Monday, August 22, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Torres Del Rio To Logroño

Day seven, the last of the 'walls'.  At least that's what I kept telling myself.  It was a tough day for me even though it was relatively short.  The sunshine and cloudless skies which make for awesome views and incredible landscape shots also make you sweat.

To make the sticky sweat-ness even worse, my ankle was not responding to the Ibuprofen this day and it was really bothering me.  My right ankle was double the size of my left.

On top of the heat and the pain, this stretch of the Camino wasn't very inspiring.  At least I don't remember it being so.  I only remember a couple things about the walk.  The first is a confusing signpost that seemed to point in two different directions.  I showed this to a fellow pilgrim and we pondered it a while until a man, who appeared to be living with his family out of his van, came out and pointed us in the correct direction.

The second was the Las Cañas Nature Reserve.  The Camino passed by this large marshy area where birds like to roost.  I was too hot, and my ankle hurt too much, for me to really appreciate it.

I entered the city of Logroño.  I passed an old lady selling stuff.  I should have stopped as she also had her own sello (pilgrim's credential stamp) but I just wanted to get to the albergue.  I passed a field of poppies which did lift my spirits a bit.  The poppies were a welcome splash of color along the Camino.  I saw the word "Municipal" out of the corner of my eye.  Thinking it might be the Municipal Albergue I took a closer look.  It was the Municipal Crematorium.  While I felt dead on my feet I didn't think I was ready for that quite yet.

I crossed a cool bridge, reached the albergue, and was fourth in line behind a French girl and two Fins (The next time I would see the Fins was on the way to Fisterra - them heading the other way).  While I did my chores SZ, GV, JM, and RF arrived.  I think I also met LO (French) and NV (Irish, friend of SB and MN) here though I'm not sure (days and people tend to melt together in my memories and they are sometimes hard to extricate).

While they did their chores I went exploring.  I found the commercial area of the city and bought some supplies for the next day.  I found a pharmacy and pointed to my angle and said "Tendon·ī·tis".  The pharmacist looked confused for a second and then said "Oh, Tendon·ē·tis".  Heh, yeah, that.  She confirmed that only Ibuprofen, anti-inflammatory cream, and rest would help.  I was hoping she would have some treatment I hadn't heard of.  At this time in my Camino I didn't consider rest an option.  It felt too early for a rest.

I returned to the albergue and eyed the pool/fountain in the courtyard.  I took off my flip flops and sat on the edge and soaked my feet in the cold water.  It felt awesome and the pain in my ankle temporarily vanished.  I was soon joined by EN, JM, RF, SZ, and GV (GV, who got her first blisters on the way into Logroño - big ones - probably got her first infected blister from this pool.  Live and learn).

Turns out this albergue, and all the others in the city, were full.  This didn't happen often in large cities like this.  JM and RF got the last two slots in our municipal albergue.  Several other pilgrims ended up sleeping in a nearby church where they were locked in.

Since everything was now closed, I took a nap in the late afternoon.  When I got up I ran into SZ who needed to buy food.  I walked with her and led her to the commercial area that I'd been earlier.  She bought her supplies and told me that some of the pilgrims were going to meet at the Cathedral and go out to eat.  I said I'd see her there when she headed back to the albergue to drop off her purchases.

I wandered around a bit and ended up at the Cathedral.  Outside the Cathedral a tent city had formed.  Protesters were milling about.  They were angry with the austerity programs the Spanish government were implementing.

I went inside the Cathedral to take pictures and kill time.  I ran into GV there and we chatted while we waited for the others.  They never showed.  Not sure what happened.  After a while we decided we were hungry so we looked for a place to eat and ended at a Doner Kebap, the closest thing to a fast food chain in Spain except they serve Turkish and Middle Eastern food.  This one also served pizza and the closest thing to a hamburger that I'd seen in Spain so far.

That night at 2:34 AM the protesters decided they didn't like the police station across the street from the albergue and started yelling obscenities at it, waking up the pilgrims in the process.  I rarely got a good night's sleep on the Camino but, with all the naps I took, I always got enough.

After a day of tolerating a rather painful ankle, the adventure was about to continue ... and while rest was not an option, a shorter stage was.

Total Distance: 12.56 Miles (20.21 km)
Total Time: 4 hours 48 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,860 ft (566.93 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,134 ft (650.44 m)
2011-05-21 Torres del Rio to Logroño
[Click on map for a larger version]