The Road to Santiago.

October 7, 2002

Puente la Reina.
Puente la Reina

Puente de la Reina to Estella

Had a good night's sleep and got up at seven. It was still dark, so I took out my flashlight to gather up my clothes. I took my time getting ready, taking a nice hot shower and packing my bags. I couldn't see hurrying off in the dark like many do. Besides I wanted to wait 'til the shops were open to buy some fruit to carry with me. Also, I needed the light to locate a caja automatica (ATM cash machine) to get some more euros.
After breakfast of café con leche, orange juice, and a couple of Magdalenas (that's about all they had besides bread), I put on my pack and headed down the hill. I overtook the young Quebec woman limping along very slowly. Said to myself that she will never make it. Then I went back to the plaza mayor (main square) to buy the fruit. As I left over the new bridge I was able to get a shot of the medieval bridge for which the city is named. I again saw the Quebec girl standing with her pack off. There were two other women with her whom I've seen on the road. I hoped they convinced her to stop and rest.

Passed over a Roman bridge in Cirauqi. Every time I see a Roman bridge or aqueduct I am amazed. The Romans were such good engineers. It reminded me of the time, twenty-five years ago, when I was in Italy on the outskirts of Rome. Since I had been a Latin student in high school, I desperately wanted to see the Appian Way — the inspiration for the saying that "all roads lead to Rome." I was astounded at the quality of the road. Sure it was rough because it was made of cobble stone and chariots were not meant to travel sixty miles an hour, but it was still a functional road. I couldn't help thinking that here was a road built over 2 thousand years ago, whereas back home Route 128 is less than 50 years old and in need of constant repair!

Passed by several fields of grape vines dripping with bunches of small, pea-sized grapes. I looked around to see if anyone was looking and snitched few. They were delicious. Then I came upon a group of German (or perhaps Dutch) pilgrims among the vines, grazing as if they owned the fields. I passed them by smug in my attitude that I wasn't like them. A little while they all quickly stepped by me and I admitted to myself that I really wanted some more grapes. So, when they were out of sight, I hustled off the path and grabbed a big bunch. They were so good that in about an half-hour later, I grabbed another bunch.


Down along.
Down along
The trail keep going up, up, up, and up. I saw a couple walking and asked them how far it was to the next village. They said it was Lorca and it was only about 15 minutes more. It was the longest 15 minutes I have ever walked. Actually it was about 45 minutes. I was very sleepy and just wanted to sit down and take a nap. I figured that if I did, I wouldn't want to get up again, so I kept going.

I finally reached Lorca and decided that it would be a good time for lunch. I tested my blood and it was over 200! I haven't seen a figure like that in months — I guess it was all those grapes. I decided that I already had lunch so I took 6 units of Humalog. (Note: it worked because later in the day just before supper my blood was 89, right on target).

While sitting on a bench waiting for the insulin to kick in I nodded off. A woman woke me up to suggest I lie down across the bench. A little while later she woke me up to see if I was all right — I must have started snoring. I told her that all I needed was a little shuteye — an expression that made no sense to her. As her group was leaving, she checked with me again.  I reiterated that I was okay, but I was surprised as to how tired I was. I think that the bad night I had two days before caught up with me.

Along came MiguealAn  (short for MiguealAngelo) whom I had met the day before at Cizur Menor. He was from Mexico but had lived in Spain for the past 15 years after going to the University in Pamplona. He was between jobs (as I always say) and had just gotten over a long relationship with a Navarrese chica (girl). What better reason does one need for a trip to Santiago? He was a big man with a round face, bulging eyes and a huge smile — instantly likable. Soon we were joined at the fountain by a man named Sergio, from Barcelona. We all sat and rested, making small talk about the camino and various subjects.
Sergio and me
Eventually the discussion turned to my heavy pack. They both hefted it and determined it to weigh about 18 to 20 kilos (40 - 44 pounds) and wondered about why I would want to do such a thing. I then explained to them about my diabetes and my desire to promote walking for health. After I gave them my card with web site address, they then understood. MiguealAn told us that he had two sisters, both of whom had been diabetics since childhood. As I rose to leave and hefted on my backpack, MiguealAn said in halting English. "On behalf of my sisters, Thank you!" That made me feel good for the rest of the day!

The remainder of the trip to Estella was more of the same — up and down, up and down. Occasionally it was up and around and then down. The directions never seemed to make sense. Thank God for the various friends of Santiago who paint those yellow arrows. As I approached Estella, I noticed something new — my first blister.

The alburgue was full, so I was out into an auxiliary dorm in an old adjoining building. It was just as well, because it wasn't crowded and quite pleasant. There, lying on the bunk, was my new old friend, MiguelAn, who greeted me with, "mi amigo" (my friend).

Even though Estella is a famous city, I was too tired to enjoy it. Since the restaurants wouldn't open 'til nine, I went looking for a supermercado (supermarket) to buy dinner. I got a section of cheese and jar of crabmeat — no carbos. When I got back to the albergue I was invited to join the others for dinner. MiguelAn was cooking garbanzos (chick peas) and Jorge, from Argentina, had made a big salad. I couldn't eat the garbanzos (carbos), but did partake of the salad. I passed around my cheese and someone passed the pan (bread). And, of course, out came two big bottles of vino tinto which were shared generously. With us were Elardo, the man from Salamanca, Leo from Buenos Aires, Domingo from Barcelona and, of course, the two Norte Americanos, Dudley and Cyril. Since everyone spoke Spanish the conversation was fast pitched. I didn't get it all, but enough to participate and enjoy the joking and camaraderie.

Later I was shocked to see the Quebec girl limp into the dining area. I asked her if she walked to Estella. She said no, that she had taken the bus. She decided to go to a doctor and she would have had to wait several hours so she came to Estella to see a doctor here. He told her that she shouldn't walk for about 3 or 4 days. She didn't know what she was going to do. At that point a young man, who had been painting the woodwork, spoke and said that in special cases of injury or illness, they sometimes waive the "one-night only" rule. He himself had twisted his knee and had been there for three days. He was working to pay back for the hospitality. At that point the girl cheered up. I hope that she was able to heal and continue on.
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