Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Aragones Route - Ruesta to Sanguesa to Monreal

On October 15, I walked 21 kilometers so Sanguesa.

I walked alone. 
The French couple and Andrew, the American man 
were sleeping in and waiting for breakfast.
I was anxious to get on the trail.

It was a beautiful misty morning as I walked through the ruins,
over the old bridge spanning the river, 
and past a campground. 
A deep rumbling snore broke the silence.
One lonely tent, bright orange, was pitched under the pines.
Another other pilgrim was getting some morning sleep.

After a while, I began climbing. 
The dirt road wound around and switched back for a little over 7 kilometers, 
up through a pretty pine forest.
The air was crisp.
The birds were singing.
The sun felt good on my head.
It was very lonely but happy walking 
and I didn't see a soul the entire morning.

Once at the top of the hill, I found myself on a plateau 
with a spectacular view of the valley below.
Photo by Traveltroll
After passing the little town of Urdiales,
I passed through fields, plowed and ready for winter.  
The plowed fields and the smell of cows 
reminded me of the San Joaquin Valley where I was born. 
The scent was comforting. 
I've laughed in the past when Joe has held his nose
when we pass through farmland.
To me, the smell is the smell of home.
I love it.
I jokingly call it "Portagee Perfume!"

The wheat in these fields had been harvested, 
and all that was left to see was a golden stubble.

After a while a cold wind began blowing.
It blew straight on from the direction I was walking, 
and with it came sharp grains of sand.  
The sand burned my face and got into my eyes.
There was no way to avoid it!

I wrapped my head with a scarf, 
like a desert man,
with only my eyes showing.
I walked bent over, the top of my head to the sandstorm, 
and prayed for some safety glasses,
remembering how my prayers for a water bladder had been answered.
Today, God wasn't in a giving mood. 

I was so happy to see Sanguesa!
The albergue was easy to find.
There was a note on the door, 
telling people to choose a bed.
The hospitalero would return later to collect the money.

Sanguesa has a nice little albergue. 
The beds weren't shoved too tightly together 
and there were windows at each end of the room. 
I chose a bed behind a wooden screen so I'd have at least a small bit of privacy.
I showered and washed my clothes.
I didn't think they'd dry this night, as it was quite cold.
I found some drying racks and hung the clothes next to the heater. 
I kept my fingers crossed. 
There's nothing worse than cold, damp clothes on a cold, damp morning!

Soon, other pilgrims began arriving.
First the French couple, 
then Andrew. 
Then a young German pilgrim with a foot injury.

We asked around and found a pilgrim clinic where he was able to see a doctor. 
Turns out it was a strain. 
They wrapped it up and gave him ibuprofin 
and advised him to stop walking for a few days. 
I'm not sure he did that.
Many pilgrims injure themselves by pushing too hard,
trying to walk too many kilometers or walking too fast.
It's best to savor the Camino the same way one should savor life.. slowly. 
There's no rush. 
Not even for beds. 
The Camino will provide.
It has proven itself over and over.

The kitchen here was well equipped.
We three M's made a collective trip to the market
and cooked dinner in. 
It was so good to just stay inside, 
out of the cold wind, and visit, 
sharing food and wine with other pilgrims,
learning more about each other and about our journeys. 

I learned the French couple were on their second Camino. 
I learned Andrew was on his first Camino.
He was having difficulties with his bank. 
For some reason they were holding his cash 
and he was really having to watch his euros!

The hospitalero arrived and informed us
 once the wind began in that region, it persisted. 
He felt we would be foolish to walk the next day. 
He told us we'd be walking straight into the sandstorm.

We chose to take a chance.
The next morning the 3 M's left for Monreal. 
Michelle and Michael and Myself. 

The wind was howling and it didn't take long
for us to realize the hospitalero had been right in his assessment.  
We made it as far as Monreal. 

There, we found shelter in the bar, 
had coffee and reassessed our plans.
Learning there was a bus leaving in one hour 
that would hook us up to the Camino Frances.  
We decided to catch that bus.  

A 1.50 Euro bus ride ended my few days on the Aragones.

Once again I was unable to complete my journey.
It's beginning to feel like a pattern.

I still need to complete the VDLP, the Norte,and the Aragones.
What is it with me and these incomplete Camino routes?
Are they just excuses for me to return to Spain?
I am most definitely in love with that country and its people.

At any rate, I can't wait to go back and walk it again. 
Next time I'll start at the beginning and walk all the way to Eunate. 

Next time...a familiar Pilgrim phrase...
NEXT time...

The Camino is funny that way. 
You arrive at Santiago exhausted and thankful to be going home. 
You think, "Ok.. so that was fun, but I will NEVER do this again!"  
Then next morning you wake up with no place to walk and it just doesn't feel right.
It bothers you a little. 
But, you have a flight to catch.  
Once home, your friends notice a difference.
What happened to you out there? 
What do you mean you're selling everything?
What do you mean you don't need 3 cars and 5 televisions?!  
What do you MEAN you're throwing away those high heels
and that bottle of expensive perfume!?

Then, 2 weeks later, 
you are planning your next walk. 
It just hits you... you MUST return! 

You think I'm kidding?
Ok.. call me 2 months after your Camino 
and we'll chat about it over a beer.

For now,
I heartily suggest you check out Sil's blog on her Aragones trek.  
She finished what I did not
and has done a fantastic job of describing this trail.
The photos are beautiful 
and her writing gives you a unique feeling for this walk. 
Her blog begins here... Enjoy!

See my AnnieWalkersCamino website at 
for more information about
Guided Walks on the Camino Santiago 
and on other Pilgrimage Trails of Europe

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