Day 7: Puente la Reina to Estella

Today wiped me out completely! So, instead of starting at the beginning of my journey like I usually do, I will start from the end this time. 

I know some folks say that this walk is not that difficult, but I am finding that none of these walks are necessarily easy for me.

😔 I questioned during the last hour of the walk, “why am I making this journey, and should I stop”?

So, I stopped. I stopped an hour outside of Estella, right before the finish line. I sat with myself and reflected on why I was here… 

I am here for the challenge. I am here for solitude. I am here for healing. I am here to remember my dad. I am here to have a spiritual experience through movement. I am here… because I feel called. 

I am here because I want to be and, no one was forcing me. At some point, I recognized that my tiredness didn’t mean this journey must end but that I needed to rest. And rest is okay, I kept telling myself. 

I spoke to my boyfriend on the phone during this break to calm down. He reminded me that the pain and the tiredness would pass… like all things in life and not give up. 

So, I decided that I would continue my journey but just anticipated that it would be difficult. With the last bit of energy I had… I crossed the bridge in Estella and made it to my destination. 

Now to the beginning of my day:

I didn’t wake up feeling the best because I didn’t sleep that well last night. Even though I had a private room, my mind was spinning and quite anxious to start the walk for some reason. 

Initially, leaving the city was lovely and tranquil. I had a smile on my face as I followed the shells. 

The first quarter of my walk, I was alone and didn’t see many people on the trail. Then, slowly people started passing me and seemed to be breezing through the path. 

I have learned not to compare myself to other people from a very young age and have gotten used to people “passing me.” However, today, because I was tired of observing people breeze up the hills, it slightly hurt my ego.

I was questioning if my body could handle what I was setting it up to do? Maybe I’m not as strong as I think I am! 

Yes, I am accomplishing walking every day, but I pondered I should be hobbling to my goal, or should I be going through the finish line skipping? 

I am improving, though. Yes, my cardiovascular strength does not seem to be the best when going uphill. However, every day I feel a little bit stronger!

Today I focused on my rhythm and walking pattern to see if it helped me move up the hills faster. 

The water today was sunny, and I ended up having about two liters of water by the time I got to the city! 

In terms of details about the walk and less about my emotional state:

This walk was scenic in terms of seeing small towns!  So there were a few options if one wanted to down for lunch and rest. 

I rested in one of these cute towns and had some of my sandwiches! I got a bocadillo with egg and onions from my hostel. It was delicious, especially with my BBQ sauce! At this rest stop, there was also a bathroom. It was spotless and even had Wi-Fi!

The landscape was filled with sweeping views of wheat. Which I just want to frolic! 

I also saw olive oil trees. Well, I have seen before today but just identified that they were olive trees. It reminded me of olive oil orchards in California. 

I also walked past my first grape vineyard (that I noticed 😂).  I was attempting a selfie-and was again interrupted by a nice guy from Spain! Haha, me taking selfies in front of fields seems always to spark conversation! 

I learned so much from him! Sergio is from La Mancha, whose grandfather owns a farm. He told me about the region of La Mancha that was made famous in the book Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Now maybe I will pick up the book that’s been on my reading list since high school. La Mancha is known for wine, more recently almonds, manchego cheese, and watermelon! 

I was so enthralled in the conversation; I didn’t realize I was panting to keep up with his vast strides. So, I told him, “okay, Sergio from La Mancha… I can’t keep up with you; go ahead!”

He seemed impressed with my admittance and told me that I was humble and honest about my limits. It was timely he told me all those things because the whole theme of my walk was respecting my limits. He told me that it was good I was going at my own pace. 

He slowed down, and we ended up talking for five more minutes about how the people of Northern Spain are mountain people and are conditioned for these climbs. For example, it is their culture to head on a hike instead of the gym. I have observed this and appreciate that aspect of the culture in this region. 

Sergio went ahead, and I was left with my thoughts, the hills, listening to my company audiobook. 

I took pictures of doors, doors knockers, and plants to pass the time! 😊

There was a pleasant surprise along the way. There was some sort of community rest stop and garden that a local young man started. He was music playing; he had benches for pilgrims and even food and drinks. I made a small donation. I didn’t stop but picked up a box of orange juice. It was a friendly vibe and energy along the wall and could be something to look forward to. I hope he continues it!

Once again, the Camino gives you what you need. As I listened to my audiobook with one part of my brain, the other part was daydreaming of an ice bath for my feet. I kept thinking of every possibility to get my feet in ice, haha.

No lie, I said to myself, “if only there were a river nearby.” Then suddenly, I see a small bridge in the distance and hear running water!!!

I saw a small stream of water. It looked fresh and clean. I asked a man with his young son, who I had seen about twice at various stages on my walk, if the water was clean. He said, “no to drink, but yes to dip my toes in.” 

I trusted him because he had a small shell and arrow tatted on both claves. Haha, I figure he has done these many times and is still alive.

I ran so fast to the mouth of the stream and dipped my feet in the water for about twenty minutes. It was a blessing. It was so cold and refreshing. It was indeed what I needed. 

I was sad to leave but knew I needed to get to my hostel. So, as I said above, I rested in the town right before Estella and finished my sandwich.

I reached Estella and headed straight to the Día supermarket to buy fruit items for lunch tomorrow. 

I bought some fresh orange juice and even oatmeal. So, we’ll see how that goes or how heavy my bag will be. 

I am staying at Alda Hostel! Which is incredible. There are even elevators 😢. The kitchen is closed, but there is a lounge with a microwave and restaurant downstairs. The view out the window is a beautiful square with a fountain. It’s how modern hostels should be done. 

It’s empty, and I am in a female-only bunk room for 8. Right now, I’m the only girl in my dorm, and it’s 5 pm. So, it seems like I have the space to myself! The hostel is very quiet, very clean and calm, and I’m just going to read for the night. This is not my most positive post, but it’s an honest one. I hope tomorrow will be better! 

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