Day 15 Unexpected rest day in Najera 

The one day I was physically prepared to walk, I was not able to. I was hesitant to write this post because it was a tough morning for me. The day started dramatically. I can laugh at it now, but it was kind of… horrific.

I slept so bad last night. The cause of this was an irritation/rash that’s slowly developed on the creases of my neck. 

My neck was BURNING me throughout the night. First, it was dry and itchy. Then, I think in my slumber, I must have deeply scratched my neck and further irritated my neck. After that, my whole neck and chest were on FIRE. 🥺 It was so painful and uncomfortable that I woke up in the dark panicked. I was scared that my throat was going to close in on itself. Or I was afraid that I was having a severe allergic reaction to something else.

I was like: “maybe all the bread is getting to me. Is it the sheets, is it my clothes, did I breathe in mold?!”

I just began questioning everything. 

I was more scared because I couldn’t find my Benadryl. Then my thoughts went to “What if I die tonight by asphyxiation because I can’t breathe anymore. I’ve had mini panic and anxiety attacks. In those situations, I have learned how to calm myself down and always have my boyfriend help me. But, now I was alone, and the reality that I was alone gripped me, and I realized that no one would come to save me. 

So eventually, I gathered myself. I just knew that if I continued to “hype myself up” mentally, I might worsen this situation. So somehow, I just paused, did some deep breaths, and I told myself to calm down and that “nothing was going to happen to me, just relax.” So I relaxed a bit, and a voice said to me that I needed a wet rag to wrap around my neck. And that’s what I did, and it provided me so much comfort.

It was incredible, and I ended up being able to fall asleep. But by the time my alarm clock went off at 5:30, to start my walk early… I was a mess. I sat up in bed, and I was so tired, disheveled, and not rested.  I decided that I was in no condition to get up early to walk because I barely slept. I went back to bed and got up around 8:30. Finally, I was more rested, but then I looked at my neck, and it looked horrible. At that point, I realized that I would not be able to wear my bag and that I would need to send my pack ahead. 

So I rushed to fix my bag for the service because my hostel had this service. However, while I was getting assistance from Anna (the front desk lady), I looked at my reflection in her eyes. She looked concerned. Then I looked at myself, and I was concerned, haha 

I knew I was in no condition to walk 😕

It was clear that my neck needed rest from the sun and sweating. It seemed I needed to just relax for the day. Again, the opposite of what I wanted to do.

So, I just accepted the day for what it was, which is what the Camino has taught me more and more. 

I did need to get my neck squared away and get some relief because I was walking around still with the wet rag around my neck. I was on a mission to go to the pharmacy and speak to the pharmacist to see if there was something else wrong with my neck. I was also frustrated because I have this essential oil tincture I’ve created and used for everything, and I knew it would give me relief, but I didn’t bring it in my bag because of weight. Next time, I will consider it part of my first aid kit. 

Anyway, the pharmacist looked at my neck, and she did feel as if it was the chlorine water like I thought, but the sun, dry skin from the pool, sweat, and the constant rubbing from my bookbag. So I still think it was a combination of those elements and the chlorine that destroyed my neck. 

I ended up buying an aloe vera jelly, couldn’t find the fresh one anywhere (but could dream of how cool it would feel on my neck 🥲). She also gave me three samples of a very hydrating cream to nourish the area. I was told to keep using the antihistamine cream and use the aloe and the moisturizing creams to soothe the itching. 

I had to salvage the rest of my day and didn’t want to be upset with not walking, so I decided to explore Najera, which I liked a lot!

I decided just to do all the things that the receptionist told me the day before. 

The first mission was to get a delicious meal and sit on a Terrance. I wanted food from less of a touristy place and more of a local business. Anna said I should go to Trece; she recommended the calamari, lamb, and pork dishes. 

I catch the Menu del día around 2 pm. I got a mixed salad, chicken breasts with French fries,  calamari, and orange soda. The food was excellent. I expected a little bit more from the chicken breasts, but it hit the spot. Also, the mixed salad was outstanding! It was my favorite so far. 

My Terrence view was superb. It was a few steps from the river and near this beautiful looking canopy/gazebo thing (I’m not sure what it’s called). It was perfect for people watching local Spaniards too. I enjoy that in every town locals connect with each other to enjoy their leisure time. I appreciate going to these smaller towns and observing how community-oriented they are.  It’s like everyone knows each other. It reminded me of my neighborhood growing up before gentrification. So it brought back a lot of feelings of nostalgia. It also made me hope that I can form and be part of a community one day. 

I then decided it was time for me to go to the river, but I went to check out the pool before that!

Anna told me how beautiful the pool was, so I to see it for myself. She was not lying! The pool is gorgeous. The recreational facilities are excellent, and even a sprawling green lawn surrounds the circular pool. There’s a restaurant with a great menu. The front desk lady at the pool was also super kind.  

Then I set off for the river! Ahhhh incredible.  My poor feet needed the soak. I think I sat there for an hour. Haha, It was a clean, serene, and cold (good for feet) river. The Park around the river had a massive well-kept lawn, which was empty and quiet. There were also giant, elegant trees for shade, and the entire area had super calming energy. I needed it. I highly recommend everyone to spend time at this river if you’re in the city. 

Then it was time to cross over the small

bridge to the Old Town.  I was SUPER excited about the monastery. The monastery opened at 4 pm, and I got there at like 4:10 pm. So I spent probably one hour exploring!

I had such an incredible time there. It just reminded me of how much I love history, culture, and the intersection of religion with both. It’s truly an exploration of how we have come to be as people: our civilizations, “borders”, and practices. 

I also enjoyed the monastery because I love to imagine all the people that stepped through its doors. I look at the gigantic doors and just think of the people kept in, and the people kept out. 

I also love old structures, especially religious ones, because they can have many different meanings depending on the person. Just seeing how much energy humans put into making a mark and making these buildings last… is fascinating. 

The fact that they’re still around?! Modern marvels? 

Every town on the Camino has a major significance to the history of the pilgrimage but just the history of Spain! Navarrete, in particular, is steeped in history and purpose.  The monastery was built as a symbol that Christianity won out after removing Muslim invaders from this part of Spain. 

There’s so much that I can’t even get into, but I recommend everyone to go to the monastery!!! There’s an audio tour that’s available in English. If you download an app, then you will have access to all the audio chapters. The app is suitable for many museums all over the world, which I did not know. The excellent guide and handbook for the monastery were informative. 

I spent my time in the monastery looking at every small detail and taking lots of photos. I loved the old tomb structures—the old doors. The church alters. On this trip, I haven’t been able to take self-portrait photography like I usually do. So I experimented a little bit with my self-timer and had a lot of fun capturing myself in the space. My self-portraits are on my blog, but I’ll just post a couple here. Imagine this girl from Brooklyn in this monastery in the middle of Spain is out of this world! 

After leaving the monastery, I roamed around the old part of town again, taking in more sights. Finally, I found the stage where the Medieval play is held! It was so empty and quiet in the old city, and it was like I had the streets to myself. 

Then, I decided it was time for me to come back to my hotel because I was so dusty and dirty from the day. So, I got back to my hotel room, and I just read for the rest of the evening and relaxed. Then, I looked at some Netflix and prepared myself for tomorrow. 

Tomorrow, I will be heading to Santo Domingo and will be sending my bag ahead. So that should be very interesting. So today was a very unpredictable and unconventional day. BUT it was very grounding because it reminded me that this is the spirit of the Camino, accepting what it gives you. 

I am still just learning so much about the rich history of this pilgrimage, and the rich history of every region that I’m walking through, and how much stuff has happened over the hundreds of years that it’s been around.

My neck was still a mess by nighttime, but the sample moisturizing lotion did provide some comfort. Also, my neck wants to be constantly covered.

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