Day 16 Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

This is a long one 😕 So a intro quick summary of my day: 

  • I cried for an hour (from happiness). 
  • I got lost and ended up in a random town, that added an hour to my journey.
  • I almost passed out from dehydration. 
  • But! One of my best walking days yet!

This morning I left the hostel feeling really pumped up and ready to walk because of my forced rest day yesterday. My neck was feeling a tinyyyy bit better. Which I was fine, as long as it wasn’t getting worse. 

Yet, it was still very irritated. I came up with a system of wearing a long silk scarf, under my wide brim hat and it layered around my neck and down into my shirt. I also send my bookbag ahead to Santo Domingo. So all I had was a small bag full of snacks, a water bottle with electrolytes and my hiking poles!

I left the hostel very early, around 6M.  I really like leaving early, because it’s very quiet and cool. Especially being from the city, being out before the crack of dawn is the only time the city feels still and peaceful. 

There was only one other pilgrim that I saw! 

Leaving the city was pretty straightforward. It was a little confusing at a certain point because where the stage play is set up by the church cuts off the walking route. So I had to go around that and then I was on the right path.

While I walked, I devoured my oatmeal and smiled at all the sights when leaving the city. Leaving Najera is very beautiful because there were many small batches of “forest”. There were also these gigantic rock formations that reminded me of my road trips throughout Utah and Death Valley. It just feels otherworldly, and almost alien like. 

I felt so much joy as I was reminded of beautiful road trips I had in the states. That in combination with the feeling of freedom I was just so full of emotion this morning. The entire first hour of my walk, I just took my time walking and sometimes sat off the side of the road a view times to take in how the sun slowly rose to illuminate the vineyards and the trees and hills in the distance. Everything and every feeling felt heightened. 

I also was playing some really beautiful instrumental music, so I was really in my feelings. I felt so full of life. I felt like life was radiating off of me, and I was also radiating off of it. Then I started crying and laughing from feeling so happy! I felt so emotional. My cries were filled with all the complexities and complications and contradictions of the human experience. But at the end of the day, i was crying simply because I was just so grateful to be alive.

This beginning stretch  felt very special. I would leave every day from that city at six o’clock just to experience what I felt. Over and over, and live in that moment. I felt hope, which is sometimes the most precious feeling that a human can feel. I have felt very hopeless before in my life, so I think just feeling so refreshed and renewed was special. 

On top of this I was completely alone. And I think that’s the incredible part about nature and about this walk… that you can feel as if you have it all to yourself, and sometimes you really need to feel that. 

Some times passed and I was probably so caught up in my walk, that I wasn’t paying attention well to the signs. I do remember passing Asofra. Then I remember these beautiful vineyards and cascading hills and mountain tops, and flowers. I even stopped in a vineyard to take a few self portrait photos, which is something I haven’t really done. I felt like I had all the time in the world, and I gave myself the space to feel that.

Then I got lost. Haha. Somehow I up in a small town called Alesanco. I knew I was lost because many of the habitants of the town were looking at me very friendly, but they looked a little perplexed and confused. I also realized I was lost because I saw no one for at least 30 minutes. In total I tacked on an extra hour of walking 😬. I was a little disappointed because I was starting to feel a little tired and couldn’t find a place to get more water and to get some breakfast. 

So I eventually got on the right path and the path was the new “normal” scenery of dirt roads covered with pebbles. Which is really tough on my ankles so that was kind of treacherous. There was a stretch where I got really dizzy all of a sudden, but it came out of nowhere because I didn’t feel any hunger pains and my mouth wasn’t dry. I don’t know what happened. 

But I found myself walking in a zigzag, and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by the brightness of the sun, and just how  monotonous the landscape was. I felt like I was in a desert and I didn’t know which way I was going. A very weird out of body experience, and I’m still not really sure what happened. I knew I needed to get cool, hydrate, and eat. 

So, I found a tree by the luck of God! it was a small tree, but it had enough shade, and it was right over this cold pipe with running water. 😅So I sat on the cold pipe and it cooled me down. I had to be wise with how much  electrolyte water to drink because it didn’t look like there would be any water fountains coming up anytime soon. I had no more food but a little bit of cashews. Although the cashews kind of helped with energy, I also felt my mouth get a tad more dry. 

So I kind of started panicking, but I’ve worked through having panic attacks before…so I know that a big thing is, you can make yourself even more scared. So I calmed myself down, and I started walking again. I had to meditate on every footsteps until I got to the next water point. 

I told myself “You can’t pass out here. That would be horrible and embarrassing. And you can’t do that to your boyfriend, he would be very worried about you.” 

I looked at the map and I saw that there was a golf course coming up soon. So I figured, okay, just make it to the golf course! That was 30 minutes more of  walking. But then I found water fountain at the top of this hill!!!! 

I literally stayed at this water fountain, which was around these beautiful canopy trees with benches for probably 30 minutes. I also realized I had to use the bathroom really bad so I did that, and then I  was on my way. 

I passed the golf course, which is really nice. And through this town called Cirinuela that reminded me of the suburbs in the United States. It was a completely manufactured town and very modern.  I appreciated that it had all the amenities that I guess people would need on a vacation. There were pools, and a rec center. Very nice. I just love seeing normal life in Spain. I also noticed many properties that were for sale!

And there were of course, small little beautiful details throughout the town that I noticed like: the number signs on doors, abandoned buildings, and benches. After leaving this town, then came maybe the hardest stretch of the walking for the day, because it was just loooooong roads through wheat fields. There  was no shade. 

I remember I looked ahead at a long stretch road and told myself “wow. that road is for me, and I am gonna walk all of” 

And that’s what I did! I was very focused and I had this amazing rhythm going with my sticks. I even turned off my music and just focused on the sound of the wind and the trees whistling and the sound of my feet on the ground. 

Getting into the city center felt like it took forever! I walked past huge crates of potatoes and a structure called parka del Santo. The beginning of Santo Domingo is very industrial, and there’s many different industries, from what I can see. 

Finally I get into Santa Domingo, the proper town, and of course it’s another beautiful place. I walked around a little bit. I picked up these famous pastries that I saw on one of the apps to buy, called ahorcaditos and some moist looking cake. 

Then, I checked into the most amazing hostel, called Carpe Viem, ran by a Brazilian family. Had my own room and bathroom and all was very clean! There’s a small kitchen with a Keurig for 1E. They were so incredible and kind. 

I had a nice meal around the corner at Casa Amparo. The rice with mushrooms was delicious. The cod was very salty 🥺 but I would recommend this restaurant, it was pretty good. 

I rested for a little bit and showered. Then I tried to go to the famous with the roosters. However, when I got to the cathedral, I realized that I forgot my money so I could not get in. Then I  went back to my hostel to snack on corn chips and sleep! I plan on leaving early again,  my next stop is Belorado. All in all I had a really good day, many highs and lows as usual, but that’s what I’m here for! 

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