Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thursday, April 30: Today is a Gift

Ayer es historia.
Manaña es misteria.
Hoy es un regalo.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. Today was gloriosa.

It was so easy to get organized and to get out early this morning because the Refugio Santiago Apostol where we stayed just outside of Puente La Reine was so spacious. At 5:45am we took our packs and gear out into the massive common room and had them packed and on our backs and ready to go before 6:30am. Our get out the door time gets better each day as we are starting to perfect our system. And, just in case anyone thinks we´re rushing things, it should be noted that we are rarely the first to leave. And I know why, the early hours of the morning are the best time to walk.

We left the refugio before daylight walking out into the dark, shadowy morning, crossing the silent streets of the still sleeping pueblo and heading out onto the natural dirt paths which were to take us through the serene country farmlands. It was nice to have the morning to ourselves and there was finally such a sense of being a pilgrim. The chill in the air felt more inviting than threatening and we´ve learned that it´s only ever chilly until the first steep climb of the morning, which always comes early. Just like the game Rock, Paper, Scissors, hill beats chill everytime and it´s not long before we´re sweating. Puente La Reina looked a little weary when we passed through it yesterday but every town we came to today stuck out of the hilly farmlands like a picture perfect postcard. Mañeru, Cirauqui, Lorca and Villatuerta; each one more picturesque than the one before. Finding a taberna for an midday café con leche, pastel and té is always a treat and we were rewarded with a great spot in Villafuerta.

We walked 22km to Ayegui which is just on the outskirts of Estrella. We decided to stop there as the next possibilty was more than 10km on and was described as basic. The alberque in Ayegui was in a big community sports complex. It had all the amenities we needed with the bonus of watching the girls´ netball teams practice and then the men´s indoor soccer team play. This bonus wore a little thin when they were still yelling, cheering and pounding away at 10pm. Dinner was a treat. There was a cafe in the sports complex with a gruff restauranteur, and I´m being complimentary, calling him that. His manner of service, was fill it up, slap it down, eat it up and shut up. I had a great salad but Dayton and John´s sopa was packaged Lipton´s chicken noodle soup. My spaghetti with tomato sauce was really spaghettios and their chicken was basically thin chicken McNuggets. Thank goodness for wine although I´m sure this wine was so young it still had toe jam in it.

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