Early Friday morning, we left Puente la Reina, a town that takes its name from the romanesque bridge built on the queen's command in medieval times to allow pilgrims safe passage. We glanced back to take a photo of the still sleeping village at dawn and then set out for Estella.
The path was hilly but rarely steep and at many times we found ourselves walking on the old Roman built road or crossing a Roman bridge. Those Romans built things to last. We also are learning that it is not only the paths between towns that are steep. You don't just pass through a Spanish town, you climb the town. (see photos)
In Lorca, about 7.5 miles into the day's walk, we stopped for a quick break at a cafe. As we crossed through the town square on our way out of town, we passed a gathering crowd of people wearing matching t-shirts and carrying musical instruments. A stage was set up in the square and they appeared to be preparing for a town fiesta. As we turned onto the Camino path we heard the band strike up and begin to march. They were marching our direction so Dad and I ducked into an alley to let them pass, then we marched along behind them until their path and ours diverged.
We paused at the foot of a roman bridge to eat our 'bocadillas' (sandwiches bought at the local cafe early in the morning) for lunch; and made our weary way into Estella.
The end of day ritual of finding a bed again required an uphill climb. We were fortunate to get two of the last available bunks that night. A few minutes after we collapsed on our bunks, a pilgrim came in with a mattress to put on the floor as there were no more beds in the albergue.
We ate the 'Pilgrim Menu' (salad or pasta to start, choice of fish, pork, or chicken with french fries as second course, and yogurt, fruit salad, or ice cream to finish), then wobbled on sore feet back up the hill to bed.
Up at 5 am, packing in the dark because other pilgrims were still asleep. A quick breakfast of bread, butter and jam, a stop at the panaderia for the day's bocadillas, and we were off again by 7:30.
The trek to Los Arcos was the gentlest slope and least rocky we've had so far. The second half of the 14 mile day, however, was without shade and without passing through any towns. We sheltered in the shadow of a tall stack of hay where we joined three Frenchmen who were having their lunch there as well.
We had made good time and arrived at the edge of Los Arcos at about 2:30 pm.
Walking into a Spanish town mid-afternoon feels like an old western film. The streets are deserted. All is silent except for the sound of the wind. Dust devils kicking up are the only movement one sees.
We were parched from the long walk across the sun's anvil and were greatly relieved to find a small shaded alcove at the very edge of town. There were benches to rest on and vending machines with ice cold drinks. Dad had a coke and I had water. Cool, clear water.
After the last two days' push to find beds, we decided to book into a hotel in Los Arcos. We have enjoyed the private bathroom. I took a shower and two baths. Bliss.
We went downstairs for dinner in the hotel restaurant and found ourselves in an episode of Fawltey Towers. The waiter arrived at our table to announce,"There is problema en cocina. Only no chicken." Confusion reigned for nearly 10 minutes while Dad, I and a nice Irish lady named Evelyn tried to communicate with this ranting Spaniard and his resignedly calm female co-worker, his voice growing ever louder and more emphatic, she kneeling between me and Evelyn trying to whisper and point at menu items to confirm whether they were available and WHAT exactly they contained. In the end, we each managed to order and then just sat and laughed until tears were streaming.
Meal accomplished, Dad and I turned in and slept well. Today is Sunday. the forecast is for temperatures in the 90's and the trail has two very steep and treacherous descents with no place for shade or water; so, we've decided to travel this section by bus to Logrono. We'll have another night in a hotel there then set out in foot again on Monday morning.
I've prevailed upon Dad to do shorter distances each day for the next week- to give me time to build more strength and get back to 100% health.
Love to all. Hasta mañana.
P.S. Looking back at the photos I see that I forgot to mention the fountain that offered a choice - water or wine. As we were passing it at 8 a.m. Dad and I opted to take only a photo.
Also, the picture of my pack was taken after our climb in the rain - to show the mud that we've accumulated.
P.P.S. The poodle is one of the pilgrims on the Camino. I'm told his name is Einstein. He accompanies a young man whom we have not met.