October 10

Another good walk today…about 14 miles to a very nice town called Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We left Najera at about 8 so it was already light out which was different than the last two days. As a result of leaving a bit later we saw more pilgrims along the way which was nice. Fr. Frank kept up with me the whole day…either he is getting faster or I am getting slower! We have had long days and I must say I am pretty tired. I have to give Frank a lot of credit for doing the whole 500 miles…two times!

The day was overcast until about noon and was a bit cooler than the other days. A few spits of rain but not enough to put the packa on. The last two days the vineyards seem to have had a lot more water and the vines were absolutely chuck full of grapes. They seemed a lot heartier than those of Puente la Reina and Estella. The last half of today’s walk included mostly rolling hills of plowed fields. The soil for the last four days has been a red clay which is beautiful from a distance but is quite slippery when wet and fills my clothes with reddish brown dirt. It is amazing how brown the water is when I do my daily wash in the sink. I won’t lie, I am loving the overall experience but am a little sick of spending two hours a day washing my clothes by hand and drying them with the hair dryer!

We made good time and arrived in town by 2 pm today. It is a really nice town and I am in a really nice hotel, a parador, which is an upscale hotel in a VERY old building. Not all cities along the Camino have one of these and so I thought I should give it a try. It is beautiful, clean and opulent compared to the other accommodations over the last 10 days! No need for the sleeping bag tonight! What a difference a day makes, these towns are completely different. It seems a lot more than 14 miles away, it seems worlds away!

Tomorrow is my last day of walking and I am taking a bus to Burgos tomorrow night.  I will spend part of the day Sunday seeing Burgos and then will take a train to Madrid. My flight leaves for Chicago Monday morning.

I hope to see a few pilgrims that I have met along the way but haven’t crossed paths with over the last few days. It would be nice to be able to say goodbye and to wish then luck on the rest of their journey. It is surprising how you can get “attached” to people you hardly know on the Camino. I think it must be the bond of sharing the same experience but it is fun to see the same people every few days. The people I have met are all really nice and are genuinely concerned about how others are doing. This morning I saw one woman I met on the first night and then a few different days along the way but who I have not seen for the last few days. Her name is Valerie from Canada and we were both really excited to see each other and gave each other a big hug. Hope to see her and others before leaving tomorrow.

I will miss the Camino but am also excited to get back home to see Steve.