Day 7: Hot Weather and Gravel Paths (Estella to Los Arcos)
With Paolo and Khalid laced up and stretching homosexually with each other, we started off to Los Arcos, a fairly simple 25km jaunt away - soporific and horizontal. Glorious. We did have vague aspirations of trudging a little further, perhaps to Torres Del Rio, but we would assess our legs as we got nearer. All three of us have matching left leg straps in a myriad of colours, we look like a page from a magazine in a GP clinic. Due to our diminished appearance I have labelled us the 'Crippled Committee' in the hope that someone will take pity on us and carry us to Santiago.
The walk was everything my map promised, relatively flat on rural pathways (roads obliterate my feet) and oceans of cornfields and hay bales as far as the eye can see.
Something that still surprises me when walking the Camino is how quickly you cover distances, I feel my idea of distance is warped in some way. This morning we saw the very pointy and ominous summit of Montejurra, a point we would have to contend with on today's walk, and it looked to be absolutely miles away! However, withing a brief one and half hour window we were at its base! We cover what appears to be a horrendous distance in a surprisingly quick massage of time - which is a very comforting thought.
On the clean and jet washes slabs of Los Arcos' roads the glorious smell of fresh bread and pastries wafted towards our salivating frames - it smelt incredible. Having walked for 5 hours and only stopped for an orange juice (these foreigners do not bloody eat! I quickly squirrel a jelly baby into my mouth at the back of the herd feeling awash with shame as I am peckish) I was absolutely famished. Without hesitation I elbowed an elderly woman aside in order to get into the shop before her, she went down like a sack of spuds but this was a desperate occassion.
After ordering a chicken and courgette pizza stick (who knew), accompanied by an apple and cinnamon lattice from the most miserable and wild haired letch I have ever met, we wandered in to the beautiful Los Arcos Square. With a cold radler in hand we surveyed the stunning Cathedral with its ornate wooden door and white stone walls.
Surprisingly, there wasn't a steady stream of pilgrims filtering into the square and we number only a few now as the night draws to a close. I am really taken aback by how few people are on the Camino, I was expecting far, far more.
Amaria caught up with us in our hostel and she and Paolo made us another great meal of white fish fried in flour and pistachios with a fresh salad. It was all scrumptious but the salad was definitely the highlight, I don't know what absolute culinary legend cut the cucumber and lettuce but it tasted bloody class!
Having rubbed a little salve on my various war wounds I got down to the experimental and somewhat repulsive task of stitching a blister on my big toe. With one eye closed I shakily pushed the needle and thread through my blister to which a glorious pop was audible followed by a sublime out-pouring of clear liquid. I then dexterously tied a loop in the thread to stop the blister from re-filling; the idea being that the blister will not be able to bubble up again as it can't close around the thread.
Feeling slightly light headed but triumphant I am heading to my bunk feeling that I may well have missed my calling as a blisterologist.