I walked out of Najera at 5:45 this morning planning to go 27.5K to Granon. Najera:
Followed the Milky Way west enjoying the bright stars. It is two days from the birthday of my father, Francis, and my sister, Francis, as I walk the Camino Frances. I feel them with me as I walk into Azofra at 7:00 in the dark quiet streets. I walk by a bar and hear music, Puccini. I walk into the bar experiencing intense joy thinking of my dad and sister and of Denise and last year in Lucca. Lucca is the birthplace of Puccini and we had 3 lovely days there attending two concerts in the church Puccini was baptized in. We fell in love with Puccini and Lucca. Anyway this was the second time after 79 days on the Camino where I walked into a bar in the early morning and was greeted by the emotional music of Puccini. I stood there crying unable to make an order. The barman waited patiently as I struggled to order a chocolate croissant:
I walked on and soon was joined by my Danish friends Bo and Lisbeth Dam. Not surprising as we seemed to always run into each other the last few days on The Camino as well as in alburgues. We sat and enjoyed breakfast in Santo Domingo before I continued on.
I walked on to Granon after 27.5K but felt I could go on and then made it to Redecilla del Camino at 31.5K. A long day for me. But Viloria de Rioja was only 4K more and would be the farthest I ever walked in 79 days on the Camino. So I continued on and walked for a while with Tom from England who was walking from his summer home near Innsbruck, Austria. I was humbled by Tom as I thought my 35.5K walk was a big achievement. Tom is 61 also and said he was going on to Belorado in the 34 degree(92 Fahrenheit) heat. He is walking from Austria. Tom and I in Viloria de Rioja:
Tom continued on and I stopped at the first Albergue and found it dirty so I went to the second one and the owner told me I could not leave in the morning until 6:30. Too many rules. Villamayor is only another 3.5K so inspired by Tom I walk on. Coming into Villamayor del Rio I pass three German women moving very slowly. It is 4PM now and all sane people are done walking. I say to the Germans, “You are all crazy to be walking in this heat “. They laugh and one of them says “Well maybe so but you must be crazy too!” I laugh heartily with them and agree we are all crazy.
We stop at the local hotel and have cold drinks and they kindly ask about Sjogren’s Syndrome and I share my thoughts on that. We joke about how crazy we all are and they walk on to Belorado while I walk to the single Aubergue in town. I see it is 200 meters off The Camino so I think hell why not go on to Belorado with the crazy Germans. So I shout out “Ultreia!” A word I have come to love which means simply, move on or go forward or just one more step. So I am a crazy man as I walk into Belorado at 5:00. An 11:45 walk covering 44K, 11K more than my previous longest day. So after a shower I walked into town and ordered a Sangria grande. I think sadly that I have walked a bit ahead of all my Camino buddies and am alone. The waiter brings out a large pitcher. Oh no I can’t finish this alone:
Soon Tom walks up and joins me and then the 3 crazy German women. You are never alone on The Camino. We had a fun evening 6 of us enjoying a very good peregrino dinner with good red wine and several toasts to all of us crazy people.
Ultreia! And Buen Camino!