Thursday, February 3, 2011

70's Hit "Reunited" Becomes Official Ringtone of Cyber Pilgrimage

Refurbished medieval bridge over Rio Saldo near Lorca.
The man serving coffee at our morning rest stop in Cirauqui looked oddly at us, then asked a question in Basque-accented Castilian, "¿Son ustedes los Americanos de Seattle?" "Sí," we replied, and after digging around at the cash register he produced a handwritten note from Team John that read, "If only you'd trained better you'd be with us tonight at Villamayor de Monjardin!"

Our compañeros had thrown down the gauntlet -- if we wanted to keep up we'd need to pull a 30 km day and make it to the hill town of Villamayor, that lovely village that sits on a castle-topped peak overlooking the green vineyards of the lush valley below. 

Fortunately that morning we'd left early from Puente La Reina. After walking back down the hill towards town as though we would recross the six-arched Romanesque bridge, we turned right just before the bridge and found a yellow arrow to guide us back onto the Camino. Puente La Reina was an example of what many of us had come to Spain to see --  a Spanish town that still bears the marks of the Camino, in which a person can squint their eyes shut and easily imagine themselves 800 years in the past. 

We said our goodbyes to the medieval town and walked the sidewalk to the outskirts of the village, then headed on a gravel path past the ruins of Monasterio Bogota to the village of Mañeru. There we entered what clearly is Spanish wine country, or more correctly, wine-olive country. The rolling hills of this region hold vineyard after vineyard, punctuated by ancient olive groves. The vista ahead, of the well-preserved medieval hill town of Cirauqui, offered a romantic moment as we realized we'd left West Coast USA far behind.

Dana and Greta exercising temperance
at Bodegas Irache near Estella
After our morning coffee and note-reading from Hasty Team John we settled into our walking pace for the day. Though it was tempting to take the N-111 road out of Cirauqui, a much more direct route to Lorca, we opted to follow the Camino as marked and were delighted to cross the Rio Salda over a medieval stone bridge. The villages of Lorca (where we stopped to do our pilgrim shopping at La Bodega del Camino) and Villatuerta passed by before noon. We set our sights for Estella, wondering if we'd stop there or if we'd have enough energy to meet the challenge of Villamayor.

I regret to say that we rushed our way through the treasures of Estella. The Palacio de los Reyes de Navarra (now an impressive museum) and the Church of San Pedro de la Rua were hours-long visits that we crunched into only a few minutes each. We lunched at an outdoor cafe at the Plaza de los Fueros, tanked up our water bottles, and picked up the Camino across the bridge from the Plaza. By now we'd walked 22 kms and realized an additional eight kms on tired feet would be required if we were to meet Team John at Villamayor.

"...and it feels so good."
Just out of town we shared in another pilgrim delight. For years the Bodega Irache winery has offered free wine to passing pilgrims. Fortunately, Dana had a cup with him and we passed it among us as we marveled at the winery's hospitality. After a few sips our group was noticeably more cheery than before, and after Ayegui the last few kilometers to Villamayor slipped easily by. We climbed the steep sidewalk into Villamayor and found our albergue, only to discover -- no Team John. But when Erin Elaine headed to the little alimentación (store), we could hear a squeal of delight all the way back at the albergue. Erin had spotted Jackie and Alison! Team John was in town, at the other albergue, and was stunned and impressed to see the resurgent Team Charles pull even again. Our cyber pilgrim group was Reunited!

No comments:

Post a Comment