Logrono to Najera. “Un dia sin reir es un dia perdido “.
Unfortunately, given Carolyn’s current blister status, we certainly lost a few hours this morning. Who’d have thought my witty observations, normally greeted on this trip with carefree giggles, would today be met with baleful states and retorts such as “ Just shut up, please”. At least she said please.
And then……………After completing about 10k in the slowest time ever recorded by pilgrims with both legs, she decided to put her headphones on and play some music. The difference has been astonishing, and quite frankly gives rise to the unpleasant but perhaps unavoidable conclusion that substance abuse may have infiltrated the previously pure as the driven snow Camino environment. If she continues like this she’s going to have to provide a urine sample in Nareja. Either way, she’s been a wee soldier.
Andy has been asking about the significance of the scallop shell which is visible everywhere on the Camino. I am aware of two strands of information : (1) The scallop shell became the symbol of St James some time after his death when followers perceived a miracle to have occurred. The person who survived/ was saved was found surrounded by scallop shells. Most statues of St James, certainly in Spain, depict him carrying/wearing a scallop shell. (2)Our constant companions on the walk are the reassuring yellow scallop shell that sits inside a blue background and the yellow arrow. The stylised shell is the symbol of the Camino and comprises 9 strands, each of which represents one of the acknowledged Ways of Saint James. The yellow arrows have become the ultimate form of reassurance that we are still going in the correct direction. Our route is the Camino Frances, the most popular one. It is traditional to attach a shell to your bag, presumably as a means of being identified as a “pellegrino”. Some areas also personalise their Camino route shells, others just create beautiful versions of the shell. All help to make the journey that bit more interesting.
We arrived in Najera at about 5.30pm, our longest day so far, but considering the circumstances an outstanding, gutsy effort by young Carolyn. The final 6km or so were pretty nasty stone covered paths which are not nice to walk on at the best of times, but hellish when your foot is already a mess. She’s currently soaking in a bath right now, having gone off on one about discovering blister no.4 at the top of the toe beside the big toe (I believe that’s how foot experts reference it). Think I’ll give her some space for the present……
Today’s walk wasn’t as spectacular as some of the previous ones, albeit it was still very picturesque. Fields and fields of vineyards, the grapes close to maturity, lined the way. I sampled a few as we passed along and they were mostly quite sweet, apart from one that really sucked the cheeks in. I think we also passed 3 wine producing businesses, one very stylishly presented, the other two more like factories and not very attractive. This is, of course, the heart of the Rioja wine industry and it’s big business!
Before I finish I feel compelled to reply to eminent media critic Christine Conroy’s very cheeky comment on my previous life in education following her reading of my opus last night. I’ll have you know that I taught hundreds of Greenock children to write great and you have just went too far. There. That feels much better.
On that final note, today’s album track is “A Contemplation On Heavenly Things” (Egan/Moran) by Dermott Egan. It’s unique.