Puente La Reina to Estella
“Focus on the day that lies in front of you; everything else can wait”.
Before I talk about today, I have to mention some things of note that slipped my mind yesterday. I failed to mention that we walked through a wind farm, which sat at the top of the hills we ascended on leaving Pamplona. These wind turbines are, in my experience, either loved or loathed. I myself have always felt that there is something quite elegant about them, that they make the landscape more interesting rather than being detrimental to it. Not everyone agrees, of course : no less a figure than that bastion of informed reason, the president of the USA himself, considers them an unacceptable eyesore that messes with his equilibrium. So there you go.
We also happened upon a huge field of sunflowers, tall and yellow in the bright sunshine. That sounds like a line from Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”, which is a bit of a bummer considering I thought I’d infiltrated the poetic zone. The odd thing was that loads of them had smiling faces. Some had sad faces, some had numbers
on them. It’s our version of crop circles. Where’s Eric Von Daneken(?) when you need him.
The final thing of note from yesterday was the metal sculpture at Alto de Perdon which is located at 750 metres above sea level (we read that in a book). It was erected in 1996 as a tribute to the pilgrims who walk the Camino and has featured in “The Way” and in the recent BBC series featuring Ed Byrne, Neil Morrisey etc. It has become an iconic Camino image over which we draped our Lisa’s Gift saltire. Some people just have no respect.
Anyway, on to today’s walk. 22k isn’t that far, and while there were lengthy sections that just kept rising, it should have presented far fewer difficulties than previous days. It was, however, extremely hot and dusty, Blistardo (more on that wee ratbag later) was being a major pain, I was reliably informed, and we were relieved to eventually get into our interestingly different hotel six and a half hours after setting off.
The scenery was once again spectacular, full of golden fields, extensive hills and immaculate villages. Any graffiti you come across tends to be political in content : “This is neither Spain nor France”, “We are no one’s subjects”, written in English presumably for the benefit of Camino walkers from all over the world. Strangely, you don’t see the Basque flag flying from anyone’s house, nor do you see the Spanish flag being flown anywhere other than outside the ayuntamiento (town hall) buildings.
We visited a very spartan church in Puente la Reina this morning which contained only one sculpture ; no flowers, no paintings, no statues of anyone other than this stunning work. It’s difficult to even define the content, but my guess is it’s a take on the “Pieta” image of the dead Christ being held by his mother. Whatever it depicts, it is very dramatic. (photo attached)
It would appear that following a vote that was held in the finest traditions of the Robert Mugabe national lottery (see “ Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James B. Robinson, or alternatively ask the co- author’s cousin, Brian “ economic polymath “ Robinson) for a detailed explanation, “ Blistardo” is the official name of Carolyn’s unwanted toe guest. Commiserations to all other entrants. You can at least console yourself with the knowledge that you were pretty much powerless in the face of the naked ambition that ultimately prevailed.
Tomorrow, Carolyn, Blistardo and I are off to Los Arcos. Only 20k !!! On the way there we’ll visit the wine fountain which dispenses free vino tinto to weary travellers – result! The first signs that we were entering the wine region were the extensive vineyards that we passed in the latter stages of today’s stroll. I’m not normally a red wine drinker, but I’ll be filling my water bottle nonetheless !
Today’s album track is “ You Are My Sunshine “ (the Yusuf Cat Stevens version), because the sun shone all day and we love this version of it. Until tomorrow!