8.40pm A good night’s sleep , waking at 7.00am and on the road by 8.00am. Some of the German contingent were already marching out the door , headlamps ablaze , at silly o’clock in the morning. They usually arrive at their destination early afternoon and pitch camp. My approach is the exact opposite in that I am usually one of the last to leave the Refugio and amble along until I find somewhere to stop for breakfast. Then I continue to amble all day stopping frequently for a chat and a glass or two of Rioja en route. This means I am usually one of the last and most dishevelled looking Pilgrims to hit town in the evening. This was certainly the case this evening when I arrived at Atapuerca at 7.30pm. This was a few km longer than planned as there was ” no room at the Inn” at the previous village of Ages. We have left the vineyards of La Rioja behind and are now walking on paths through fields full of stubble and sunflowers that are past their bloom and ready for harvesting.
Around Midday I came upon Sacha and Beth having a pathside picnic and they kindly invited me to join them. Turns out Beth is a paediatrician back home in San Francisco so we had a good chat about the way the health services are run in the UK and US. We walked on together and met our first Pilgrim walking with a donkey. This young Swiss lad had walked to Santiago ,with his donkey , all the way from Basle and was now walking back home ! It was going to take him over a year to do this. Not long afterwards we met another Pilgrim walking with equine company. He was a Spanish guy who was walking with his ” family ” , a Shetland Pony named ” Pearlita ” and a parrot named ” China “. The parrot was travelling in a cage on the donkey’s back. On one of the photos you can also see a brolly sticking out of one of the donkey’s packs. There is no shortage of characters out here on The Camino.
I saw the Japanese contortionist again today , she’s still blanking me.