It was weird doing this whole thing alone. I literally had one night with other pilgrims and that was the first night over the pyrenees, after that you could already smell the fear and the doubt and the anxiety from the people I met and things only got worse over the the course of it. Police being all the more stressful was going to prove only a matter of time before I got caught. Still I cant really avoid them or anything. The only thing that I can do is just dodge them whenever I can and try to find a sort of template on dealing with them. Storm was brewing however and I wasn’t blind to this fact.
Before I was going to reach San Anton I had to pass several big city’s, namely Logroño and Burgos. Sprinkled in between them smaller city’s but still larger than a village. I didn’t think it would be too hard to make a small adjustment and just cross the bigger cities during darkness. Walking in pitch darkness had become my bread and butter this trip anyway so this is just a continuation of what I had been doing. Its weird how this trip prepared for all the things to come. I remembered the talk I had with the Italian pilgrim I met all the way back in France, we met in the bar and his day was over and I hadn’t even started to walk and we met just as I was walking out of the door to start my evening walk. I decided to send him a message and I found out that he had to go back home because of the shit storm currently engulfing Italy. Too bad..
The route through nature were absolutely gorgeous, last time I was here in was in the heart of summer and the environment was dryer than some of the coughs I heard coming from balconies when walking through the villages. Now everything was lush and green and birds and trees and sometimes rain. Truly a journey of opposites compared to the first trip. That time I had already met about a 100 people and I already had a sort of group that I hung out with. Now Im all alone and Im walking my own pace completely.
Lush paths of loneliness
I walked into a place called Viana and it was like the fucking apocalypse, red and white tape around public places slowly breezing in the wind, almost no cars just trucks on the highway in the distance and the odd person scattering into safety as soon as they saw me. The truck drivers were friendly as some of them honked their horns at me and waved and smiled. Small things like that really spur a weary, lonely, pilgrim on.
As Im entering the village over some nature road I can see a cop car driving by and turning around to come towards me. I just continued to walk and indeed he was on his way to me, even driving up this sandy path, he rolls down his window and tells me to put the dog on a leash lol. Commence theater.. Sure amigo, dog on a leash, no problemo hahah..wtf.
There was a nice supermarket that couldn’t be entered with more than 6 people at a time and I smoked a cigaret while waiting, feeling the eyes of the local burn. It was all good though. At the edge of the town I could already see Logroño in the distance, it was about 10km left. A nice lady thought I’d went the wrong way so she came out on her balcony and pointed me in the right direction, I said that I was going to eat something with a view and I remembered having the literal exact interaction with her 5 years ago.. Good to see she’s still alive. One of those camino angels living right on the path making sure pilgrims dont get lost. Cute.
deserted streets are deserted
I remembered Logroño as a pretty nice and clean city, at the entrance of the town I was beset by bigass dogs on all sides, pulling on their chains and alerting everyone and their dead grandmother to my presence. Nothing better than flimsy chains tied to flimsy fences and 60kg dogs yanking the chain like they only live to rip your face off. Of course Lucy strolled through the gauntlet like she fucking owned the place.
In Logroño I had to cross a bridge which was kind of out in the open and I bided my time a little, smoking a cigaret and seeing cop cars roll over the well lit bridge in the distance. The bells ringed 2300h and some of the lights went out, hmm alright, good! I walked over the bridge and on the other side I saw cops driving by, looking at me – looking at each other – looking back at me and me just ignoring the shit out of them, up the little alleyway and adios muchachos.. At the backend of the city I saw some people walking their dog, well thats good at least. Spaniards actually taking care of their hounds since thats their only excuse to leaving the house, me likey. I chilled for a sec on a bench and a nice guy came by and we struck up a conversation, I told him I slept in a tent and he told me about a house about 5km out of Logroño which would be perfect in his mind for me and the dog. Out of all the Spanish names one could think of his name was Santiago of course and I decided to follow up on his lead. Being pretty glad as Im walking out of the city. 1 down, 2 more to go to Santiago, I treated the cities as sort of milestones (even though they’re not evenly spaced apart but as a mental reference, very nice). The cities posed the most threat in my eyes because there would be facilities for people like me and therefor I found it more likely to be detained while crossing the city’s than it would be crossing smaller villages, but what the fuck do I know honestly.
Santiago’s 5km actually turned out to be 10km and I was properly wrecked by the time I found it. It looked romantic as fuck sure but it was a little house under construction. No windows, no doors, marble floor. The place was basically a turbine for the wind that slightly picked up and gotten colder over the last hour. Its still funny to me how people think sleeping in a tent is and how it actually is. People think that sleeping on a concrete floor in a windy space is preferable over sleeping in a small compartment that you can easily heat up within an hour, on the dirt, well hidden instead of that very interesting looking little building next to a recreation road. I still decided to sleep there anyway, just for the fun of it and my sleeping bag was nice and warm anyway and compared to France, everything here was pretty warm..
perfect house for a lonely pilgrim
The next day led me out of the city proper and through a recreation area, there was a whole herd of bunnies covering the field, eating and foraging around. I spurred Lucy on to scare them a little bit and she had a blast. It was actually cool how the place developed because last time I was here it was just lonely and wild, not it was a little bit more descent and developed with even some water fountains that were open. The sun had started shining again and it was looking good for the coming time in terms of weather. That means that I could use my solar panel and powerbank to get all the energy I could ever need.
The route took me through some minor villages with ample supplies and vending machines, these vending machines sort of became my lifeline at this point. At least getting some rest and a sugary snack was a delight when all the shops were closed. The prices weren’t too bad either. Spain is just cheaper in every possible way.
I walzed a medium town called Najera in the dead of night, nobody around except for..you guessed it… the cops. The look on their eyes was just absolutely priceless when they stopped next to me. A lady cop and a male cop that sighed and rolled their eyes so hard at me that they almost gave themselves a seizure. After a short, more annoyed, less inquisitive version of the conversation I had usually, we touched on all the ‘what are you doing’s/’where are you going’s’/’where do you sleep’s and the good ol’ ‘what the fuck are we supposed to do with you’ they sped off without so much as a buenos noche’s.
Just keep on walking pilgrim, get the hell out of my jurisdiction and at the edge of town I found a poorly maintained stadium in disrepair and decided to sneak my tent in some quiet spot, sheltered from prying eyes. This proven to be the right decision since the next day the police was checking on the stadium and it seemed to me like police just did a standard route of checking out different public places. Fining/Scolding people as they went along. I took it extremely slow and watched on with glee as they did another loop around. These people have no fucking clue themselves what they’re doing, they’re just being told what to do and like good dogs, they follow orders.. Amusing. I tried to learn from every interaction I had with them, be it from a distance or up close and personal, they all provided opportunities for me to adapt to this brave new world.