Sunday, August 11th

And the 5.00 people kept waking up the 6:00 people. Doesn't matter.

Torres de Rio

I have to mention Dan. I haven't met Dan. But Dan is obviously a pilgrim with a red spray can, a couple of days ahead, who leaves his name and the date every so often. A pilgrim graffiti artist. You can't help but like him.

At a bar, with dozens of other pilgrims. Cafe con leche and a chocolate-bread thing.

Fairly flat Way this morning, walking solo mostly. Good roads, usually with wheat on one side, with vines on the other, occasionally they swap sides.

6kms to Samsol, then 1km to here. Began hearing strange music from somewhere, eerie stuff. Samsol had 'Caution - Fiesta' notices at the entry to the village. Discarded cassette tapes, empty plastic cups. This town had a good time last night. By the time I got there, the music I'd been hearing became Van Halen's 'Jump'. A look from the church's terrace over to Torres del Rio, then finally to here. There's another pilgrim tending his feet on the Torres del Rio church fence, but everyone else is in this bar, the Germans en masse, and the Spaniards at the bar, the cool people all led by Captain Cool himself, the one with a different baseball cap for each time of day, and who wears headphones, naturally.

It's a good walk though. Not as exhilarating as yesterday, but good. Passing a few pilgrims, "Ola", and getting the "Ola" back again. Overtaken by Captain Cool himself, still with his headphones on, loudly, maybe he hasn't noticed that his followers were nowhere behind him. Maybe they've left him.

And there really are roadworms. Like large millipedes, they'll roll up into a spiral if you touch them, and there's hundreds of them. Thought that I must have been hallucinating at first, thought that maybe this was a sign of dehydration or something. But, no, the roadworms appear to just crawl out of the road.

Found the refugio, left the backpack, first in the queue. Back to the main square, tourist office "donde esta telephono?", and I'm given a guide to the town, and directions to the phone box.
Then to a bar, met Mariana, who caught the bus to here, then David, who's so thrilled that he did the 18kms in 3 hours. Pilgrimage as sport I guess.

Back to the refugio. Wait a little, then it opens. I register. In broken English, the woman at reception tells me she has three sisters, or something, living in Tasmania. My room's upstairs, and it's triple bunks. I don't remember ever having seen triple bunks before, but I'm on the bottom.

Then after placing my boots on the window sill, with all the others, it's out, for wanders. At least as far as another bar, there's lots of people in here, most having coffee, loudly. Maybe the service that was on, in the cathedral over the road has finished, and the entire congregation just moved over here, Maybe they're discussing the finer theological points of the service. Maybe not.

But on the TV there's dancing Spanish queens, Abba-like. No, now there's a crooner, black t-shirt and perfect hair, like a Spanish Tom Jones.

At the rear of the refugio, behind the destroyed but half-standing cathedral, there's a public park. The views are massive. There's an old guy here, who's been telling me things, asking me things, but "no comprenez" to almost everything. I'm trying to understand him, he's mentioning Logrono, tomorrow's destination, which is visible from here, although it's 10kms away. He's pointing things out
to the left and right. but I don't now what to look at, or if I'm looking at the things he's telling me about.

Anyway, up to the Plaza de los Fuero, the central square. There's a fountain in the centre. And good God, the same old guy's turned up here, too. Beating a hasty retreat as soon as diplomatically possible.

Spent ages in the Burdon Bar. Basically avoiding the Old Guy. He began by trying to tell Mariana and David something, in Spanish, then mime, to illustrate whatever it was he was on about. Mimes of struggling under a heavy load, mimes of staggering. Showing us his tanned arms, several times, and his white legs, fortunately just the once. The piece de resistance, though, was flicking out his false teeth, first the bottoms, then the uppers. Enough. Stop, please. Maybe this old guy nails pilgrims, maybe the locals already know him as a nutter.

To the bar. Talking things Irish and Aboriginal, but mostly Irish. The sports on TV. Men smoking cigars, playing cards, with little piles of coins in front of them.

Made a coffee at the refugio, took ages to boil. A German family scooping out the innards of an entire watermelon, into a bowl. Maybe a German delicacy, I don't know.

Brought the coffee outside, to here, into this ruined cathedral turned into public park. I'm actually sitting in the base of a ruined column, the roof has entirely gone, just the walls, and the right nave, and what would have been the altar. It's been grafitteed, by someone named Jari, and someone else wants to "Abolizión Trikornce', whatever that might be.

The American family with the three bickering boys are here, and they have no food. Apparently not realizing it was a Sunday, and they couldn't get a bed at the refugio, so they're scrounging around for bedrolls. They're tourists, they expect everything. Apparently that's not the Pilgrim Way. According to those steeped in pilgrim-lore, the tourist expects, while the pilgrim is grateful for anything. I'm grateful I arrived before they did. There's a few English tourists, they were whinging as they showers quite as hot as they'd have preferred. They're kind of pathetic.

Have to mention Plasticbagman, the pilgrim who endlessly rustles plastic bags. He has all his maps and information in plastic bags. While most pilgrims, when they arrive, just want to rest, if not sleep, for a while. They can't if Plasticbagman is there. He's lying on his bad, going crackle, crackle, crackle,as he presumably plans tomorrow. Hmm, just thinking about dropping off, then? Crackle, crackle, crackle. Bejaysus, it's a good thing I don't carry a gun. Plasticbagman looks remarkably like Eric Clapton. Maybe he is. If Eric spoke broken English and fluent French. Maybe it's all a disguise, a ruse. Still, at the moment, he's annoying. Crackle, crackle, crackle.

My own plans are three short days, then a long one to Burgos.


An art exhibition. Alicia Irigoyen, landscape paintings, oils I think, applied quite thickly. There's about ten paintings, and they're very, very good.

Just gave my bag of noodles to Bea, the mother of the bickering boys, in a fit of generosity. They've nothing, and everything is closed, except the bars. I don't know why she doesn't just take them there. Maybe she imagines they'll be corrupted by Spanish bars, dens of iniquity, card playing and gambling, and Spanish dancing queens on the TV, and alcohol. But no, she'll keep them pure, at the refugio, playing endless games of "Go Fish", and have endless funs thinking of new names for each other. They'll have to, as "moron" is losing its effect.

I'm a little worried that I haven't been able to have great thoughts along The Way. That all the energy that supposedly leaks from the leyline The Way follows into your feet, and thence upward to the brain, hasn't happened. It happened almost instantly to Shirley Maclaine. Maybe she was more receptive. But, all the same, why aren't I absorbing at least some of all this higher consciousness. Incidents from the past get replayed over and over in my head, songs, and lines from songs, get themselves into a loop, Pachelbel's Canon, Born in the USA, Do Re Mi, pipe band marching tunes. But no great thoughts, no insights, I still feel like the same person, one who's waiting for some miraculous change to happen. For some clear light to appear. To understand something, some kind of illumination. Of what? The meaning of it all, I guess. The answer to why I tend to be such a miserable bastard? Some sudden realization of what I need to do? Should I be making plans? For what? to happen when? what should I be thinking about? Where's the starting point? How will I recognize a great thought if one just happens to flash through?
I don't understand all the previous pilgrims who've walked the Camino and emerged with a clear construct of enlightened thought. How do they do it and not miss all the balises? You have to watch out for them. Miss one, on one of the long stretches and you could end up in some other place, miles of the Camino, probably having to backtrack. How can you divide your mind between looking externally for the markers, and be totally absorbed with the inner stuff. I mean, if your mind's full of the white light of enlightenment, can you actually see anything else?

Maybe it'll happen tomorrow, on the 10km walk to Logrono. Maybe by the time I reach the town, I'll have been transformed into the New Messiah, and the native Logronians will emerge from their houses to welcome me, to lay palm fronds at my feet, make offerings of their virgin daughters, singing hymns, do re mi. "But no," I'll reply verily, and they will instantly understand, as my voice will speak many languages, "I am but a humble pilgrim."

Probably not.



Finally, I got my very first Spanish fashion accessory. I feel so elegant.