Day 7: Viana – Najera: 24 miles
Friday, September 16, 2016: Departed: 7:00am, Arrived 5:30pm
Upon waking up, for the first time, we enjoyed the breakfast provided by our albergue (which mainly consists of drinks, bread and jam). I took advantage of it and had and coffee and juice. The extra fluid intake revealed itself as we approached and passed through Logroño, as I had to make many “serendipitous” urgent bathroom stops along the way – only one of them being an actual bathroom – a pastry shop where we stopped for our 2nd breakfast.
The weather, like the day before was overcast and cool, only getting sunshine upon it’s initial sunrise when it peaked beneath the clouds. The cloudy skies thickened and when we passed through Navarett, it turned into a persistent drizzly rain. Enough so that for the first time, I broke out the “rain gear” I brought: a $1 super thin yellow poncho. It wasn’t so nice as the thicker ones many of the other pilgrims had, but it did the trick pretty well keeping me dry.
We were happy to finally reach our planned destination in the village of Ventosa at 2:30, and get out of the rain and wind, but we promptly learned that the few lodging options in town had already filled up about 30 mins earlier. We knew this was happening to Pilgrim’s along the Camino, with September being a very popular month, so we weren’t too surprised, but definitely disheartened at the prospect of adding another 6 miles to our already 18, to get to the next town. We stopped at a café to get a snack and strategize. I felt the pressure of “trying to figure things out” and became flustered as the café became crowded and noisy with wet Pilgrims, and my calling app to make local calls via wifi was not working, to try to call ahead to ensure we would have a place in the next town. Until now, we had made no attempt to make reservations, as we wanted the serendipity of the Camino, and it has been kind of a point of contention among some pilgrims, whether to book ahead or just walk up. This is when Kim, who had actually been down-hearted and frustrated in the morning, at her ongoing sore/blistered feet, rose to the occasion. She responded to my annoyance with calmness and charming struck up a conversation with some nearby pilgrims from France who kindly loaned us their phone. She called an Albergue in Najera, and promptly reserved us beds. She also said her body and spirit were doing well and she was fine to do another 6 miles. Also to our fortune, in the hour we spent in Ventosa trying to figure things out, the rain had diminished and we were able to continue on the way both dry and in good spirits .
We arrived to Najera, and found our reserved albergue. All they had left were private rooms, which we were happy to treat ourselves to. We did laundry (partly because all our clothes had been worn, but also out of fear we might be carrying bed-bugs – I’ve had bites showing up on me). We then walked around town and found a restaurant with the pilgrim’s menu and we sat inside in the warmth. Near the end of the meal, it hit me, both as “awareness” and physically. We had been joking at how abnormally often I had to pee on the trail, but since the morning juices, I had not even touched my water bottle, and only had a glass of wine on the way. Where were all the fluids coming from? During the whole day, and even into the night, I felt physically fine, and never felt thirsty (it was already a cool, damp day), so I never reached for my bottle. About the time I noted that they only served us wine at the dinner, and not water, that’s when I became light headed and nearly fainted. I had to lay down on the restaurant bench for a while with feet elevated to get the blood back to my head. It felt like it came from nowhere, but we think it was dehydration over a long day that finally hit me. When I felt better, we came back to our private room which we enjoyed all the more – to not be disturbing other pilgrims or being disturbed by them, and got probably the best night’s sleep of the trip.