Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pilgrimage Day 5: Estella - Los Arcos

Estella is a real pilgrimvillage, founded to help pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela as far back as 1090. Something that distinguishes this village from others are all the churches and monuments. I mean they are all over the place. I paid 3 euros for the night in Estella. Very reasonably priced accommodation in a village I would like to visit again. I put my stuff together in the morning and continued on with my journey. My plan was to go a little over 20 km and walk a slower than I had done until now. My head has apparently a slightly different speed than my body. I need to focus on getting my head in place so that the speed is adapted to the body, which the head is a necessary part of (even though my head would believe differently from time to time). Today's journey leads me through the villages of Ayequi, Irache, Azquera, and Villamayor de Monjardín before I come to Los Arcos.

A special feature in the village Irache, after only 5 km of walking, is a fountain where you can drink your wine for free. Bodegas Irache has produced wine in Irache since 1891 and give a gesture to the pilgrims by having placed two cranes on the outside of their winery, one for white wine and one for red wine. I tasted both and  the wine tasted good. But dinking wine at 7AM is a little ackward, so a little taste was enough. I still had a long day's journey ahead of me.

Todays route was in many ways a bit lonely. I met few pilgrims, and there were few people I saw throughout the day. I was left much to myself in a beautiful landscape. Kilometer after kilometer of long flat gravel roads with farmland on all sides. The landscape has changed since the Pyreenenes. The forest is gone and there is a flat landscape as far as the eye can see. This does something to me. The first day I was so captivated by the wild landscape that I forgot both time and myself. I am currently in a landscape that does not change from hour to hour. I began to wander a little inward, into myself. My bad foot. I try to feel every step. Trying to walk by putting my heel down before my toes. I focus on taking one step at a time. All this makes me think differently. Me head is beginning to fall into place.

In Villamayor the Monjardín I go into a beautiful church, San Andrés Church. It is built in Roman style. It is a beautiful village and I pause here for a bit to eat and rest my feet. I take off my shoes and socks and let your feet dry and rest in the beautiful weather. I feel that this does me well.

After a few hours' more of walking, I come finally to the village of Los Arcos, often called "the city with good water." I am careful not to drink water from open fountains in Spain. There are usually signs by water pumps that say if the water is approved for drinking. In Los Arcos I walk around a bit before I found a small hostel that is run by a Brazilian pilgrimage organization. I learned here that piligrimage is very popular in Brazil. Many Brazilians take trips to Portugal or Spain to walk to Santiago de Compostella. It was a very nice atmosphere here. Welcoming, clean, nice bathroom with showers, a shared kitchen and a small outdoor area. Here I paid 8 euros for the night. I note that there are a variety of private organizations that offer accommodation, and they are usually more expensive than the local municipality and church hostels. But the standard seems to be a little better too. You get waht you pay for. I made pasta for dinner in the kitchen with bread from the local bakery. In the dining room there were 5-6 other pilgrims who also ate, and we shared todays experiences with each other. In the evening I bought a jug of local wine from the staff in the hostel for 2 euros. Life is good.

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