7.10 am A restless night on the mats. Mine was situated between a middle aged Mexican lady and our chain smoking diminutive Catalan friend. All sorts on noises emanated from him , the least offensive of which was the coughing and wheezing. I would guess he is around 70 yrs , about 5ft tall , bald and bearded , very wrinked and has a bad squint. He looked like an elderly Hobbit curled up in a ball on his mat.
This was a small Refugio run by 2 volunteers ( Hospitaleros ) , one lady from Seattle and another from Spain. The Hospitaleros all do 2 weeks volunteering at a time and you have to have walked The Camino at least once to qualify to perform this role. This Refugio was my first to have a strong religious feel about it . We ate a communal meal last night before which we said Grace . There is no request for payment for your stay or for the dinner and breakfast. They do suggest a “Donativo” in a box when you depart ( see photo ). There was also a room set aside for snorers which is the first time I’ve come across this. A Swedish lad who has walked all the way from Orleans in France was the only occupant last night. He also intends to walk all the way back to Orleans ! There was a very nice older American lady ( now living in Freemantle ) here last
night who is the Mother of a famous Australian musician named John Butler. The German couple got very excited as they are big fans and had downloaded his albums to their IPod to listen to on The Camino.
After the restless night in Viana I left the Refugio around 7.45am and passed the emphysematous Spanish Hobbit having his first drag of the day. I walked alone for the first few km and left the Navarra region behind , crossing into La Rioja , the famous wine growing area. Just before reaching the City of Logrono I wandered off down a riverside path for half a mile or so before I realised that the yellow arrows had disappeared. I think I was distracted by the rising fish in the river ( The Ebro ). Not for the first time on this trip I wished I had brought a travel rod and a few flies. I regained my bearings and followed the ” flecha amarilla ” back into the City proper. Logrono is quite a large city ( pop 130,000 ) and is the capital of La Rioja region. Not far from here is Clavijo , the site of the famous battle where , legend has it , Santiago appeared on his white charger and turned the battle in favour of the Spaniards over the occupying Moors in 844 , thus earning the epithet ” Santiago the Moorslayer “. Not the saintliest of titles , one has to admit.
As I entered the city I bumped into Jolanta , the Polish lady who’d complimented me on my snoring skills back in Estella. We walked on together visiting Iglesia Santiago and taking a few photos. I’ve posted a few including one of the impressive facade where you can see , right at the top , a statue of Santiago riding his horse.
We walked together for the rest if the day and Jolanta told me a bit about her life. She grew up in Częstochowa in Poland , which is a place of pilgrimage in Poland .Housed there in a monastery is a revered icon ” The Black Madonna” . The legend is that it was painted by St Luke on a cedar table top taken from the house of the Holy Family and it has been credited with a lot of miracles , hence the it’s association with pilgrimage. Jolanta, like so many other Polish , is now domiciled in the UK. She can talk for Poland and was great company today.
At one point today we were passing a house when the old lady who lived there offered to stamp our Credentials ( The Pilgrims Passport ) . There seem to be plenty of places on the way ( other than the Refugios ) where you can get extra stamps in your Credential including churches and other places of interest. I’ve gotten a bit ” trainspotterish” about it and my Credential is half full already. I’ve even developed ” stamp envy ” when I see a particularly decorous stamp in another Pilgrim’s Credential. My obsessional tendencies are not far below the surface.