Day #8: Logroño to Navarette, 12.4km

04.24.2010

This morning I went to a cafe after saying "Adios" to Joani & Penelope (the Australian).  My plan was tentative, but included breakfast, waiting for the outdoor store to open, and deciding if I was going to take a rest day or not.

I found a pasteleria open and bought two almond cookies and a pastry with ham/cheese.  I asked a man on the street if there was a cafe open nearby and he directed me down the street to where I found a cafe open.  I ordered the usual, cafe con leche, and started to write in my journal some more.  Then, a drunk Spaniard came up to me and started talking to me in English.  He had been out all night and was quite entertaining.  I politely got rid of him, then wandered across the street to sit for a while before heading to the Tourist Office which had just opened.  They directed me to a store specializing in peregrinos called Planet Acua.

This place was AWESOME!!!  They had brands I knew, like Keen, Columbia, Salomon, Leatherman, etc.  I bought a new pair of socks and a new pair of Salomon shoes with a wider toe box to allow my feet to spread out more.  Grand total of 120€, which I don't really want to know how much that is really going to cost me.

With new shoes, a new attitude and some energy, I decided to walk to Navarette for the night.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving Logroño with a full bladder and spent every step of the next 5km walking through the city hoping I wouldn't pee my pants.  They don't have a lot of public restrooms here.  I ran into Lily, my friend from Ecuador and we walked for a bit through Logroño.  The path led mostly through a city park, so there weren't a lot of options to hide behind a bush to pee.

I knew there was a public restroom farther into the park I was walking through, so I motored on, barely able to focus until I got to the public restroom.  I left Logroño around 11a and made it to the restroom/cafe around 12:30-1p.  I have never peed so fast in my life!  I had planned to take a break here for food.  I was so tired from the heat (it was a beautiful Saturday!), I was having trouble speaking the poor Spanish I had been attempting so far.  They guy at the counter told me to go ahead and speak English to the kid standing next to him, so I did!  I got a half sandwhich with white bread, lettuce, mayo, hard boiled egg, and I think tuna or sardines......and a glass of OJ.  For dessert I treated myself to an ice cream bar!

I felt much better after lunch and draining my bladder.  It's the little things, really.  :)  That's become a motto of sorts for this Camino.  You learn to appreciate the small things.  They really do mean a lot.  I made it to Navarette around 3p, took a shower and saw my favorite Bavarian, Rudy, with his crew of Catalanians and Spaniards!  I love these guys!  He invited me to dinner later that evening in the Albergue.  I offered to bring something and he suggested a bottle of wine.  I set out to see the local church, find internet and find a grocery store.  I was successful with two out of the three.

The church was COLD and DARK!  For 1€, you can get the lights to turn on in the church, so I put a coin in the machine, the lights came on, I turned around and my jaw dropped!  This church had the most ornate, gold backdrop (I can't remember the exact term) behind the altar.  It was overwhelming to look at.  I spent about 10 minutes inside before I got too cold.

I found the grocery store and bought a bottle of Riojan wine for 5€ and few snack items for the next day or so.  I went back to the Albergue and took a nap before dinner at 8p.  After my nap, I met a nice Dutch bicyclist who had ridden all the way from Holland!  He had ridden 110km from Pamplona.  He was very nice and encouraged me to take a day of rest.  He also did not believe me when I said I would!

Dinner was running a bit late, but it was worth it!  Manolo was making a potato dish, Riojan-style.  It is called Patatas de la Riojana.  These men know how to eat!  They are all in their 60´s (I'm guessing, and they all look good for their age, I might add!) and they are wonderful cooks.  The meal started with a mixed salad (pinch of salt, olive oil, vinegar), an antipasti platter (tomatoes, green olives, white asparagus, and red peppers with olive oil drizzled over the top) and bread.  They also introduced me to a new drink.  It's called a Shandy, I believe and it is basically a light beer like Amstel with limonada soda, equal parts of each.  It was very refreshing.  The second course was the Patatas de la Riojana.  It was basically a potato soup, with large chunks of potoatoes, cooked with dried red peppers, onions, and slices of chorizo.  It was AMAZING!  Probably one of the best meals so far.  The men loved the wine I brought.  The hospitalera came in at one point to tell us to be quiet (we were quite loud, I guess!) and then they invited her to have a bowl of potatoes too!  She even brought out a bottle of local wine.  No label on the bottle, fresh from the winery.  It was not as "finished" as the bottle I had brought.  It was very earthy in flavor, you could taste the dirt (I mean that in a good way!).  I enjoyed it very much.

Then the men started singing old Catalan songs about the Camino and love.  I believe they are called "marineros" in folk music, if I remember correctly.  I could be wrong.  Anyways, it was so beautiful.  It was a magical evening and I feel blessed to have been included.  It is not completely lost on me that by traveling solo, I am afforded opportunities I might not have had if I were traveling with a group or another person.  My spirits were lifted today.