Los Arcos to Logroño
I love the movie, “The Way.” It’s a beautiful story of a man’s journey towards life, there’s lots of truth in it. The movie created a spark in me that led to this season in my life. The problem with the movie, in typical Hollywood fashion, is it over-romanticizes the journey and omits some of the more difficult parts. Not once do we see Martin Sheen lancing a blister with a needle and thread and then dressing the wound with three layers of Compeed. And never do we see him step on a small rock that penetrates his hiking shoe at just the right place and moment to make direct contact with the recently treated blister. And we don’t hear the subsequent speaking-in-tongues, creative cussing (sorry Mom) that only comes from sharp, stabbing pains in your feet. The movie doesn’t show Martin and his squad making the 27.8km (that’s roughly 17.2 miles for my American friends) trek from Los Arcos to Logroño.
There are times when the Camino is a grind…this stage is one of them; it’s long, has a lot of ascents/descents, and there’s only about one square yard of shade on the whole trip. That was tough on this warm, sunny day.
What propelled us onward was the thought of a rest day. Our bodies – muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, blisters, and the great distance between our ears – were beginning to adjust to the reality of pilgrimage. All we needed to level-up on this pilgrim journey was a chance for our bodies to heal. We would get the day of rest if we could make it to Logroño.
Reaching Viana was my favorite part of today’s hike, it’s about 2/3 of the way into the trip. The day’s walk was a struggle for me – knowing that Logroño represented rest was a blessing and a curse; it was a blessing in the hope it provided if we could just make it there. A curse in that with each step, it seemed more elusive. Because of the tough day, I adopted “struggle” as the word to guide my introspection. Dragging into Viana, we stopped at the first restaurant/bar for an ice-cold Estrella, a nice elixir for the weary pilgrim as long as the pilgrim supplements with plenty of water. The second thing I encountered in Viana is this ornate relief in the entry to a church in the center of town. It depicts the story of ultimate struggle and reminded me of the reality of struggle as we walk through this life.
Not far from this relief was the grave marker for Cesare Borgia, this might be of interest to you if you’ve read “The Prince” by Machiavelli or have watched one of the two Borgia mini-series on Netflix. I’ve been interested in the story of Cesare Borgia and his father, Rodrigo Borgia (aka, Pope Alexander VI) for a while. It’s a fascinating story of church failure, spiritual abuse, and the capacity of man for good or evil.
On the way out of Viana, there was a young family piling into a mini-van. The youngest child, about 3 years old, was already strapped into his car seat. As we passed, the child shouted out in his 3-year-old voice, “¡Buen Camino, peregrinos!” It’s interesting to think that this kid has grown up every day of his life seeing strange people with backpacks walking through his town. And his parents grew up the same way, and their parents, and on and on.
We trudged into Logroño in the late afternoon and made a bee-line to the hotel we had reserved for the night. For the sake of rest, we opted out of the albergue scene for one night and treated ourselves to a night in the local Marriott. I will write more about this later in the “what I would do differently” chapter…