Estella to Los Arcos.
“It is always wise to seek confirmation of the depth before diving head first into the swimming pool of life”.
Last night I super glued my feet to the floor of our hotel bedroom. Before you jump to the conclusion that this is some ridiculous pilgrim’s modern day version of self flagellation please allow me to explain. Prior to our departure I was conscious of the need to ensure that my feet would be well protected from the constant threat of blisters (well, I mean – look at this whole Blistardo debacle. It now thinks it’s part of the family). Foolishly, as it turns out, I sought advice on Amazon, reading reviews of the most effective anti-blister measures available on line. The one that did it for me was Tincture of Benzoine (nope, I’d never heard of it either). It was described as highly effective with a great smell, so I ordered 2 bottles. The reality is it stinks. It takes ages of scrubbing to rid your hands of the smell, never mind your feet. If you don’t act quickly I’m convinced it’ll bind them together for eternity. It’s a miracle I managed to pry my feet loose from the floor before …..well, you know – had it not been for my cobra like reactions I’d still be rooted to the spot right now . I wouldn’t recommend it. All of which meant that this morning it was back to smearing my feet in petroleum jelly (99p in Savers) prior to setting forth.
Blistardo now has some company on Carolyn’s foot. Two new arrivals are threatening to turn her right foot into one giant blister : Lord of the Blisters ; The Sound of Blister; Pretty Blister ; Four Blisters and a Blister………this is turning into an epic. I must say that despite the mess her foot’s in she performed heroically, marching purposefully towards Los Arcos without a word of complaint ( actually, was it Carolyn I was walking with today………?) We reached our destination, which was actually 23k rather than 20k as I’d been led to believe, in excellent time, and our spirits were high as we entered the hotel.
And that’s where the next instalment in Carolyn’s Lucky White Heather Adventures unfolded. “ Welcome to you both. You have one bag that we have put in your room. “Hah! ( nervous laughter ). I think you mean two bags.” “I am sorry, there was only one bag delivered to the hotel….“I think you’ll find …….( Carolyn’s voice rising a couple of octaves )……… so off we all go to the room to establish that only my bag has been delivered and Carolyn must remain in her fetching but sweaty gear, and, of course, keep wearing her dusty, clumpy, heavy boots until further notice. The good news is I managed to drag her off the unfortunate receptionist before she’d drawn blood while crying “ THIS ISN’T THE ANSWER, CAROLYN!” and, in the true Camino spirit, the lady agreed not to press charges. As I write this, I am hugely relieved to report that that the bag has now arrived at the hotel. The proprietor actually came round the corner to personally let us know! A very nice man who currently has one arm in a sling. Probably terrified Carolyn was up for breaking the other one.
We are back in the positive zone, sipping Sangria in the late afternoon sunshine. Carolyn wants to buy the receptionist some chocolates as a peace offering. All is well with the world.
We had set off from Estella at 8.30 this morning and arrived at the famous Fuente del Vino in Monasterio de Irache, where they’ve got the free wine tap, within the hour. Being a pragmatic kind of guy, I’d arrived fully prepared with an empty 1L bottle to collect my sample. As I stepped up and placed it under the tap there was an audible collective gasp from behind me : “ You can’t fill that thing up to the top…”( Americans ) ; “ Just a little amount…..” (Dutch, I’d guess). While I assumed the “What’s it to you pal?” look ( they were mostly female), I was escorted away by my wife (in more characteristic, reasoned mode), before it was anywhere near half full. Bummer. Lovely place, amazing idea. It wouldn’t last a day in Scotland.
The rest of the route was relatively flat and straightforward, with some cracking views of ancient looking buildings sitting at the top of dramatic hills, golden fields as far as the eye could see, the usual collection of churches, all beautiful in their own way (those we could get into) and the Fuente de Los Moros, a 13th century fountain with a “distinctive Mozarabic double arch”. Sunlight was shimmering in the corner where the water cascaded in, which was quite a sight. It was , all in all, a right good walk!
Today’s album track is “Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy. You had to be there.
Tomorrow is the final stage of phase one of the journey, when we head for Logrono. Slowly but surely!