Fiesta on the Camino- Walking with a Hole in the Shoe to Estella

What happens when the pilgrims don’t like to party?  It’s all here on Day 5 of Heather’s walk along the old pilgrim route “The Camino de Santiago”.


Probably a two-part chapter.

640 km to go and loving every minute.  If you’re not au fait with kms, times by 5/8 to get to miles.  (Sorry, not meant to be an insult.  But do it in your head, never trust a calculator).

So what was all that worry, planning, reading about prior to the journey?  How was I going to find the albergues (pilgrim hostels)?  … A flippin’ great sign over the door marked Álbergue, Heather!

How will I find food? Bread shop?  Supermarket?  Cafes?  It´s just Spain, not the Atacama desert.

What on earth was all that worry and planning about?  I hope I´ve learnt my lesson.

So, my mate David from Clitheroe turns up in Puente la Reina and I ask him his name.  Remember we’ve walked for about 2 hours together in broad Lancashire accents, outdoing each other in t’ t’ t’ -ing.  He says. “David?” and gives me a funny look.

“Oh, crikey”, I thought, and said. ” I’m so sorry, I didn’t recognise you without your rucksack”.   Oops!  I apologised the next evening and he said it was fine, he just thought I was three sheets to the wind anyway!

Right, so there´s a massive dining room in Puente La Reina.  Italians are singing lustily in 4-part harmony in the kitchen.  Tuning was somewhat suspect (James Rennie Choir sing marginally better in tune and they´ve all got severe learning difficulties) but the spirit was joyous, and the Italian spirit continued as they enjoyed their meal.  Miso and I (yes, I thought it was a soya food as well but she´s definitely called Miso and she´s Korean and living in Sweden to learn English (huh?) were being accosted by a young Italiano showing us (loudly, excitedly, intensively) the different spiritual and emotional stages of our pilgrimage, complete with diagrams.  So I set the scene.  Out of a dormitory, unfortunately adjoining the very noisy dining room comes Monsieur Frenchman number 1.  We´ve met him and Mme. Sourface, his wife, the previous night moaning about noise.  Monsieur number 1 starts shouting at everyone “… to be quiet, to have some respect, he is trying to sleep!”  Other Frenchman and lovely wife – let’s call him monsieur number 2 decide not to take this lying down.  ´

Monsieur 2. “Maybe you should stay in smaller hostels.”

Monsieur 1. ” Monsieur, I am getting up at 6.00 in the morning.”

Monsieur 2. “Monsieur, we are ALL getting up at 6. (Apart from Yours Truly who still lies in bed, wondering till about seven)”

Monsieur 1. “Have some respect, monsieur, it is 10.00, I am a pilgrim”

Monsieur 2. “Monsieur, we are ALL pilgrims.”

Monsieur 1. “Non, non monsieur, you are not a pilgrim if you carry on like this.”

Monsieur 2. “You are saying I am not a pilgrim?  What eez all this, (shoving his credential with all its stamps under his nose).  What eez all this if not showing I am a pilgrim.”

I am very much enjoying this and pleased with my ability to understand French, but I think I´ll escape to bed before it comes to “Les Feesteecuffs”en francais.


Day 5.  Puente de Reina to Estella.

Walking with Soraya and Miso.  Soraya is Spanish and has learnt English in Ireland, so has a great accent, if somewhat unbelievable.  We talk about my favourite subject of the moment, languages, phonetics, etc.

A group have stopped on a medieval bridge.  Under the bridge is a gentle river.  I find my flip flops, take shoes and socks off and have a paddle.  Wow!  Forget your luxuries, that cold water over your feet ranks right up there in heaven!

Talk about feet, bodies – fine, thank you.  I´m either jammy or I´m actually maybe quite fit for walking.  My Merrell approach shoes now have holes in the bottoms but are going fine.  They are very old.  I hope they can make 640 plus km more.

Estella is the most beautiful place and there was so much to see and do.  There were three hostels, I was the only one to choose the one I stayed in.  It was beautifully quiet, facilities marvellous and had pictures of people with learning disabilities everywhere.  I asked in Spanish and a lot of the Spanish went over my head, but I think it was a centre that the clients came to after their day centre to relax and help with the pilgrims.  Oh, it just felt so much like home, I wanted to stay and volunteer there and then – just so familiar.

I went for a wander.  There was a medieval festival, Susato being played on the streets (Renaissance musician), stalls, food….. I bumped into three young male pilgrims whom I joined for a plate of ribs. I  Yeah, I know I didn´t drink and I was mostly vegetarian before I started El Camino…..  I went back, showered, did the washing, saw to my feet and back into town.  It started getting hectic – I bumped into the Swedish family, talked, bumped into David, chatted, bumped into Marta and male friend with whom I talked about education systems in Spanish.  They were determined to up my level (education or Spanish?).  It was 9.30 before I returned to the albergue to eat a bit of bread, cheese, cherries and nectarine.  Sheep´s cheese is lovely!

Oh, Estella.


Day 6  Estella to Los Arcos.  To be continued, including the wine fountain and fiesta.  Yes, look it up.  No, I haven´t drunk too much.  It´s a wine fountain, Yes, free.  Don´t believe me, then.

I´m going for a short 29 km stroll.  See you later.

Cherryll, can you give my sons a ring and tell them that their mother´s hoping they´re still alive, thank you.

Heather xxxx

Tune in tomorrow for Day 6 of the enlightenment.

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