Day 10 – 26th September 2015, Villatuerta to Irache.
Sadly, Casa Magica did not provide a useful invisibility cloak or wand like Harry Potter’s as part of the pilgrim package, so I was unable to make the loud snoring in the dorm, belonging to one pilgrim, disappear. Day 10 dawned a tad earlier than dawn itself because the same pilgrim got up far too early and made as much noise as possible, while re-packing his backpack. I do not know why he couldn’t do all of that downstairs without disturbing anyone. Honestly there should be a rule that albergue receptionists should ask pilgrims what time they intend to get up in the morning and then put all the exceptionally early risers in the same dorm. Likewise for the snorers from hell! Maybe that would be too tricky and perhaps one of the life lessons pilgrims learn on the Camino is tolerance. And lets face it, strict regimentation like that with time slots probably belongs only in Roncesvalles (remember the timed dinner and breakfast slots?) and then pilgrims wouldn’t have anything to moan about!
Rant over! Breakfast was great. For the first time in ages, I was able to enjoy a bowl of muesli and yoghurt for a change. I am a muesli or porridge-for-breakfast kind of girl, so I have found the hard breakfast toast or boccadillos heavy going at times. It is funny what one misses from home! I was grateful to be able to fuel up properly.
My body felt tired today, and my travelling companions Alan and Laurie were also feeling bushed to the collective vote was for doing a shorter walk today and perhaps end up in Irache. This seemed like a good plan and we set off along the pathway towards Estella. Every now and then there was a steep incline that wound upwards through some conifer woodland. I could really feel my knees working hard and I remembered to squeeze my glutes. Soon we arrived in Estella and hunted down some good coffee.
Feeling somewhat refreshed we pressed on towards Irache. Irache is famous for two things, its Benedictine monastery, which dates back to the tenth century and the Fuente del Vino or Wine Fountain, where pilgrims could, and I quote, ”fortify” themselves for the journey ahead for free as a treat from the local Bodegas. When you reach the fountain, you will notice two taps, on the right hand side there is one for “agua” (water) and on the left hand side there is one for “vino” (wine). For the discerning wine connoisseurs amongst us, I would hazard a guess that the wine in the fountain had not yet matured as the aroma seemed to be slightly vinegary, hence I refrained from filling up my bottle. My feature photo is misleading in this regard. I couldn’t even bring myself to touch a drop (honest), no that would have been a rash move indeed! This, however, did not deter one local chap from rocking up and filling up his plastic water bottle before going on his way. I only hope he wasn’t going to drive a tractor afterwards! A mischievous train of thought took shape, wouldn’t it be funny to put up a graffiti sign saying “Jesus woz here” and labelling the water tap “before” and the wine tap “after”? Hmmm how things have moved on since that wedding at Cana. I wondered to myself whether the pilgrims went to the church first at the monastery to “fortify” themselves spiritually before making a wine pit stop or the other way round? If it was the latter, I am sure the sermons and confessions would be far more interesting!
Needless to say, our happy band of pilgrims, visited the fountain first before taking a look around the church and cloisters at the monastery (bless). The church was much less ornate than the Cathedral in Pamplona, and many of the churches I had visited along the way, since I began my pilgrimage. Indeed, the atmosphere inside felt as though it still contained the vestiges of prayer throughout the centuries, despite the fact it was now a museum. The last monks to serve the community there left in 1985, owing to a shortage of novitiates.
From there we had a relatively short walk to our place of rest for the night, the Iratz camping ground, a rather tired and worn looking holiday camp, which had seen better days. However, our chalet accommodation worked out at 10 euros each because we had a new room mate called Jade, who had just turned up on her own. It didn’t take us long to settle in. Thankfully no booming voices over the tannoy telling us to join in the organised activities! The facilities were clean and there were good showers. The drawback, was that the on site cafeteria was not serving food until 9 pm. We went on a reconnaissance mission to see if we could find an establishment that served food earlier. All three others didn’t. The alien that had occupied my stomach wasn’t happy. In the end Laurie and I managed to persuade the on site cafe folk to serve us some pinxtos and Alan popped out a bit later and had a lovely veggie meal at the nearby hotel restaurant. By the time he got back us three ladies were in bed and it wasn’t even late!
Peace, love and light,