Although we repeatedly told ourselves that we had no set goal as to where we would end up on the trail – that may have been true for the day-to-day – but we did secretly have an ultimate goal to arrive in Najera for our finish. Now with only 30 K to go, and relatively flat paths ahead of us, we were confident that we would achieve our target.
To add to our self-assurance, we had a fantastic start to the day. At a small breakfast café, with absolutely amazing pastry, we caught up with Mimi and Sarah (frequent roommates) as well as Steve and Kim (who we had met during our first night in Saint-Jean and were hoping to run into again). It was like ‘old home week’ and the conditions were set for a perfect day!
For no reason in particular, it turned out that the day was, in fact, not perfect. Nothing horrible – but nothing great. And Richard, who seldom complains, complained a great deal. The paths, while flat, were very rocky, and not a good match for Richard’s Canadian West Coast (sandy trail) hiking boots. On top of that, our route was mostly alongside a highway – definitely not Richard’s thing. Finally, as fate would have it, Richard’s Camino Trail Guidebook (which he both relied upon and adored) fell out of his backpack and could not be found. We also went for quite a long stretch without lunch. After the Eugene Levy fiasco we had not purchased a sandwich to go – so now we were left with our emergency Tic Tacs (aka breath mints)!
The day did improve. The Angels, as well as Mimi and Sarah, were at our Auberge that evening – and we ran into Steve and Kim again at dinner. The Camino unites its walkers in powerful ways, and that bond is incredible. Still, Richard’s sore feet, and my blisters, lingered.
You know that look when lovers glance at each other and history changes? We were always going to walk this trail for nine days. It had been solidly planned. Then, that evening in our auberge, as we prepared our things for the day ahead, I jokingly said to Richard: “Instead of walking to Santo Domingo tomorrow, we could take the bus to Bilbao one day early.” Then, without any other words spoken between us, that facetious statement became the plan. In the morning, we went through our usual trail-preparation routine, but instead of following the Camino shells to Santo Domingo, we had a leisurely breakfast…and then waited for the bus to Bilbao.
Perhaps it was because we already had our bus route to Bilboa sketched out in our heads, or because of the long list of things that we wanted to see there. Perhaps it was our jointly sore feet, or simply the fact that we both knew the end was near. Whatever the reason, I folded up my hiking poles and we boarded the bus. There was no turning back.
Auberge el Pegrino, Najera, c/San Fernando, 90, 26300, Najera, LaRioja, +34 941 896 027, 10 euros
Feature Photo: Richard and me with the Angels — Grace, Karen and Yvonne (Left to Right)
Sarah and Mimi
Steve and Kim
Birte (we last saw here the day before in Navarrete, but wished to include her here)