We left the albergue at 7:45 this morning ready for our walk to Estella. Our stay at Puente La Reina was uneventful save for our challenge to find dinner. In Spain people tend to eat later than pilgrims want to. There is not much hope of finding a meal before 8:00 pm unless you find a compassionate bar owner that is willing to rustle something up for you. We found such a bar but the dinner was more of a dog’s breakfast. In the end we gave thanks for the caloric intake and creaked on back to the albergue. An interesting note is that one sees (as we did) occasional non pilgrim folks spending the night at Camino albergues. A lady, obviously down on her luck, spent the night with us. She said had been on the road for three years. She was pushing a cart with all her goods aboard. She was quite pleasant and prepared some small sandwiches for us. She slept on a table while we all had beds. It struck me how willing she was to give out of her own poverty to people who obviously could fend for themselves. It was a great lesson, as we sadly tend to be suspicious of strangers in need. In this case her needs were enormous but her charity was even greater. Why was I fearful? What might I lose? Would it be missed?
With this life lesson tucked under our belt Robin and I left the albergue, wandered down the empty streets of Puente La Reina, guided by street lights casting pools of yellowish light that led us to its namesake bridge and onto the Camino. Surprisingly, the temperature was a very mild 45 F, the skies were clear, and we were brimming with optimism. There is a steep climb that gets the blood flowing shortly after leaving town. We crested that and set out for Cirauqui where we planned to stop for coffee. The day was beautiful and the temperatures quickly nudged 60F. The high for the day was 68 F.
We passed all sorts of people enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, washing cars, gardening, etc. We continued with the usual Camino pastime of going up and then down and the up again. We walked into Estella about 2:00 and set a course for the parochial albergue, St. Miguel. It was closed but a Guardia officer we encountered suggested a small hotel, Chapitel, just behind the church. We made our way there and settled into very comfortable surroundings. We attended mass as it was the Feast of the Epiphany. There were 30 people at mass and thousands enjoying the holiday festivities in the streets. Not much to add there.
So, after enjoying a brief break here in Estella we will be off in the morning for either Los Arcos or Torres del Rio. The weather is forecasted to cool slightly but remain dry. No. Complaints. The Camino has both challenged and delighted us. It is uncanny how many essential life lessons seem to play out as we walk and interact with those we meet. All is well. Two very tired pilgrims are now going to sleep. Cheers for now.