DAY 14: September 6 – Navarrete to Najera (19 km)
Today’s walk was one of the easiest yet. It was primarily through vineyards and there was very little shade, but we had a light breeze the whole time. We managed a good pace—5km/hr the first half and just over 4km/hr the second. Fellow hikers commented on our speed and we heard one say that we were from “the mountains in Canada”, which made us smile…and speed up:-) The only village near the route meant a 1km detour. We avoid detours if we can and as we had an orange and lots of water, we decided just to carry on to Najera. For some reason there were lots (maybe 2 dozen) other peregrinos with us today. Perhaps, it was because we got going earlier? Also, several were peregrinos who had chosen to start their Camino in Spain and not tackle the Pyrenees, thus arriving along the Najera route without our having encountered them before. At intervals we had the company of a couple from New Mexico, a fellow from Denmark, and a fellow who now lives in Leipzig but was born and raised in Heidelberg ( where we lived in the late 80’s). Although we prefer walking together without company the most, the others we meet along the Camino do truly enrich our pilgrimage. Each pilgrim has a reason for walking the Camino. The stories are often poignant; many are compelling and some are very sad. Something that makes the walk special is the unconditional acceptance of one pilgrim for another. We are from all over the world, different faiths and cultures but walking the Camino is an incredible bond. We are in a hopeful place and it feels very good.
Najera is Arabic meaning “between rocks” and it is nestled between two gigantic formations of red rock. (We are amazed it is not built on top of the rocks:-) The Rio Najerilla
runs through the town, it’s grassy banks a popular spot for picnickers this weekend. Along the riverside are also many pintxos bars where we stop for a snack….and a short nap.
Our hotel is right by the church again. We will have to set up a church bell serenade in order to sleep once we are back home. The church was built in the 11th century by a Spanish king, who hunting with his falcon, came upon a cave in which there was a statue of the virgin Mary, a glowing lantern and a bowl of lilies. On seeing these King Garcia ordered the construction of a church to house these findings. The site now has an ancient monastery but the church is still in use.
As we mentioned in an earlier writing, Najera is where the pickers are hired for harvesting the grapes. The pickers used to be men and women from southern Spain and Portugal, but now the pickers are from North Africa. That is real “out sourcing” but probably controversial with Spain’s high unemployment rate.