My Camino: Day 8 – There Are No Shortcuts

Who had “She’ll get lost on Day 8?”

I had made a deal with myself today – promising a light, easy, take it slow, and relaxing day. I really needed it. Yesterday’s 17 mile march was too much – I mean, I’ve signed up to walk The Camino not the army.

And to be honest, it’s felt like I’ve enrolled in the army lately. I’ve been marching like I’m going off to war – not totally giving myself the opportunity to enjoy the Spanish Schlep.

So this morning I slept in until eight and set off on an easy 10 mile walk from Logrono to the small village of Ventosa.

The guide books promised a day of walking through city parks, olive groves and vineyards…. sounds perfect.

As I left my hotel in Logrono though, I became acutely aware that I was in a city. And the sounds of the city coming alive were an assault on my senses. Cars were whizzing by, kids on their way to school we yelling at each other on their bicycles, moms were yelling into their cellphones.

I needed a quick escape – so I found an open bar to order a coffee but I found myself nearly screaming at the half awake barista, “how long does it take to make a fucking cup of coffee!!!!”

So I left before he could serve me in hopes of avoiding an international incident.

The climb out of town was on a pedestrian walkway full of suburbanites who were walking the “Cholesterol Camino” – mom groups, retired folks, and young parents pushing their newborns in their oversized prams. It was crowded and pounding the pavement was starting to cause me foot problems again.

By the time I got to the actual dirt paths snaking through the vineyards, I was exhausted and I was tired of other people.

And then came VJ, the angry 26- year old nurse from California. He was pissed off – at the world, at his patients, at his lot in life. He was dropping more F-bombs than Stormin’ Norman and it forced me to realize – I wanted lightness …. AND to find out which hospital he works at cuz I’ll be goddamned if I want him to treat me in my hour of need.

I faked a need to check my boots and told him I’d meet up with him later, and as he walked ahead I took a deep breath and thought to myself – I’m in fucking Spain walking the Camino – chill the fuck down!

And then I saw them – migrant workers from Senegal, Mali, and Guinea harvesting the grapes from the vines. They were laughing and chattering, and seeming to be enjoying the lives they were living, far, far from home.

I stopped to chat with them – only one could speak, but in his broken English he wished me a “buen Camino” and said what a blessing it was to meet me on such a beautiful day and how grateful he was to be able to practice his English.

Wow – he was grateful for our brief encounter. He’ll never know how that little human interaction changed my day.

My feet were screaming for attention – they couldn’t care less about this cultural exchange so I looked at my GPS only to find that I had walked three miles in the wrong direction.

So much for my short, easy day. I had to hoof it back, through a farm field, up yet another fucking hill, and down a busy highway to my hotel. The sun was beating down, it was hot and there were no trees to offer any shade.

It’s as if fate knew I wanted to slack off today, to only give it maybe 50percent – and fate wouldn’t allow me to cut any corners. This Camino wants me to give it my all – each day, everyday.

Tomorrow tho – I’m cheating fate – the forecast is calling for rain, the trail goes through an industrial park, and the daily planner says it’s a 29mile walk – I’m calling a cab….. or – maybe not??!!

Here are my stats

13.6 Miles Marched Today

(Logrono – Ventosa)

114.4 Miles Marched So Far

391.4 Miles Left To March

505.8 Total Miles to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain

Tomorrow: On to Santo Damingo de la Calzada

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