Friday 25 September
The long and windy road through Rioja country. Gangs of grape pickers and tractor and trailers ferrying grapes. Still a long way to go.
Sunday 27 September
We have walked 255 km so far – still some a way to go. My back and feet are starting to suffer (plasters being used up quickly) but Warren is fairing well, carrying everything in his pouch – including a Go board. We walked out of La Rioja today and into Castille. The vineyards and red soils changed into arable fields.
Tuesday 29 September
A perigrinos day starts at about 5.30am with eager walkers packing and leaving, waking the rest of us up and so by 7am the dormitories are empty. We then walk in the dark, this morning through oak woods and then down through moorland, cows announcing themselves with donging bells, then past tinkling sheep flocks going out to graze. We walked in moonlight for an hour or so into a village where the bakery was opening and we had coffee and tortilla. We then walk until pm when we started looking for somewhere to sleep.
This is Warren toiling up hill through woodland on the way to the remote mountain monestary of San Juan de Oretaga 1080 m up in the Sierra de Orca (Goose Mountain).
As soon as we have a bed we layout our sleeping bags, have a shower, replaster our feet and wash the cloths we walked in and hang them out to dry, putting on our other set of clothes. Then we explore the area, eat either the pilgrim’s meal offered in remote areas or in town then back to auberge for locking up at 10 pm. All nationalities, ages and sexes sleeping together. Warren hoping for Go game tonight with the Korean chap in the bunk above me. Thank goodness for ear plugs and exhaustion!
Wednesday 30 September
Poor perigrinos tending to his blisters. I know how that feels. Warren is getting through our supply of micropore treating my blisters.
We haven’t met a jovial Dutchman yet, like Michael Sheen does in The Way but we have met an equivalent Irish man and a Dutch couple with a spectacular Swiss knife and a fantastic pharmacy – but they can not compete with us on the micropore front!
Walking on the maseta looks dead dull from a far (miles and miles of bugger all as cousin Jonman would say) but walking through it is a revelation. As dawn arrives the flat arable fields turn pink, the sun catches the windmills and the only sounds are the birds and the tapping walking poles.
The white track stretches out behind and before. A sudden descent and a village of cave houses is revealed tucked into the folds of the hill. In the valley bottom the river is flanked by poplars in early autumn tints and emerald green patches of irrigated alfalfa.