A Wine Fountain, Foot Fish, and a Lesson for the Turtle



Things began swimmingly in Irache at 7:30 AM. To my surprise, the wine fountain was operating! This is an amenity for pilgrims. Some Koreans had filled entire water bottles with the wine that flowed from the taps…. not really kosher, as everyone is supposed to have a cup, glass or swig of it. There were only a few drops left being coaxed out of it by a German man, who was kind enough to share a tiny bit with me. Perhaps those two tablespoons had to do with my lack of discretion later in the day.

I had been walking comfortably for days at turtle pace. My legs, feet and general health have been fine. Since I leave around 6 AM, I have often completed my walking day by 11 or 12. I had chosen my albergue and set down my pack, when I ran into two spry Spanish gentleman, both over 70.
“It’s too early to stop,” they said. “It’s only 10 km more.” Scott does this sometimes, but his schtick is that “it’s only 5 more minutes.” Silly me, I took them up on it. Their age must have influenced me; surely I could do as well as two happy geezers. But they were Hares, the nemesis of The Turtle.
A part of me wanted to see if I could move at a faster pace. I found out later that the distance signs for hikers were actually wrong. It was 15 km more… ten miles more after I had already completed my day. No shade, no cafes, no albergues in between. Just heat-shimmering golden fields.
Heat really affects the feet. At the end of my day I was exhausted and, for the first time, blistered. I had hiked 21.2 km, or about 14 miles, with a full backpack. I never did this much distance in a day before, not even in my teens or 20s backpacking.
By avoiding walking mid day, and only walking to my comfort level, I had avoided blisters until that time. The albergue I ended up at was somewhat dirty and uncomfortable, with a vaguely sleazy feeling. Most of the pilgrim dorms are very clean and businesslike. But it was good enough. I made a tomato salad in the kitchen and fell into bed.
The next day I walked in the morning to Torres del Rio, a fabulous little village with a spectacular Templar church, very Da Vinci code. It was truly gorgeous in its simplicity inside. The tower on top is not a bell tower, but a lighthouse in the middle of the fields, to light the way for pilgrims!


When I saw that one albergue offered a bed, an evening meal including 2 courses, desert and wine, and access to a hotel swimming pool, I took them up on it for 20E. The hotel had a cleaner fish spa, so I let little fish nibble all the dead skin off for 15 minutes, then had a foot massage. (A video is on Facebook– I can’t post videos with this blogging setup. ) Then I swam… watery bliss!


My feet, for the time being, are healing. I’ll take a bus to Logrono and start from there. Hubris is a danger on the Camino. Listen to your own inner voice.
The teacher in me finds endless lectures devised from my own Camino to give you, dear reader. I suppose I shall do another post called Camino Lessons at another time, and spare you now. Buen Camino, Suzanne
P.S. To add insult to injury, I left my carefully selected all-purpose soap and hair conditioner in the sleazy albergue. A pilgrim with no soap is a little too close to a midlevel pilgrim for my taste! It’s a offering to the road gods, and will be missed.