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Camino de Santiago, Day 14: Navarette to Ciruena

Hostel in Navarette

Hostel in Navarette, Spain.  My bed was right by the circular window.

Today was a long one.

I walked like I had firecrackers at my heels.  I had energy and I didn’t stop until I nearly dropped.  I wanted to work some emotion out of my system and that I did!

I started at 6:30 am.  I was alone almost the entire day.  But I don’t feel alone on the Camino.  There are millions of spirits walking with me.

The first few miles, I was walking on a gravel trail beside the highway and my only aim was to avoid stepping on the many worms and snails making their crossings.  It was scenic after that, despite the almost constant rain.  I was soaking wet but happy.  Some trails were super muddy which was not a ton of fun.  Just one heavy foot, loaded with sticky mud, in front of the other.

I stopped for a cafe con leche in a big town called Najera, an important medieval city.  Over the town are craggy red rock cliffs with caves in them that I was told were used as medieval passageways.  I couldn’t take pictures because it was pouring rain.

For the first time on the Camino, I tried listening to music and ridiculously perhaps (for a dreary rainy day) listened to Simon and Garfunkel which quickly led to a cry-fest of gigantic proportions.  But it was fine because my tears joined the raindrops and there was nobody around to make me feel embarrassed.  It was like $5000 worth of therapy in half-an-hour on the Camino.  Then that passed.

I walked through desolate little villages.  Inhabited ghost towns.  The red poppies are almost gone now.  Just vineyards and wheat.

The last few miles were often uphill and at one point I just started laughing because of how ridiculous it was.  Every time I went around the corner, there was more “up”.

Walking into Ciruena was bizarre.  Hundreds of new dwellings.  Clean new streets.  A golf course.  And not a soul around.  This was the most depressing post-apocalyptic place I had seen yet.  Perhaps a very poorly-timed housing development gone bust.  Further on, I entered the old town which was made of at least 70% abandoned ancient buildings.  Roofs caved in.  Ancient timbers rotted and fallen.  Stone walls crumbling.  Clearly, hard times had hit this area.

I checked into a weird hostel run by a man with a face like a Picasso painting from the cubist period.  Odd angles.  I was so happy there was an empty bed in the town.   So tired, I would have stayed in a snake’s den.  I dropped my stuff and went to the only open bar to eat something.

There I met Artur, who is from Poland and is doing the Camino for the second time.  He spent his teenage Summers in Connecticut helping at a friends resort and so his English was great.  I asked him initially “Why are you walking the Camino?” and he said “Do you have to ask the tough questions right at the start?”, to which I replied “What’s your name?”  It seems that many people walk the Camino after breakups or sad periods and so I didn’t probe further.  He said he liked to walk alone and so he started walking late every day and was soon off to walk another 10 kilometers.  Unfortunately, he forgot his poles, which required me to run (“hobun” would be a more accurate verb for this hobbling /run) after him and deliver his poles.  He was very thankful and wanted a picture of “his American friend on the Camino”.  He asked me to say “hi from Artur” if I ran into two young soccer players from Kentucky.

Back at the bar, I ran into Darren from South Africa and Meme from Canada.  We talked for a few hours and it was fun to share our experiences on the Camino and more about our lives.  Two cool people.

At 9 pm, I “hobuned” back to my hostel to discover two new people in my room: a young and vibrant Marisel from Holland and a funny young guy from Italy.  When I was relaying my Simon and Garfunkel crying experience of the day, he broke into the theme song from the “Happy Days” TV show.  We all laughed hysterically.

Today I walked 31 kilometers ( 19.07 miles).

Photos of the day:



  1. I have been catching up on reading several days at once…I hope your feet get better soon but I admire your determination and willingness to feel all that you are feeling. The flowers photo from today is lovely. xxoo

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