Hola amigos. Today we walked from Lorca to Estella, a town of 14,000 residents and a mix of old and new. Our Albergue/hostal is another break from typical albergues. I’m not, but I feel like I’ve been, in the Ritz the past two days, with very basic private rooms, en suite (where I’m staying) plus shared hostel spaces and the best showers available. I might be getting spoiled, but I’m sure there will be many more challenging days.
Our hike was fairly easy, with rolling hills, as well as flat, wide trails, and a Roman Road for a short distance. We started out with the sunrise behind us and walked through farmland, vineyards, villages with areas of new homes, alongside ancient churches and bridges, stone houses and wheat fields. The village communities often have bus stops, community gardens, playgrounds for children and adults , solar power and recycling stations.
Estella was founded along the River Ega in 1090 by King Sancho Ramirez. He diverted the Camino to pass through his city. It was once a walled city of palaces, convents and churches, but no palaces or walls remain. It is a hospitable and welcoming stopping place along the way, Stage 5 of the Camino and Los Arcos is Stage 6. The last stage, 33, is Santiago. Many Europeans spend a few weeks or less each year, starting where they left off the previous year. For others, this may be their one Camino. More about that later.
While Estella is welcoming and the road to Estella is lovely, we viewed anti-Semitic graffiti on the Way on a bridge and that was disturbing to me, especially as I felt conflicted about being Jewish and a part of this pilgrimage, before I finally decided to walk the Camino. We could see the Stars of David from afar, but the text of the graffiti was blocked out with black paint. I feel relieved that someone thought that this display of hate and anti-Semitism wasn’t acceptable and tried to erase it. So something positive and alarming at the same time. Centuries after the Inquisition that banned my ancestors, there are still signs of hate and anti-Semitism.
Tomorrow we will hike our longest distance yet, 22.5 km, a full stage to Los Arcos. There are some stages with 30+ km, but not for me. I like the way we have divided our stages into at least two sections, but that doesn’t work to Los Arcos.
We will go to the Wine Fountain, Fuente del Vino at Monasterio de la Irache, first, where wine runs freely on the Camino. A sign advises pilgrims and other visitors to drink at the fountain, but buy to take with them. And a quote from Leslie Gilmour’s 2016 Camino Santiago book, “Pilgrims, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast of happiness.” I’m not taking any chances. Here’s a toast to you, amigos, and to our Camino. Happiness and Buen Camino. Ultreia (onward) to Los Arcos.