Day 10, Ventosa to Azofra, Oct 8

We had good intentions to start early. We were all out of bed by 6:30 but somehow things dragged. This was our third or fourth day that we have used the luggage transfer services. For a couple of days, we used a big white garbage bag which Linda and I stored clothes and other items we wouldn’t need during the day. That probably took three to five  pounds off my back and the same for her. Every albergue has luggage transportation services. You pick up a pre-printed envelope, write the destination on it, stuff it with €5 (@$7.50) and tie it to your luggage you want to be transported and magically it is at your destination when you arrive. Since we bought a proper bag with handles Mats now adds a few of his things. Then we proceed to fill the empty backpack space with bottles of wine, tins of olives, jars of white asparagus, sausage, cheese and baguettes. So weightwise we haven’t had much load taken off our backs, but our picnics have improved.
Somehow, between Logroño and here we had become a pilgrim family: Linda, myself, Mats and Steffen and we now started consulting each other. We decided on a destination, we shared the transportation luggage bag, we bought picnic dinners, and we decided to always look for breakfast cafes.
We left by 7:45 and went 5 minutes before stopping at a café for breakfast. Luckily it was at that point that Mats realized he had left his phone on recharge back at the albergue. Despite our early start we finally started walking at 8:30, but time wasn’t an issue today. We had an option to go either 25k to an albergue that Mats had stayed at and warned us that the man who ran it was very scary and he did not want to stay there again. Steffen has been having problems with his foot and leg thought 25k was too much. The alternative was only to go 15k which suited me just fine.
Last night, after I posted to my blog, Linda and I were sitting in the lobby where the internet connection was best. The kind young women who served us the water was gone, replaced by a stern housefra.  Linda said she had already been chastised twice by the housefra. We were in her territory so we were quiet as mice tapping away on our keyboards.  There was a bit of a commotion that I ignored at first but finally couldn’t. A French man had been dropped off by taxi. The housefra (German) didn’t speak much French and he didn’t speak much German and asked if we spoke French and could we translate. ‘Un peu’ Linda replied and then we both were blasted by a torrent of French, to which the housefra replied ‘you cannot stay here!’ And then she turned to us ‘He cannot stay here! He arrived by car. It is not allowed’.
The exchange went back and forth with them both looking to us from time to time but it was clear they both understood each other. I gathered he had walked but then injured his leg and was dropped off at the albergue. ‘Nein, you must go hotel’. And that was that. Despite his large stature and a good excusehe was no match for her and the rules.

I kept my head down to stay out of it, but Linda stood up for the man, even after he left. The housefra turned to us once he was gone ‘It is the rules’. And Linda in her gentle way ‘I realize that but it is the tone.’ Good for her!!

Within 2 km we had a steep climb up Alto San Antón. The path was like a creek bed with small rounded boulders formed by rivers of pilgrims and the dirt washed away by rain. But once on top, we had grand vista views to where we had come from and where we were headed.
We walked for more than 10 km in wine country. Hillside after hillside we walked between rows of grapes with the odd olive tree plantation.  The grape vines are wide enough for a tractor to plough the space between them, but the gap is full of rocks – ploughed rocks.  So many rocks that it almost appears that they have poured the rocks on top of the soil, but nearby empty fields show just as many rocks.  I wonder if the rocks act as a mulch.

At  Nájara a high red cliff peered over the town, and we finally realized we had to go up it. Because it is an ancient pilgrim route (la Ruta) that we follow, it is through old villages and the older parts of towns, which shields us from the new industrial or suburban areas.
Time on trail: 6hrs
Weather: cool morning, warm afternoon. Perfect.
Distance travelled: 15k
Distance to go
Food: tortilla (potatoes and egg pie), café con  leche, small toasted baguette with fried egg, ham and cheese (the runny egg yolk escaped onto the table), and a picnic of avocado, tomatoes, baguettes, blue cheese, apple, olives, white asparagus.
Lesson learned: Tourists demand, pilgrims thank.
Feeling: Pretty good!

Aches and pains: blisters have less icky stuff to drain. That’s probably a good thing.

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