Day 9 Estella to Villamayor de Monjardin

After a long rest day in Estella, I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day. I was motivated! I finally went to bed on time and woke up before my alarm clock, but I still went back to bed to get even more rest. 

I officially got upright when the sun started to peek out from the horizon. I looked out my bedroom window, and there was this beautiful glow illuminating the city. I took this as a symbol that maybe my day would glow as the morning sun did! 

When I left the hotel, I felt excited about a couple of things. 

  1. Using my poles for the first time
  2. new insoles in my shoes
  3. stronger legs and back
  4. The wine tap that a fried texted was coming
  5. The fact that I was taking a shorter

When I left the city, there weren’t many people in the street. I probably counted about five people in total. My pace was slow, and I appreciated how enchanting Estella was. It’s a city I will return to with family or friends.

As I walked more and more out of the historic part of the city, the sites got a tad more uninterrupted. I walked through residential areas that seemed to be newly built. There weren’t as many exciting doorknobs and door stoppers. However, I still enjoyed the glow of the sun and the mild temperature.

I did enjoy the enormous mountain peak in the view, nestled between the buildings on the way up and out of the city.

There’s also a cute little corner store that I smelled freshly baked bread coming out of on the way out of the city. So that could be a place to stop to grab a snack, water or nuts or fruit, or wherever else you might need because other places might be closed.

About 45 mins into my walk, I could tell that my mantras for the day would have to be pace, patience, and ease. 

I say that because as I was deciding to work on using my poles up a small hill after the bakery, lo and behold, I realized that a small part of my pole was missing. I was upset about that because I was like, “why is this happening? why did I lose this piece!”

I was upset because now I had to walk all the way back down this hill to find this piece. (Which in never did!) I observed myself and how upset I was getting, and, at that moment, I just accepted the situation. I was like, maybe I’m being forced to pause for a reason. So, I just surrendered, and I accepted the diversion.  

I walked back down the hill, didn’t find what I was looking for, and spotted this perfect bench under a tree canopy. I felt it calling me. I sat at that bench for five minutes, and I took a photo of the light glistening through the leaves from the fence, and I realized that it’s okay for things to hold you up, and maybe something’s happening for a reason. 

It turned out that I would need more patience, and I was about to wait even longer for something I wanted. 🙃

And it was completely unplanned. 

Of all the days on the Camino, it turned out that today was the day where there was no wine in the wine tap! Well, what happened was the wine wasn’t in the tap when it was supposed to be!

As I walked up the hill to the wine fountain, it was probably around 745 AM, and I saw a crowd of people building and waiting for wine. So I stopped a few meters before the gates and decided it was a good time to sit and relax and catch up with my boyfriend over the phone to talk about something important. 

I looked down at my phone around 8 AM when I started to hear everyone saying, “okay, this is when it should start because it says that on the wall!” 

It’s now 8:05 AM. No, wine! People start to leave, but I stay. I felt like I should, and from my lesson earlier, maybe patience is the theme for the day. So it’s around 8:30 AM, and there’s only me and one lady left far in the distance. I’m still on my phone chatting away, and it turns out this lady is a fellow Camiga, Liz McRae! 

Lisa and I chatted for a few minutes, introduced ourselves, and mentioned that she would wait till 9:00 AM because it’s when the museum opens up. And I thought to myself; you know what, I’m in no rush. My walk isn’t that long today. This is the whole purpose of me taking a breather. I already had one thing that happened to me earlier that I did not plan. This is the second thing, and maybe this is for a reason. So I waited. I waited till nine o’clock, and around nine o’clock, I saw this gentleman with a hose rushing towards the wine fountain! 

And I’m like; he looks like he works here. So, I ran up to him, greeted him, and asked when the wine would start flowing! He was kind and said, “Two minutes. Two minutes. Two minutes!”

So he proceeds to wash down the fountain with this hose, and I’m just smiling at myself. I started thinking, “wow, this is something that not many people get to experience before they open up the wine fountain.” I will attach a photo of him hosing down the fountain. He comes back and tells me “two minutes again” and runs behind the wall, runs out again, and says, “it’s on!”

And for a moment, I paused, looked around, felt awkward, and thought, “Am I going to be the first person to get the wine for today.”

I hung up the phone with my boyfriend, stood there for a moment, and reflected. At that moment, because of exercising patience, I will be able to experience this charming part of the Camino. What if I left to keep walking because I didn’t want to wait? 

Now I was able to get something that I was looking forward to. I almost rushed ahead. I almost kept walking, but I decided to wait. And now I get to open the wine tab. And that’s what I did. I turned the wine on and took the first sip for the day. That was such a powerful moment for me. And I need to remember this for the rest of my life.

I wouldn’t say I was rewarded for my patience, but I received a beautiful surprise because of it. 

I drank my cup of wine, and then Lisa came back, and she drank more wine with me. We took pictures and selfies. I had this beautiful moment with a fellow Camiga.  She taught me how to use poles. We talked about our physical limits, injures, and her running six marathons! We discussed the difference between running and walking. Btw we both concluded that every pilgrim should size up ONE sneaker size, I only size up half a sneaker, and my foot is already touching the edge of the sneaker. ☹️

And I took this wine fountain energy with me for the rest of the day. I had a few frustrating moments because I couldn’t figure out how to

use my poles uphill and downhill. Yet I stuck with it, took my time, and tried to have ease with using them and with learning and realize it’s a process. 

One of the members in the group wrote under a post that she would just tell herself, “it’s just walking,” and that’s what I kept telling myself, “it’s just walking, you’re just walking, you’re just walking.” 

I ended up stopping to take a pee break in this beautiful field because there were no bathrooms. I got tired after an uphill, and then I took another break by this industrial-looking yard, which was unlikely, and I took some incredible photos. 

Here are some details of the walk that people may want to know. 

There is a place, a city called Zurka. Well, it’s a tiny town, and they had a bar with a sign, and it seemed like they were open and active, and they had a whole bunch of stuff being offered. So I decided not to stop because I only had 45 minutes left to walk, and I wasn’t hungry, so I kept going. 

There are some hills and descent but nothing like previous days, but it was a cardiovascular workout, mainly because I had to practice with my sticks.

In terms of the walking paths, they were a mixture of narrow passages lined with local plants. Most of the trails were rocky and uneven, which I’m noticing I don’t like on my feet 😬 The walk barely had any shade because it’s mostly passing through open fields. The highlight of my walk was past acres of lavender fields!!! They were buzzing with bees, but I managed to snap a stick, and I slept with that under my pillow for the night. 🥲 if anyone knows where I can buy fresh lavender satchels, please let me know!! 

Even though I left early in the day, I still was being beamed down on by the sun, so I ended up having to wear my shades! There was a hill up to Villamayor, and I was exhausted by the end. However, I felt much stronger.  I also knew in my head that I was very close to the end. I didn’t have 12 kilometers left to walk. So, I was happy about that. 

There was an ancient-looking structure on this hill to the town; I believe it was a fountain leftover by the Moors. I took a quick little shade break inside of it. It felt a tad eerie and atmospheric inside with cobwebs and a musty smell, but I enjoyed it. After that, I walked the last couple meters to my hostel: Oasis Trails, and had to exercise more patience! 

I had two hours until they opened, so I just had lunch and listened to a podcast. My lunch idea of a bag of salad, precooked quinoa (I bought a pack of two from Dias supermarket), can tuna (with veggies in Olive oil), and mayonnaise was absolutely delicious. 

My evening in the hostel was a nice treat filled with the spirit of community. We had a dinner meal together, which I haven’t had since Roncesvalles. The dinner was hardy and tasty, the company was genuine, and my private room was clean and neat. 

I had a great conversation with Ben and Michelle about faith and spirituality. As Michelle rubbed my feet for over an hour, she told me the storybook adventure of her life, and we connected on how every step in my life truly has a purpose. 

She gave me some details on what it’s like to live in a small town like Villamayor. It’s a population of only 40 people (mostly elderly). The town population spikes during the summer months and weekends when their children visit from bigger cities. Fun facts:

There’s an ice cream that comes daily (which I experienced and delicious)

Meat truck that comes weekly 

Bread van that comes daily 

& a Grocery van that comes weekly 

There is no school in the town, so, all the small towns in the area send their children via a school bus to Estella to receive an education.

I also chatted with a fellow Camiga Magdalena from Italy!!! She told me about the region in Italy where she is from called South Tyrol, where they speak German! 

At dinner time, Magdalena and Ray toasted to happy feet, haha 

I had an inspiring conversation with Ray, my walking hero from Ireland. We bounded over life in NYC. I hope to be as active as him, no matter my age. He was in his 60s and reminded me that I could go on these adventures for the rest of my life. 

This journey is kicking off something deeper within me. I am impressed with the culture of hiking and mountain walking that I’ve observed from people that have decided to walk the Camino. As a city girl, I find it genuinely inspiring. 

I retired for the night to finish reading the last of my book from Julia Quinn. I am not sure where I will walk tomorrow, but most likely, it’s Torres del Rio. I had a rich and fulfilling day!

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