Day 5: Mañeru – Villamayor: 17.5 miles
We got up early, again awakened by other rustling pilgrims, feeling awake, and got started walking about 30 minutes before twilight. I have a feeling this may become our pattern. We promptly passed through the next town, Cirauqui, built upon a hilltop, as daylight started setting in. We enjoyed our night in our previous sleepy town, but perhaps we should have continued on a little further the day before, as this town had a stage in a plaza littered with beverage cups. We would have been able to join a big street party!
We progressed on to Estella and walked into its central plaza to enjoy a late breakfast /early lunch. We walked through its outlying suburbs, and on the edge of town, came upon a winery that welcomes pilgrims by providing drinking spouts – one with water, and one with wine! We filled one of our small bottles with wine, and kept going, glad to find the Camino going back into nature for a while under a canopy of low trees. The day was perfectly cool weather, but clear skies, such that the sun was still warm with a sun burn threat.
There’s a number of villages scattered across the hillsides, that are dominated by agricultural fields – mostly wheat and grape vines. We settled on the Hogar in Villamayor as the place to spend the night. We were glad we arrived as early as we did, for the place filled up shortly after we claimed beds, and they were turning pilgrims away. We’ve learned that many pilgrims have made the same decision we did – hearing that July – August were the hottest and busiest months on the Camino, they’ve decided to walk in September. While the month is less hot, according to the albergue staff I’ve talked to, it has been busier than the summer months. We ARE in the busy season, not a shoulder season!
Villamyor is on a beautiful slope of a larger mount called Monjardin, which is topped off by a castle from the days of liberating Spain from the Moors. After dropping off our packs and resting a bit, Kim and I walked up to it, 3 miles round trip, to enjoy the views and make it back down just as a little rain storm hit. We’ve been very fortunate with weather so far – most clear days with good temperature, and when we have gotten harder rain, we’ve been off the Camino under shelter. We feel like we’ve been doing great so far, and making our anticipated progress, although we are starting to feel the sore feet and shoulders, and Kim’s heel blister still need sto heal. But overall, we’re doing great.