated with him but he refused to acknowledge her interest. 'Hell hath no fury' - the tavernmaid in a fit of anger and embarrassment stuffed some silverware in his travel bag and after they left she denounced him to the Marshall. He was arrested, found guilty and hanged for the offense.
The parents came and found their son hanged. In their grief and anguish their son spoke to them that Santo Domingo had received his soul and presented him to God. The parents went to the Marshall and proclaimed both his innocence and the intervention of Santo Domingo.
Pointing to the roasted rooster and hen on his table - the Marshall said that that was as likely as the roasted fowl to crow - at that point both the rooster and hen crowed from the platter.
Above the rooster and hen is a piece of the scaffold that was used to hang the young man.
After touring the cathedral we made it back to the nun's chapel for the rosary, Exposition and vespers. It must have been a huge community in the past, there are over 30 choir stalls and 40 minor stalls in the sanctuary. There are only about 14 -16 nuns at the moment.
We had time for coffee and then we went to the Chapel of La Vigen de la Plaza for mass.
After mass we had a small dinner and then went back to the albergue, checked on our clothes - that were mostly dry - and after climbing over each other to get to our respective beds - a handspan apart - turned-- in for the night.
We got up early and prepared ourselves for the day. As we put on our backpacks at the door that leaves the albergue I noticed that there was lauds and mass at the nuns chapel at 8:30 - an hour and a half wait - which meant we would have a late start.
For many pilgrims it's about finishing the trip and keeping to a schedule, or they take it as personal challenge - we wanted this to be more of a spiritual journey. So we opted for lauds and mass with the Cistercian nuns. So we went and had a cup of coffee and a croissant before lauds and mass.
After mass we picked up two hard-boiled eggs for Ron and went our way.
We had consolidated some of our things to make our backpacks lighter and sent them ahead of us - great service for only 5 Euros. Well - 'if something can go wrong it will' - our luggage was supposed to go to the albergue in Tosantos. Peter got a text that the albergue was closed and he took our luggage - with our medicines and tech stuff to Villambistia the next town over. We would have to figure out what to do as we walked.
We walked 6.5kms to Grañon - a sleepy little village - we contemplated a snack but pushed through another 4km to Redecilla del Camino where we found a very nice tourist info center.
It was a terribly hot day, Ron's blisters made it difficult, Peter's knee and hip were acting up and I am just old and out of shape. And we were hungry. The woman at the tourist information center told us that there was no way we would be able to make it to Villambistia in one day.
So we opted for a bus. We walked another 2kms to Castildelgado where we caught a bus to Villambistia 14 kms away - it would have taken us all day to get there but the bus ride seemed to last only a few minutes. The bus driver was a bit ill tempered but we didn't let him affect us.
We found d ourselves in a VERY TINY town. We found our albergue and our luggage. Our hostess - Inmaculada - ran the albergue which is also a bar. For 15 Euros we had a place to sleep, dinner, and light breakfast in the deal. We took it - we were road and heat weary and just wanted to lay down somewhere.
We took off our shoes, left our walking sticks and walked upstairs - each stair a small challenge in itself- to the bunkbeds. There was an Australian girl in there sleeping - it was 3pm! - there was an Italian woman, ourselves, and we were shortly joined by a father/son duo from Poland.
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing to do so we went downstairs had something to drink and snacked on some tortilla and bread while a large dog took his siesta underneath our table.
Time to worry about laundry.
Our hostess, Inmaculada, offered to do our wash - for 4 Euros. We asked about drying the clothes. She responded 'In THIS sun!? - hang them in the terrazzo and they'll be dry in no time.' So, we showered and changed into our 'relief clothes and shoes'; made our laundry bundle and handed it over to Inmaculada.
The heat of the day was a bit stifling so we decided to get off of our feet for awhile and try to rest. I say 'try', because the bunk room was stuffy - we laid down and let the fatigue cradle us into a light doze for about an hour. It was a bit strange to have the Polish dad napping about six inches from me but the fatigue won out.
We started stirring and getting ready for our 7pm dinner in a common dining room. Inmaculada is a great cook - she served us (7 pilgrims) pasta and clams, followed by a delicious chicken in a red sauce, generous amounts of table wine and bread, followed by lemon flavored ice cream cones.
During the dinner we all got to know one another. The young Australian woman was going to be joined by her mother and they were going to walk for a week; the father / son duo were on their second Camino but this is the first time they walk the entire French route; the Italian woman has made the walk before and is taking her time to enjoy the country along the way. After a long dinner we all went up and crawled into bed and prayed for a breeze to blow through the bunks.