Jan 28, 2015: Alagón to Zaragoza 28.8 K

Leaving Utebo under sunny skies

Another nice day awaited us as we stepped out of our hotel in Utebo. Today’s walk should have been 28.8 K from Alagón, but as we spent the night in Utebo we simply walked 13.3 K into Zaragoza from there. With gps in hand we swung through the early morning chill and eventually picked up the Camino path by the church (with a stunning Muslim style tower) and we were on our way. We wound our way along a gravel path up to the village of Monzalbarba, and enjoyed the short walk down the nice tree lined street that led us out off town.

Rio Ebro and path

Soon the outskirts of Zaragoza could be seen in the dIstance. We moved along a paved secondary road until we rejoined the Rio Ebro and a beautiful multi use path that bordered it. We turned right at the river and followed the path all the way until it brought us up onto the street that took us to the Catedral Basilica de Nuestra Señora Del Pilar. A beautiful and short day’s walk. We stopped briefly at the Tourist Office which located in an old tower on Avenida Cesare Agusto just as you approach the Basilica, and then went right to the magnificent Plaza Del Pilar, and then into the Basilica.

Priest stamping our credentials

We took a brief walk around and were amazed at the size and beauty of this church. We also noticed an attendant in the foyer of the sacristy and (Robin’s idea) went in to see if we could get a stamp for our credential. The attendant gestured to a corner office where a priest was speaking to someone. We kept busy enjoying the art work that seemed to adorn every bit of the church, including the sacristy. In short order the priest was available and in we went to get our stamp. He was very happy to oblige. We explained we were on pilgrimage to Manresa and he offered some kind words (in Spanish) as he fussed over an elaborate stamp and endorsement. Just wonderful. After that it was a bit more star gazing in the Basilica, and then it was off to find our hotel, the Catalonia El Pilar. As it turned out it was only a few minutes walk from the Basilica, and was nicely situated in a quiet plaza shared with yet another church. We have managed to get to a lavandería to wash our clothes, find a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and still make the 6:00 pm mass back at the Basilica, where mass is said every hour. Wow. So now it is bed time and a sleep in is all that is scheduled for tomorrow. We did discover that tomorrow is the festival of San Valero, the patron saint of the city. More on that later. But I did read that it involves a very large “king cake” and lots of hot chocolate. Trying to get this posted so I can start my sleep in. Signing off from Zaragoza, and good night to all.

Outside of Utebo
In Monzalbarba
Left over from an Expo in 2008
Bridge over our path to the Basilica
The Basilica looms ahead
Who was here first?
Plaza Del Pilar and Basilica
A quick break to hydrate.
Another Chinese restaurant, makes Robin happy.
Our hotel
Passing through the market
Dessert

 

Jan 30, 2015: Zaragoza to Fuentes de Ebro 26.0 K

Early in the day

We awoke from a truly sound sleep (no aching feet and legs to keep us stirring) and set about getting ready to resume our Camino. Our rest day in Zaragoza was a wonderful break, but now it was time to get back to work. The streets below our hotel window were dry, but rain was definitely on its way. We arranged a taxi to get us out of the city and settled on a ride to the small village of Cartuja Baja. This shortened our walk today by about 5 kms which was just fine with us. We left Cartuja in a steady light rain that did not let up all day. It wasn’t much of a walk. We spent a good portion of the day walking alongside a freeway to Burgo de Ebro, but then separated onto a gravel path that led us through some cultivated fields for awhile. Despite our well needed rest in Zaragoza we never quite hit a brisk pace today. Perhaps it was the rain, and the rain softened gravel that kept us moving ahead a stately 4 kph. We arrived at the Hostal Elena at 2:00, after a five hour walk from Cartuja. Robin and I were both happy to call it a day. Our host, Elena, spoke quite good English, and that helped to get all the usual post walk stuff sorted out. We were able to slip next door to the restaurant before it closed at 3:00 and had an early dinner. So now we are in a small room with a clothesline full of wet gear strung across the width of it. Robin has become quite adept finding places to string our clothesline. The rain should continue through the night but we are hopeful it will start drying out in the morning.

Loving our umbrellas

For the past several days we have been walking through the Ebro River valley, that has allowed a significant agricultural enterprise to thrive by virtue of irrigation. We have seen an extensive system of small canals that bring water, presumably from the Rio Ebro, to the fields. The canals are dry now but appear to be ready with small gates to channel crop saving water when needed. Tomorrow we will be moving off this green cultivated area and out onto the (desert like) Monegros Plateau. It is curious to see just how abruptly the green area turns to brown on the gps satellite map. I am not sure what this means to us other than a truly solitary walk across an apparently empty landscape (no services). In fact our stage break for tomorrow (Venta de Santa Lucia) is a restaurant (only open Mon-Fri) out in the middle of nowhere, but along a road. No other buildings (for many kilometers) just the restaurant from what I can see when I zoom in on the map. So we have made arrangements with a taxi driver in Bujaraloz, a town 20 K up the road where we have a room booked in a hostal, to be ready for our call to come get us tomorrow afternoon in Venta. For now I am Dozing off listening to our wall heater huff and puff trying to take the chill off our room and dry our clothes. Better call it a day. Good night from Fuentes.

At one point every poke we saw had a stork’s nest
The clouds thickened
It was funny how they all stared at us
Crunch…crunch…crunch
Today’s oath
Looking back as we arrived in Fuentes de Ebro
Fuentes ahead

 

 

 

Feb 1, 2015: Venta de Santa Lucia to Bujaraloz 20.6 K

Day begins

Today was another day of backtracking to complete an otherwise missed stage. We met our taxi driver, Carlos, at 9:00 and he drove us back to Venta to begin today’s walk. It was another dry day, but still cold and quite windy. Not much to it as far as navigation goes, just keep the N 11 on your left until you cross it just before Bujaraloz. As simple as it was I still managed to wander off in the wrong direction at one intersection. Robin caught my mistake and we were shortly back on our track. The path had a few muddy patches but was mostly dry and we could make good time. It was a very pleasant day to be out walking. The never ending, far reaching vistas of the Monegros Plateau make for great photo ops. I do apologize if some of today’s photos appear to have a light spot center low. It is because at the end of today’s walk I noticed a big smudge on the lense (sorry). That problem has now been resolved. Better luck tomorrow. Not much else to note, except we are another 20 K closer to Manresa. Tomorrow we are walking to Candasnos and then coming back to Bujaraloz again (thank you Carlos) to spend the night. Carlos will the have to return us to Candasnos so that we can walk from there to Fraga. Once that little shuffle gets taken care of I think we are done with taxis as we have lodging at all other upcoming stage breaks. Today was also a perfect day to incorporate the Jesuit practice of the Examen. This is a daily (some do this twice daily) 5 part practice that St. Ignatius used to recognize God in his life.

Look for God’s presence everywhere and in everything.

Acknowledge all the things in your life that you are grateful for.

Review the events of the day.

Ask for forgiveness for the times when you have fallen short.

Pray for God’s enlightenment so that future choices will serve God above all else.

It seems pretty straightforward, but it is challenging to prevent this kind of prayerful reflection from becoming stale and dry. But, the beauty of being on pilgrimage is that you have a lot of time to practice.

Robin and I have our day’s end pilgrim chores down to a pretty solid routine. So it comes as no surprise that once again our room has a laundry line strung across it, showers are done, our boots are stuffed with newspaper and are parked in the corner, and dinner has been eaten (more like a late lunch). Various devices with batteries are also being charged. Nothing left to do except enjoy a glass of wine and relax. That is until we wake up tomorrow and do this all over again. It is, admittedly, a curious way of life, but also oddly compelling.

Hermita de San Jorge
Approaching Bujaraloz

 

 

Jan 31, 2015: Fuentes de Ebro to Venta de Santa Lucia 28.8 K

Somehow this post went missing during an attempt to publish it so I will recreate it and hopefully get it uploaded tonight. Second chance a charm…

 

Pino de Ebro

We spent the night at the Hostal Elena in Fuentes. Elena our host spoke good English which helped in sorting out some taxi logistics for a lift out of Fuentes in the morning. A few phone calls later we had a plan, a friend of Elena’s would pick us up at 8:30 and drop us off down the road about 7 K at the junction of the N 232 and the N 11. We would then walk into Pino de Ebro and continue on to Venta. The previous day’s rains had left most of the off-road paths pretty muddy, especially in those flat areas without good drainage.

Our jump out of Fuentes would eliminate about 6 K of mud dancing. We walked on into the brightening day following the Camino arrows through Pino de Ebro. This was completely unnecessary, unless you have need of some service there, as the Camino path takes a long lazy loop through the village and deposits you right back in the N 11, not far from where you left it, for your efforts.

 

Going up

Leaving Pino one starts a long gentle climb up to the level of the Monegros Plateau (about 500 feet for today). The highway walking eventually leads you to a gravel path/road that in form or anther will take you all the way to Venta. As we climbed up the gravel oath had some muddy spots that held us back a bit, but they wind and then sun helped dry things out so overall we moved along pretty well. The change in the terrain was striking. I guess I was expecting something more desert like, but what we found was a broad prairie, with somebody rolling hills, and cut through by deep arroyos. It was strikingly similar to the Alto Meseta west of Castrojeriz on the Camino Frances. Another surprise was the color. The satellite map had everything in some shade of brown, but today all was green. There were obvious signs of tilled fields with bright green shoots standing 3-4 inches high, and shimmering in the gusty winds.

Another bull sign

We have not seen one Camino Ignaciano pilgrim since we left Azpeitia. We did see a dozen Santiago bound pilgrims as we approached Logroño, but no one heading east. Today was no exception. Our solitude was only broken by a trio of Mad Max like off road vehicles, and a few hunters in reflective vests combing the distant hillsides. The weather stayed pleasant (except for the incessant wind) and we eventually raised the restaurant building in Venta on the horizon ahead. Nothing else was visible as far as the eye could see, and as it played out it was closed. Upon arriving at Venta we beat it around the building to find a quiet lee where we could make a phone call to our prearranged taxi driver, Carlos, to come pick us up. Twenty minutes later we were bombing up the N 11 towards Bujaraloz, and the Hostal El Español where we will be camped out for three nights. What a day. Just stunning.

Almost atop the plateau
On top
This is all there is
Out of the wind for the moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 2, 2015: Bujaraloz to Candasnos 20.6 K

Our stay at the Hostal El Español is drawing to an end. We have been here two nights and will spend one more. We have done a lot of shuttling around by taxi during our time here but it has all worked out, and El Español has been a good central location for us. But, today we start out on foot from our front door as we walk from Bujaraloz to Candasnos. 

Some light rain had fallen early last night, but there were no traces of it as we stepped out to cross the highway and find our way out of the village. The weather was fine. Temps were right at 40 F, with partly cloudy skies, and best of all, no wind (very little anyhow). Our first view this morning, as we headed out of town, was of a broad flat plain pierced by an arrow straight trail. The partly cloudy skies provided Much appreciated relief from the sun as it rose muted and indistinct behind a veil of clouds. Much better than having it burn through your eyeballs as you head right into it first thing in the morning. The plateau we are on, we discovered, has some interesting features. At low angles it appears dead flat, but once you gain some elevation (we had hills today) you can see it is actually a series of very large mesas separated by large arroyos or small valleys. We have been been following the N 11 highway for the past few days and today was no exception. One nice thing was that for a good part of our walk today we were separated from the actual highway, and that brought a different feeling of peace and quietude that you just can’t conjur as large trucks are racing past just on the other side of the guardrail. 

We remain alone in our small pilgrim universe. Even after acknowledging the occasional Santiago bound pilgrim passing through, and the increased Ignaciano traffic in warmer times of the year, pilgrims must still be a bit of an anomaly here. I feel the locals must struggle to understand exactly what it is that we are doing. Even the girl at the bar this morning gave me a ‘mucho frio’ gesture as I headed out the door as if to ask why would you want to out and walk in the cold. Fair question actually. But, out we went and made a good day of it. We enjoyed some of the varied terrain today, as we have seen scant few hills these past days. One section, at the bottom of a steep slope down from the highway was a muddy slog through stiff brush and tall grasses. But, apart from that it was quite a pleasant day. By early afternoon we had arrived at a point that gave us an unobstructed view down to Candasnos sitting alone out on, yet another, broad flat plain. 45 minutes later we had Carlos on his way to give us a ride back to Bujaraloz. Tomorrow morning Carlos will return us to Candasnos so we can walk on to Fraga our destination for tomorrow night. This will be the end of our taxi shuttling as we now have lodging at all places where we finish for the day. By Wednesday we will be entering Catalunya, our last province. Here we will start gaining elevation as we head towards Montserrat. We are now 8 days from Manresa (but who is counting). All is well here on Los Monegros.

 

Feb 3, 2015: Candasnos to Fraga 26.0 K

‘I’We finally bid farewell to Bujaraloz this morning. Our very punctual taxi driver, Carlos, was at El Español at 8:00 sharp. We loaded up our gear and headed east to Candasnos 20 K away. The forecast called for showers today but we only saw a few in the early morning hours before we left. Once we started walking it was dry, cold and, yes, the wind was back again (more on that later). We pushed off from Casdasnos at 8:30 on another familiar looking trail, make that flat and straight. It was good walking and we were making good speed in the blustery morning wind. Thank God the wind was from behind us. We just sailed along. The only infrastructure between Candasnos and Fraga is a gas station about half way. We drew that abeam at 11:00, and just kept walking. Sometimes Robin and I will take a break, but more it is more likely we will just keep walking. Today was a just keep walking day. The scenery on the plateau was eye catching as always, but the best was saved for last. During this stage you descend from the Monegros Plateau to get down to Fraga. One moment we were on a flat prairie, and the next we were looking down at a wonder world of geographical features, as we reached the point of descent. The views were spectacular. 
Now about the wind. It had been blowing a good steady 25-30 mph all day (yes, I am done with the wind), but as we moved around the rim of the plateau the wind took a final shot at us. In short it was frightening. The wind picked up to 40-45 mph range and we were now walking across it, not downwind. Robin and I were as close to the ground as we could get and still walk. Our legs were spread wide apart, and we were leaning hard into the gusts. I kept thinking the wind would not have to blow much harder before we would just be swept away. Our time on this ridge was short (but not short enough) as we soon picked up the arrow marking the downward trail. We redoubled our efforts to get off that ridge as quickly as possible. As we lost altitude we also lost the worst of the wind, but not all of it. It just followed us down to Fraga where we arrived in the Plaza De España at 2:30. What a day. Splendid, but not yet over. We misjudged the location of our hostal for tonight. It was actually on the far eastern side of Fraga (outside the city limits) approximately 7K from where we were standing in the Plaza De España. We decided to carry on and make tomorrow’s 33 K walk a bit shorter. We pushed on and climbed up out of Fraga, and then descended into the eastern approaches to the city. We finally spotted our hostal but not before we crossed the busy A2 (by underpass and bridge) a couple of times trying to get our bearings. It all ended well. We arrived at the Hostal Oasis at 4:15. Our room is quite basic, but thankfully warm. We missed the lunch cut off at 4:00, so we will be dining at 8:30 instead. Considering our efforts today Robin and I both would have liked to have been in bed by 8:30, but no luck there. Still there was so much to enjoy and be thankful for during today’s walk. As always we feel blessed to be able to do this pilgrimage and rise to its challenges. So far, so good. Tomorrow’s walk takes us into the province of Catalunya, and the city of Lleida. Manresa here we come. Saint Ignatius, pray for us.

Apologies for blog problems

I have been struggling the last few days with Blogsy, the app that I use to post to Blogspot.com. I have tried some work arounds but so far the best I can do is revert to using Blogger, which I hate because it does so little, and the little that it does, it does poorly. Not a ringing endorsement, I agree. So if multiple photos turn up, I am sorry. I just can’t seem to figure out how to delete them in Blogger, and quite honestly I am too tired to spend a lot of time researching it on the road. I’ll make the corrections once I am home. Once again my apologies. 

John

Feb 4, 2015: Fraga to Lleida 33.0 K

Today was filled with surprises. Having walked out of Fraga yesterday (7 K) to reach our Hostal Oasis we were now positioned to have a 26 K day instead of 33. That was very meaningful as snow was pelting down when we raised the shutters this morning at 6:30. Today was supposed to be fair and dry. No matter we still had a good day’s walk ahead off us and we were anxious to move on. The Hostal Oasis had two redeeming features. It was right on the Camino, and our room had a great heater. Everything else was unremarkable. We sat at breakfast crunching our tostada, and washing the crumbs down with cafe con leche for me and a cortado for Robin (less milk, same caffeine). I spotted a guy who was in the bar last night, who had reclaimed his seat first thing in the morning. The Oasis has at least one solid fan. We settled our bill and moved out onto the highway service road that was our Camino path to start. The snow was now mixing with rain and the street was filled with slush. Nothing soaks a hiking boot like walking in slush. Shortly two pairs of GoreTex boots were soaking wet. We followed the road until it led us away from the highway and uphill through a snow covered orchard. There was more snow on the ground as we climbed, and as a bonus the rain had now switched back to snow. I was thinking we still have 26 K to go and we are moving along like snails in snowshoes. But,  

some navigation issues interrupted those thoughts as we bent our way up and down and around some orchards to find the highway once again. We had a short stretch on an exit road that threw some slush our way as trucks flew past, but mercifully that time was reasonably short. The morning was still wasn’t offering anything to smile about, and we just pressed on. By noon we were in the village of Alcarràs with 13.7 K to go. The day was starting to come right. A bit of sun was peaking through and our spirits were rising. As we walked through the town we found an open bar and ducked in for a break. Some days just call for a carrajillo (coffee and cognac, or orujo), and today was one of those days. We dumped our packs on a couple of chairs and ordered up. We also added a bit to eat and enjoyed a nice warming break in what had been a snowy, wet, and challenging morning. 
Our post carrajillo day was much better than the pre carrajillo day (not sure why??). We found the snow melting and bare road surfaces reappearing. Spring had come to Catalunya. We pressed on and at the next town of Butsenit we took a hard right and found ourselves on a marvelous gravel path following the Rio Segre which would take us right into Lleida now 10 K ahead. We found new energy in this tranquil path and stepped along to arrive in Lleida at 3:00. We checked into the Hotel Real (close to the Camino) and quickly headed out again to find a restaurant before the 4:00 bewitching hour. We turned uphill just a block or so from our hotel and walked into a restaurant that specializes in artichoke dishes. We had a magnificent meal consisting of a salad of mixed greens, pork stuffed with a bit of foie gras, and marinated artichokes. The second course was a rice dish of mushrooms and artichokes. Both were absolutely excellent. The Catalunya wines recommended were exceptional as well. I couldn’t help but think back to breakfast where we were looking at a variety of plastic wrapped pastries trying to think how to finish our breakfast. I think back to the words of St. Paul, who said, I have learned to live with and without. How true. Pilgrimage is full of wonders. Off to Palau D’Anglesola tomorrow. Good night from Catalunya. St. Ignatius pray for us. 

Feb 5, 2015: Lleida to Palau D’Anglesola 22.7 K

It had been freezing overnight but this morning the temperatures were starting to move towards the mid 30’s, with the hope that mid 40’s might grace us by early afternoon. We were still dreaming of our wonderful dinner yesterday as we went down to the buffet breakfast that awaited us. We had enough coffee and toast and everything else to carry us to Palau, our destination for today. We have booked a hotel room in the neighboring town of Mollerusa, but we’re not quite sure how to get there if we wanted a ride. As we were checking out a kind lady, who spoke excellent English, helped us with a phone call to our host in Mollerusa. He agreed to pick us up in Palau whenever we called. Perfecto. Offering our thanks to the lady who graciously helped us, we then swung out the door and into a very cold Lleida avenue. We followed the river out off town eventually picking up the orange  arrows that point us towards Manresa. This should have been a nice easy walk, as we had plenty of good food, a great night’s sleep, and even showed some restraint in sampling the local wines. We started off strong but as the day wore on we just felt tired. No reason for this, but there it is. Today’s landscape was at first, and at last, a walk through agricultural fields (mostly fruit trees). The path was mostly gravel turning to mud as the snow melted and softened the ground. We clomped along hopping from tuft of grass to tuft of grass always looking for dry footing. This became quite draining and perhaps contributed to our feeling of being stuck in low gear. But, we pushed onward and by 12:30 we were in the village of Bell-Lloc. This left 9.7 K to go, and we felt like we had only 5 left. The following winds had now pushed away the morning cloud deck allowing the radiant heat of the sun to bring new warmth and life to our bodies. We shed our jackets, and shoved off for Palau. It was a long 2 hours but we made it. A quick phone call to our host in Mollerusa alerted him that we had arrived. He showed up 10 minutes later and took us directly to the hotel. Another perfect day done. Joan, our host, has agreed to do our laundry, and help us with another off stage hotel connection for tomorrow night. So with those pressing matters in hand, and with 20 minutes to spare before the restaurants closed for the afternoon, we beat it out the door and directly across the street to a wonderful Italian place, La Tagliatella. We had a splendid meal, followed by a couple of cortados and a very nice limoncello. We were at piece. Our feet were still sore, but everything else was just fine. Also, we are now two for two for dinners. This is a record on this pilgrimage. No complaints…just saying. 

Below some pictures from the cathedral in Lleida, some Lleida street scenes, and some scenes from today’s walk.

Feb 6, 2015: Palau D’Anglesola to Verdú 24.7 K

Our host in Mollerusa (2 K from Palau), Joan, has proven to be a model of human kindness. He has answered all our questions, solved our transportation problem for today (getting from Verdú to Tàrrega where our hotel is), picking us up and dropping us back to Palau, doing our laundry, and then this morning at breakfast assuring us we could have eggs for breakfast when the breakfast room attendant said they were not available. One thing I noticed is that he never equivocated. His first instinct was to say yes, and be of help. There was much to learn from this young man’s behavior. It was a gift to meet him.

We left our new friend Joan at the trail head in Palau and stepped off into a very cold morning with temperatures struggling to get out of the 20’s. We were bound for the village of Verdú where we would meet a taxi, arranged by Joan, to take us to Tárrega where we would spend the night. Verdú was one of those towns that had no accommodation available other than an albergue (30 beds). We were looking for private accommodation and could only find that up the road in Tàrrega. But I am getting ahead of myself. So off we went enjoying the fact that the low overnight temperatures had frozen every soft spot on the Camino path rock solid. No muddy boots today. We were very comfortable in the clothing we had on, and suffered not in the least due to the cold. I had on a 120 weight Icebreaker t shirt, a 200 weight Icebreaker long sleeve zip neck pullover, a lightweight Montbell synthetic filled vest, a merino wool buff, and a Golite hard shell. I also had on wool glove liners and Mountain Hardware waterproof outer gloves. I wore 200 weight Icebreaker long underwear and over that pair of lightweight Patagonia hiking pants (non waterproof). A wool beanie and my Teva Kimtah boots completed my trail ensemble. Oh, and on my feet were Injinji liner socks and Icebreaker medium weight merino wool hiking socks. The only trick I had left up my sleeve, well two actually, were a lightweight Montbell down jacket (best piece of gear I ever bought), and a Mountain Hardwear pullover fleece. The last two are what I typically change into after walking, but could be pressed into service for added warmth if necessary. So as we were walking along feeling very well fitted out I started thinking what St. Ignatius would have been wearing as he moved through these same lands, at this same time of year, in 1522. I was thinking you would need a crane to lift him up onto his mule as his winter clothes alone must have weighed a ton (and that is assuming they were dry). 
The morning passed by quickly as we were stepping along nicely to generate some body heat. We passed through the village of Bellpuig (our half way point for today) at around 11:15. We didn’t stop. No carajillo today (although I could have used one). We pressed on through very tidy agricultural lands. Lots of orderly fields spread out before us. It struck me that this area just seemed a bit more cared for (a bit more prosperous) than the fields we saw leaving Lleida. While on the topic of agriculture, it dawned on me, after many days of walking through farmlands, just how much of this earth is used just to feed us. Breathtaking. 
The afternoon passed nicely as the temperature climbed into the mid 30’s (positively balmy). The terrain was changing as we now saw the land ahead actually rising to meet us. We will continue to gain elevation as we approach Montserrat. We arrived in Verdú at just after 2:00 and walked up to church where we were to call our taxi. As it turned out the Tourist Office was located right next to the church and it was open so in we went. The young lady manning the desk was thrilled to see two pilgrims walk through her door. She spoke good English and agreed to call our taxi and explain where we were. While we waited she stamped our credentials and told us much about the town. She took several photos of us and just was filled with energy. She was saddened a bit that we had a hotel reservation in Tàrrega and would not be staying at the local Albergue, but she also understood. Ten minutes later our taxi arrived, and after a flourish of hand waving goodbyes, we zipped out of Verdú for the neighboring town of Tàrrega where we processed in behind a tractor right through town to our hotel. We just had time to drop our gear and race back up the street to the nearest restaurant for lunch/dinner. We returned to the Ciutat De Tàrrega, our hotel, ballasted down with a menu del dia for Robin and a pizza for me. All was going well. Robin was up in our room, and I was sorting out some transportation issues for tomorrow’s walk. The lady at the desk was very accommodating and we soon had a plan for tomorrow. With this minor miracle accomplished I ascended the stairs thinking of nothing but a nice hot shower. Upon entering the room Robin informed me the water was sort of lukewarm. Not to be discouraged, and always the optimist, I thought how cold could it be. I soon found out. I am not accustomed to screaming while I shower but today was an exception, and scream I did. I took the world’s quickest shower, and then piled on my warmest gear to stop shivering. This is the first place we have stayed that did not have at least hot water. Also, this was not what I wanted to face after a day of walking in 20-30 temperatures. But, as St. Paul reminds us (I have learned to live both with and without) sometimes you just don’t get what you want. In fact, after a bit, I did stop shivering. No harm done (I guess). St. Ignatius pray for us.