Walking for Water with Camino Jim-Day 9 … it’s hot! 90 + degrees.


Day 9 … it’s hot! 90 + degrees.

I am walking to Najera after getting three hours of simi-sleep in Navarette. The Navarette cafe and bar crew did not stop working and being together until 4:30. I’m not sure it would have mattered because the room was so hot I could not have slept there regardless. I did get to sleep between 4:30 and 7:30 and it showed up in even this short 12 mile walk. I was more tired after the first six miles than I should have been. I just took my time which is the only way to deal with it.
I did not see many pilgrims today … not sure why but the Camino was empty with only a handful of pilgrims. There is not much to see on this day 9 but at about the six mile point I met Alex, a local who just walks for exercise and the opportunity to improve his English. He caught up with me and asked if he could walk along with me. Of course I said yes and off we went. I did not change my pace and he walked at my pace. Alex lives in Navarette and we are walking together in the Rioja wine region. As we past through the vineyards the grapes are becoming more noticeable and will soon be harvested. Alex owns 40 hectares which produces lots of grapes which he has harvested by a farmer who shares in 50% of the total sales for his work. Alex explains that all of the grapes we are walking past are Tempranillo. The region once tried to introduce Shiraz but because the two grapes need to be harvested at different times because of their different growth needs it became too costly to try to manage two harvests.

Alex likes to walk five days each week for about six miles each day. He has been to America but only to Boston, New York and Washington. Little does he know how few of the people in our country have not seen any of these locations and most likely never will. He asks about California wine and gingerly expresses an opinion about the high cost and the relative value of Spanish wine particularly Rioja. Alex tells me that the region produces 400 million bottles each year with half staying in Spain and the other half exported primary to Northern Europe. The most interesting comment he made was that with the exception of Italy, Portugal and Spain all of the other European country’s including England, Ireland and Scotland drink to get drunk. Spain, Italy and Portugal drink to enjoy the wine as a part of their culture. Interesting.
On a really positive note in Najera, I’m staying at the same place as once before. Clean, quiet, a real shower and centrally located. After last night’s stay awake all night dump this truly fees like a Four Seasons. I arrived in Najera later than I should have because I made a mistake at a roundabout just on the outskirts of Najera. I thought I was supposed to take he first turn in the roundabout but it should have been the second exit. As I hiked down along the highway I became more and more concerned that I was headed in the wrong direction. If you are not paying attention it is very easy to miss a turn … I know because I have done it many times. I stopped at a gas station and I’m lucky it’s open because it’s Sunday. Once inside I buy a Gatorade and then ask for help. I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me but I believe that he’s sending me back in the same direction. I return to the roundabout and take the correct exit. Once on what appears to be the trail I am looking for only one thing … lots of footprints. It’s the simplist way to know if you are on the Camino. No footprints, no Camino. I think my little error only cost me about thirty minutes.

Once over the bridge I immediately recognize where I am and go directly to my accommodation. I have stayed here once before. It is well managed and clean. They have added a new washing service which I take advantage of. It costs ten Euro and if you give them the laundry by 5:00 it will be back by 8:00. Clean yes, pressed no. It really does not matter because it’s all going into the backpack.
The shower is the best thus far and by that I mean the water pressure. Finally it’s what’s needed. I will also point out as I have said before, the most dangerous part of the Camino is getting in and out of the shower. It’s always like stepping on an ice skating rink. Fail to pay attention here and it will end very badly.
I’m on my way out to get something to eat and I meet two new arrivals. They are from LA. We say our hellos as

I’m on my way out and they are anxious to ge to their room.

That’s it for day 9, here are the updated figures:

Miles today: 12.6
Steps today: 32,959
Total miles to date: 113.6
Total steps to date: 322,926
Flights total: 505
Also, so far we’ve been able to raise $27,640.40 for the two mechanized systems!
Goodnight Buen Camino.