The weather has started to cool and we've been walking under cloudy skies. We are glad for the cloud cover as most of the trails have been without shade and would have been very tough if the sun was out.
Out of Najera, we walked 15.1km (about nine miles) to Ciruena (there should be a tilde over that 'n'). It was a fairly steep climb into Ciruena and the city fathers must have been peregrinos because at the top of the hill, just at the city limit, they provide a resting place where weary pilgrims can put their feet up. I took a photo of a pair of German peregrinos with whom we've shared the road for many days.
From Cireuna, we took a short taxi ride into Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Once again, we arrived into a citywide fiesta. This was the fiesta of Gracias and St Jeronimo Hermosilla.
We visited the oficina de turismo and secured a room in the hospederia run by Cistercian nuns. As we made our way through the streets we ran into several pilgrim friends who had arrived before us. The lovely and kind Louise from Cork in Ireland led us to our hospederia where we checked in and did the ritual chores (shower and hand wash clothes).
Out on the streets again, we worked our way toward the restaurante recommended for lunch. Marching bands, parades with dancing children (playing castanets) and ambling dignitaries, blocked streets and, once we were seated near a second story window, serenaded our meal.
After lunch we joined the rest of the city in siesta. We woke again about 5 pm. At 6:30 we wandered into the church adjoining the abbey to listen to the nuns sing vespers. Then we were back outside wandering in search of dinner. Hmm, perhaps I should re-name this blog: Walk, Sleep, Eat.
We ran into Rick from San Mateo and Mike from Menlo Park who had been at the albergue in Orisson on our first night. They were thrilled to see Harold from Houston and the four of us found a nice little restaurant where we enjoyed huevos with jamon and pimientos (peppers) and lively conversation.
Dad and I were back to our room with heads on pillows by 9:30. At 11:00 pm, the fireworks started. I sat up in bed, pulled back the curtain and watched the show from our window. Happily, it was not a long show and signaled the end of the partying. The streets below were quiet by 11:30 and I fell back to sleep easily.
This morning we left Santa Domingo early and walked through a series of tiny villages crossing into the region of Spain called Castilla. Let me just say that the Castillians want to be sure you know when you enter their province. They provide a HUGE signpost trail-side with a map showing the portion of the way that lies in Castilla. (see photo)
As we passed through the villages, there were places set out just for weary pilgrims to rest and have a cup of water. In one, I stepped into the church (every village has a church) and was amazed at the opulence of the altar and the organ.
We stopped at a cafe to visit with a few other pilgrim friends (including Elmarie from Australia). Then, we planted our walking sticks to lift ourselves out of the chairs and followed the yellow brick road (literally- see the photo) on into Viloria de la Rioja where we are stopped for the night.
When we arrived at the albergue, we found two young women resting on its terrace. They are pilgrims from South Korea. Dad told the that he had been in Korea 60 years ago and they both nodded, bowed and said, "We respect you. Thank you." Then one of them went to her pack and came back with a small beaded charm which she set in front of Dad saying, "This is my gift to you. The symbol is Korean for happiness, good fortune, and wealth."
They asked why we were on the Camino and we told our story again. Dad asked them why they were on camino. One said she didn't know. The other said that she had many prayers for family and for a friend with cancer. She also said that she was unmarried and hoped to find a husband and make a family. Dad told her he hoped so too and that, as it happens, today is the day, 65 years ago, that he met his wife. I think we all took it as an auspicious sign. With much laughter and mutual picture-taking the two young women went on their way.
Tomorrow we plan to walk to Belorado - a short walk (only about 5 miles). By Sunday, we expect to be in Burgos, the city where El Cid is buried. Buses will be involved in part of this next stage in order to avoid a stretch with several steep ascents and descents and no towns for rest stops.
We are both healthy and our feet are doing well. Tomorrow is the International Day of Peace (and Ric's birthday - happy birthday sweetheart!).
video of parades: http://youtu.be/clNRUDl_KWE