Day 12 – 28th September 2015, Sansol to Logrono.
This beautiful sunrise greeted us, not long after Laurie and I left Casa Rural El Olivo. What a tranquil haven that was! Today we aimed to reach Logrono in the neighbouring province of Rioja, noted for its famous wine. I had really enjoyed walking through Navarre (the Basque country). It is a spectacular province, with majestic and awe-.inspiring mountains, beeçh, pine and oak forests, valleys and pretty villages. I loved the lush green, yet wild countryside, its friendly, welcoming people and the unusual language and script. Somehow, I felt an affinity for this province.
The Camino snaked its way out of Sansol and through Torres del Rio and soon I found myself going upwards. I noticed the cool air brushing along my bare arms and breathed it in deeply as I ascended an incline. A week ago, I would have experienced this early morning walk as exertion, but my body felt strong and very much alive. I could feel the energy from the earth resonate through me. Soon Laurie and I came to a viewpoint where we watched the sunrise. The spot seemed to be a special place because pilgrims had built prayer cairns from rocks and pebbles alongside the Camino. You will notice many of these along the way. To me they are powerful symbols of intentions of pilgrims. Some may symbolise worries or cares that someone might be grappling with, others could be offered up as prayers for loved ones and there are fair few out there that represent love and peace. I watched in wonder as the sun’s rays bathed the prayer cairns in golden light.
Moments like these are precious and remind me to stop, look, listen, feel, taste and intuit my surroundings and to not rush on past. Each step I walk along the Camino is a prayer in remembrance of my mum and in acknowledgement of all that my parents taught me and gave me throughout my life until they made their transition. I am truly grateful for who they were and how they have shaped, who I have become. Two big lessons I am beginning to grasp hold of along this journey are self acceptance i.e. to acknowledge and love who I am and to remove self-limitation. When I think back to last year, I remember training for a 5km Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research. I thought back then, it was a huge challenge but I persevered and got through it. This year I am walking over 500 miles on my personal pilgrimage. As my body, mind and spirit adapts to the daily nuances and foibles of this challenge, I realise I can achieve anything I put my ‘whole’ self to.
We walked onwards and warmed up with the autumn sunshine. We stopped for a boccadillo and coffee break in Viane, a lively town, where, as is the usual habit, pilgrims tend to congregate in the main plaza for a break and a ‘refuel’ stop.
The next section was a bit of a hard slog following the main road, pretty much all the way in to Logrono. We had crossed over into Rioja and we chatted to some monks, who were selling fruit, nuts, refreshments and souvenirs to raise money for local causes.
It took a while to reach the centre of the city in the heat of the day. We walked over a lovely bridge over the river Piedra. I wondered if this was the same river Piedra that had inspired Paulo Coelho to write his book, ‘By the River Piedra I sat down and wept’. He is one of my favourite authors and I have read most of his books. Another one, ‘Manuscript found in Accra’, is waiting for me at home. A few days ago, while going up Alto Perdon, I noticed a place name called Astrain. Any fan of Paulo Coelho, who has read The Pilgrimage, about his personal journey along the Camino de Santiago, might remember that Astrain was the name given to his messenger. Thought to myself whether the place name came first and Paulo Coelho borrowed it or whether the place has been named after the character in his book? A curious mystery…
Anyway, I digress, I crossed the bridge over the weir and heard the river thunder underneath. Eventually, we picked up the local signs for the Camino, that were few and far between compared to Navarre. We kept on walking right into the centre of the city to a lovely quiet, family run Pension, aptly named ‘El Camino’. Showered, changed and handwashing done, Laurie and I met up with Alan at the Cafe Moderna for a pilgrim meal, which was ok but it could have been served up hotter. I missed Navarre.
Peace, love and light,