Let’s start at the end of the day, of which Los Arcos was the destination. I arrived expecting to check in about 4:30 only to discover that my hotel was not a cute little inn in the center of the old town but a roadside motel about 2 miles on the opposite side of town. I was with two other pilgrims who had no reservations anywhere and we were hurrying as fast as our sore feet permitted to beat approaching thunderstorms. They went off to the local alberge. I wandered off the Camino onto city streets and then highways thinking my dying phone somehow had the wrong address. Then it started pelting down rain. I finally realized my hotel was part of a gas station convenience store. It helped little that four other pilgrims were staying at this same place with gasoline pumps our only view. Meanwhile, the other two pilgrims found a place in the center of town and texted me that they were eating paella and squid. A pilgrim must believe: the Camino will provide!
OK. Back to the start of the day. The night in the alberge was amazingly quiet once the church bell across the street went off-air at 11 pm. No snorers or sleepwalkers or falling out of bed. I was up and out the door by 6:30 and a full moon helped guide me on my way. I made good time before the sun came up, even finding a table with toast and olive oil with a sign saying “Para los peregrinos”. I went through Lorca and encountered two of my roommates, a couple from Puerto Rico. We continued on to Villatuerta where we had a great breakfast. We split up and I went to Estella and visited a few churches. Michener writes about Estella, but I am not sure what attracted him to this place. I must have missed it, but I did find a Supermercado to buy bananas to keep my potassium levels up.
I then came to the well known winery in Iracha where they have two spigots: one with red wine and one with water. You are supposed to use your scallop shell (which every pilgrim carries) to sip wine from. Well, my scallop shell was so small and so well attached to my backpack, that I had to come up with an alternative, not having a wine glass handy.
I should have opted for the water! The wine was very young, had seen neither barrel nor bottle and the bit that remained in my water bottle cap tainted the taste of my water for the rest of the day! Not good marketing. Later I met a local man who recommended Iñuriati winery, in particular a blend called Puro Vicio. It was a fortuitous meeting because he showed me a beautiful mountain trail whereas most people take a treeless path alongside the highway.
My plan was to get to get to Villamayor de Monjardin no later than 1 pm because it is an 8 mile push to Los Arcos with no rest areas or trees. I found a place where I could take off my shoes and socks and rest and cool my feet for half an hour. I was about an hour behind schedule but not concerned, even though the distant sky was darkening. You know the rest of the story.
Tomorrow: Logoño, capital of the Rioja wine country. I have a reservation for a place and I made sure it is smack in the center of where I want to be. Wanna know the name? Tune in tomorrow!