Day 11 (29 KM)
Nájera -Santa Domingo
(Sue and Jerry, the calm before the storm)
Was an easy walk out of Nájera…with plenty a hill to keep Jerry “happy”. At one point we all decided to break just before a lengthy climb.
We sat down next to the trail bordered by vineyards and as pelegrinos passed by we began to cheer as if it was the “Tour de France”. Many thought us quite delirious, but many got a kick out of it and even got a boost of energy. We laughed until our stomachs hurt, and then it was our turn to climb. Energized from our cheering we tackled the hill with vigor and rewarded ourselves with a bit of lunch at the town of Ciriñuela’s golf course’s country club that literally appeared out of nowhere. I asked Jerry if he wanted to hit a bucket of balls, but he declined. He did however retrieve a score card from the golf pro as a souvenir. As we exited the golf club the predicted rain began to fall, lightly. We donned our rain gear and continued undaunted through the sparsely populated town. It was comprised of numerous tracks of condo like new buildings with all but four shuttered up completely. It seemed like a “if you build it they will come” kind of idea, with regard to the plush golf course, club house, and housing, but they haven’t come, or we missed the party somehow. As there were no lights on the golf course I assumed they would play during the day as opposed to after 9pm like they seem to do everything around here. From town, you drop down onto a wide gravel trail. By now the wind is gaining in strength. Jerry says to Sue, “This is your last chance if you want to turn around and catch the bus to Santa Domingo.” With a resounding, “No, I’m fine with walking”, she turns into the wind and literally presses forward. We had considered putting on our rain pants, but neither the rain or the wind was cold and Sue and Jerry had shipped theirs. The wind was now near gale force, reminiscent of heading up Tehachapi last year on the PCT. Sue is attempting to draft off Jerry to avoid being swept away. We consider adding more to her pack just to keep her grounded…she’d rather fly. Soon the wind was accompanied by a torrential downpour of biblical proportions…head-on. In a flash we were soaked, only on the front half of our bodies. As quickly as it came, it was gone. By the time we reached the next town before Santo Domingo (Cirueña), Sue and Jerry had had enough (a little over 16K) and threw in the towel in favor a the next bus to Santo Domingo. Later they told us that they felt like ” quitters” and ” bad” for leaving us, but when 30 other peregrinos who were younger than them got on the bus, they didn’t feel so bad. Paul and I however, trudged on. We had seen, heck we had been in this movie before, and it became actually fun…yes we are a little “off”. We felt sorry for the cyclists as they were not traveling much faster than us against the 40-60 mph winds (don’t ask me to make the KM conversion). We considered taking a seat as we had done earlier in the day and cheering the remaining walkers and cyclists on, but thought it might scare them a bit, or make the ” wrong impression “. On the horizon we could see that we were about to walk into another wet cell, which of course corresponded with our having just walked ourselves dry. Well, now for the rinse cycle, we laughed. The rinse cycle actually became the wash cycle, as it rained even harder than before and this time from all directions. At one point Paul asked, “What’s going on with your shorts?”, huh? I look down and I am completely frothy, or should I say soapy. Apparently my shorts had excess soap from their last washing and were lathering up again. Well, on the bright side, there is no need to do laundry in Santo Domingo anymore. Eventually we arrive in Santo Domingo (again having walked ourselves dry) and meet up with Sue and Jerry. We had reservations at a Pension and Jerry had sent his bag there, but it was pricey and there just happened to be room at the municiple albergue, so Paul and I liberated Jerry’s bag from the Pension to the displeasure of the operator who spoke NO English and appeared not to be able to read Spanish (remember I read/write better than I speak…in most languages). As it turns out, this albergue (the municiple one) was the best we have stayed in yet (besides The Best Exotic Marigold..aka del Laurel). It was clean, fairly new and had an excellent kitchen area where this time we (I) cooked a complete meal for pennies on the Euro for what we would have paid at a restaurant, which still is cheaper than any place in the states.
Seeing we had some leftovers, and Paul refused to carry it the next day, we shared with a French couple who were overjoyed to have a “home cooked” meal as well. My reward was their wine…an excellent trade! With that we retired and I had the best nights sleep I’ve had since summer camp in crowded dorms. No really, I slept really well.
Be Strong! Austin Strong!