Buenos Dias, amigos. We hope you are all doing well. Here, it is hot! Leaving around 6:30 a.m. helps beat the heat and gives us time to arrive early and explore a new village or town or just shower and relax.
We walked through villages and fields. On the Way we met a pilgrim from Japan. Here is Craig’s Facebook description: “Thinking of Joseph Gerson when I met this woman from Hiroshima, Japan. Her mother is a 99 year old survivor of the bombing in 1945 and so she is a second generation survivor. So meaningful to meet her here.”
Steep hills are still the challenge. Photos cannot convey the steepness of the terrain. We have some helpful profile charts with elevation markers to help us know the difficulty of the hike ahead of time. It’s not flat.
Viana, is a bustling and spread out town, much bigger than I thought. My pension in the historic district is far away from Craig’s Albergue, (at least the roundabout route I walked) even though they are both on or very close to the Camino. I used a GPS app on my phone to climb yet another hill and wind through narrow streets, past a historical church and busy square to find my accommodation and asked once for directions. It was a maze, and I was surprised by church bells ringing at noon, impressive architecture and so many people sharing lunch at outdoor cafes. The Church of the Assumption of Santa Maria is stunning. I didn’t have enough room to back up and include the entire massive building in my picture. 13th century gothic temple, declared National Monument in 1931.
We walked all over Viana. There are many Farmacias here and all along the Camino. Las Farmacias on the Way have every product, device, and more for pilgrim’s health problems. Pain, headaches, stomach upsets, BLISTERS, more blisters, sprains, and every stress ailment or injury you can think of might find relief at la farmacia. The picture of the pharmacy window is a great example of availability. You will find farmacias in very small villages, as well as towns and cities. Pilgrims are ingenious in sharing remedies and advice. But los farmaceuticos are even more helpful and reliable!
Another surprise was meeting up with an American pilgrim couple who live in the same California town, Covina, where Irene grew up. Fun catching up on places I haven’t seen in decades. We shared a scrumptious Pilgrim Dinner and have been finding it relatively easy to be a vegetarian on the Camino.
My windows are open and I hear the music of the street, children playing, women and men living their lives. Mostly in Espanol, but all day I am privileged to converse with pilgrims speaking a multitude of languages. We connect in some way that is different from the expected understanding fluent conversation might allow. Perhaps it is the universal language of the heart. According to a guidebook, Los Arcos to Viana is the last stage on the Navarre Way. We will be entering the province of La Rioja and the city of Logrono next. The last few days have filled us with steep hills and dusty, rocky paths, vineyards and wheat fields, Roman roads, walls and ruins, historical churches and stories. What is next? So far these 12 days of hiking, the last week in extreme heat, are preparing us for the ever-changing landscape and surprises of the Camino. Buen Camino. Ultreia.