Jim Goes to Spain for a Winter Camino travel blog


My most recent walk was from Estella to Los Arcos. Rolling hills, distant views of peaks and cliffs, and lush green fields of what could be winter wheat that make it feel like a cold May. Walking was mostly comfortable. After a stop of any length, it'd take several painful steps for my ailments to settle in and just about disappear.

I managed to treat my blisters for mostly pain-free steps. My motivation was that I had been told in Estella that there was no clinic and that I needed to go to Los Arcos. When I entered Los Arcos, a services display had the longed for red cross.

At the town center, a fellow I'd encountered a few times called me from the door of a bar-restaurant. He let me know how bad I looked. Using my ten Spanish phrases, my translator app, gesture, guess, and mime, my friend let me know he's a retired physician. We found out from the bar keeper that the Los Arcos clinic is closed for the winter.

My new acquaintance now started to encourage me to take the bus. Look, there's the schedule right here, and the bus stop is right outside, it's less than €3, etc.

The 3x daily bus was due in 30 minutes. One choice was to find the local albergue, check in, clean up, etc, and deal with things the next day. Another was to take a bus into a city where there really are services.

So I took the bus. Online, I found a dirt cheap pensione that turns out to be charming and right on the Camino route though town. Of course I took a cab from the bus station. My English-free pensione hostess also let me know how bad I look.

I think I may be victim of half-information. In regular walking season, governments sponsor pilgrim clinics. There had to be a doctor somewhere in Estella, though not in Los Arcos. So people may have been thinking of those walking season clinics, and not regular clinics, even though I thought I was asking in general terms. There is a hospital in Logrono if something bad like infection happens.

I'll rest here for one or two full days. I see in my book that there are open albergues that would make for shorter days ahead. I'll try that and see how I do. I've been to Santiago four times, and my willingness to suffer to get there is frankly minimal.

If you believe in signs and omens (and I'm not skeptical of them), interpret the following for me.

In Pamplona, I decided to pay my respects in the Cathedral. When I stepped into the door, I was confronted by a man waving huge, ancient keys in front of my face and saying "Closed, closed." Sure enough, I was scooted outside, and the door was slammed and locked.

Just outside Estella is a large wine producer. The winery is right on the Camino route. For years it has offered a "wine fountain," at which pilgrims and fellow travelers can refresh themselves. Turn the spout and fill your cup. I arrived shortly before sunrise. The water spout worked, but there was no wine from the wine spout. No wine for you!

A retired physician who has befriended me on the Camino shows me the bus schedule. He points at my watch. Next bus arrives before the local albergue opens!

Is someone trying to tell me something?



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