Day 9: Sansol – Logroño

I got in bed later than planned last night. As I was sitting outside, enjoying a beer before dinner, two young Italian guys (I guess they’re in their very early 20’s), showed up on their bicycles with huge fanfare. Samuel and Marco had started their Camino Tuesday in Pamplona – and they plan to finish in 15 days, cycling the route to Santiago (there are indeed many people doing the route on bicycles).
The two youngsters travelled for two days from Milan to Pamplona, sleeping in their car enroute. They picked up their rental bikes in Pamplona, and left their car there. They will drop the cycles in Santiago, and then take a train or bus back to Pamplona to fetch their car.

Their first night on the Camino they spent in a tent at the side of the road. Last night they treated themselves and stayed in the same albergue as me – they are apparently on the smallest of budgets.

When they arrived yesterday the two looked exhausted – they admit that they haven’t really cycled much before – and immediately ordered beer. They joined me at the table, and upon hearing that I was from South Africa, Samuel loudly shouted to everyone around, ‘Jesus Christ, this man is from Africa!’

We had a great night, and the beer flowed. At some stage the two youngsters wanted cigarettes, so Samuel quickly cycled the 2km’s to the nearest shop that sells cigarettes.
It’s weird in Spain: you can go through a whole town, even one big enough to have a supermarket, without being able to get a place that sells cigarettes. Apparently, shops have to apply for a licence to sell tobacco, and if it is believed that children are also part of the shop’s clientelle, they simply won’t get a licence. At some bars they have vending machines, but you cannot just go to the machine and buy cigarettes! You first have to present yourself to the barman, so that he can see that you aren’t under age. He then uses a remote to activate the machine, and you can proceed with your purchase.

I went to bed at about 21:30 – I’m not sure what time Marco and Samuel went to bed, but when I left the albergue at 07:45 this morning, they were still asleep.

At about 10:00 I could hear them approaching, forever laughing and joking. When they saw me they went past with a loud, ‘Hola Miseur Andreas! Buen Camino!’.
I really enjoyed their company. They reminded me of how carefree, and sometimes irresponsible, I was too at their age.

I woke up around 02:30 with stomach cramps, and feared that I had some bug, or maybe ate something that was off. 
I nursed myself throughout the morning – taking in lots of water, with a double dose of Rehidrat. By around 10:30 I felt a lot better – I believe I was just dehydrated after yesterday’s heat, and last night’s beer.

The walk today was okay – 22km’s.

From Sansol one climbs slightly past the hamlet of Torres del Río. My mind was occupied with so many issues, it felt as though I had to fix the world (and my own life) within an hour (just my own life will take more time!).
And then, out of the blue, appeared this resting place, with a small fruit and drinks stall, and rock-art sculptures (Lloyd, not like Deon’s stupid ones!)

It was as though the universe just knew what I needed. I spent a few minutes there, enjoying a cold drink, and left there in a much better mood.

Onwards, towards the town of Viana, the way was fairly easy, yet extremely hot. Viana is the last town in the Navarra region. I had a tuna sandwhich and beer, and was joined again by the lady from Italy that I met two days ago.

We soldiered on towards Logroño – about 10km’s from there.

I arrived in Logroño at around 14:30. The heat really makes it very difficult to walk in the afternoon.
My feet gave me less hassle today but, towards the end they acted up again.
The first few days I was still very paranoid – every time I felt my feet, I had to stop and check for a blister. One needs to understand that your feet will become sore and tired – and then complain. It’s got nothing to do with blisters – it’s just your feet letting you know what utter arsehole you are.

Speaking of blisters: I’ve seen them all! Though I haven’t yet had a blister myself, there are two Irish girls (university students, I think) who have had the worst luck with blisters – I call them the Blister Sisters!
I’ve only seen their feet, but if the way their feet blister is any indication, I don’t want to know where else they have blisters.

Shame, they’ve taken a liking in me, and constantly ask my advice with their feet. Yesterday, the one, Jemma, asked if I’d help wrap her foot in tape, and was quite upset when I said I don’t touch other people’s feet. I tried to explain that it’s not just her feet I won’t touch, but feet in general, but she found little comfort in my explanation.

This morning they approached me from behind on the path, and I just heard, ‘Oi, hallo Mister Won’t-touch-feet-weirdo’.
We had a great laugh – they even said they decided to come and visit me in South Africa. I hope their feet keep up – you’ve got no idea how unlucky they’ve been with blisters.

My albergue tonight is nice and clean, but the bathroom extremely impractical. I share a room with a group of young American girls, and a one legged man (I shit you not!) – had he been a girl the Camino could have fulfilled another of my dreams, but that aside. The bathroom is such that one needs to get undressed in the common space before entering the shower.
While I have no problem with the young ladies getting undressed in front of me, I have sympathy with them having to look at a naked middle aged guy. In a sign of either admiration or empathy, they bought me a beer. They’re cute and friendly, but oh so stupid!

Our albergue also doesn’t have a washing machine – so, I still need to go do my laundry (by hand).

Tomorrow I have a tough day. 31km’s between Logroño and Nájera, with only one stop (town) in between.

Buen Camino!
Andries

Ps. Don’t stagnate – lubricate! Vaseline’s your mate.

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