We were up and at it early before saying our goodbyes to everyone. We were heading for Los Arcos and there would be some climbing today. We had gone about 3 km so it was like 9 AM. We came upon the beautiful Bodegas Irache vinyard. We were wishing it was later in the day because they had to our astonishment a dispenser for pilgrims – red wine and water! I filled my water bottle, my hat, my pockets with wine. Marie was more sensible and filled up more on the water. The rest of our day was going to be a fun one for sure.
By now we were starting to feel the physical strain of the pilgrimage. I remember having to lift my legs one by one with my hands to get into bed at night – they were so weak and tired from the day. And climbing up and down from an upper bunk on the ladder was painful on the feet. Marie had blisters on her feet she had to contend with. To reduce friction, we would apply vaseline to the souls of our feet each morning before dawning our socks. Still, after a good nights sleep (we were getting somewhat immune to the snoring), we would feel healed, energized and ready to go again.
Each day, we would stop at a small corner store and pick up some fruit, bread, cheese, nuts, carrots etc for the following day. In the morning we would have some fruit and Dave would make a sandwich to share for lunch. We would stop for a continental breakfast and later in the early afternoon, have lunch alongside the trail. In the evening, either there would be a communal meal or we would find a restaurant for the menu del dia. This would usually consist of salad or soup, meat and potatoes and a desert – with endless wine included.
The trick with all this is the hours that places are open in Spain are different from home. Corner stores and restaurants were generally closed from 12 to 3 PM and again from 6 to 8 PM. Too often we would arrive to see the “cerado” (pronounced serado) sign in the window – “cerado, cerado, cerado” became our frequent chant. So we adapted and tried to get in early enough to have dinner before the restaurants closed at 6 PM. Otherwise we would have to wait until 8PM, faint with hunger. Language was never a problem. We simply pointed and they brought it. We were eating to fuel our bodies.
We made it to Los Arcos, a town of 1300 residents. We checked into a 48 bed private refugio sponsored by Austria – La Fuente. Freshened up we checked out the local church. Often there were special Masses for pilgrims and we attended a few. The “race for beds” though each day made us not want to linger and then get in too late and potentially be turned away. We never were turned away and never had a reservation anywhere except at our hotel in Santiago for the very end.
We went out to a spiffier restaurant then usual and had a great Italian dinner with friends shown above. We then went shopping for some food at the corner store. Another day done – about 22 km.