Day 8 (really?): Mañeru to Estella

Despite my best attempts, I did not get to update as I went along today. Here’s my best shot before I drop the phone into my own face dozing off again.

The strangest thing about the Camino is how you can separate from new friends one day, then run right back into them the next. It is freaking magic, I tell you.

I left Mañeru this morning thinking I was solo again. It’s ok if I was. I have found that I make great time being alone and listening to music.

In the next town, I’ve stepped to the side of the road so I can fidget with my new favorite Camino toy: wireless earbuds. What an amazing invention.

Thus was my morning view, but I made the mistake of putting on Miles Davis. That made me want to just take a nap.

But then I hear my name called — a few times.

Oh my gosh, there’s Kathleen from Australia at the bottom of the hill calling my name! Of course, with bright red Bunny the Badass Bull, it is hard to miss me on the trail. 🐄

We joined forces for the day through the mud and yuck, and walking with her made it worth it.

To sum things up for day: mud, mud, mud, water, mud, water, water, mud, mud, I slipped but caught myself with my poles, we climbed an ascent without stopping after just commenting that we didn’t feel used to the ascents yet, mud, mud, terrible paella but delicious orange juice with Stuart in Lorca, mud, mud, and mud.

I also got to commune with this sweetheart through a fence. He was so happy to be pet and wanted to play. I swear he was placed in my path a minute after I just thought about how much I miss Gawain and Roxy.

Kat and I also had a conversation about physics and mathematics that only a therapist and a medievalist/fundraiser can have trying to figure out these massive hay bale stacks.

Hi Stuart! We ended up leap-frogging with Stu all day. That’s the way of the Camino.

Kat’s shins were killing her and hurt even worse if she stopped, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out this 11th s hermitage between Villatuerta and Estella (our final destination): Ermita San Miguel. Kathleen kept going and I popped over to check out the site. It was a bit surreal to just walk up to this building that was wide open to the public — no admission fees, no security, there didn’t even seem to be a door to close on it. It was a stark reminder that this isn’t just a hiking trip; people have been walking this route devoutly and worshipping in these places for over a thousand years. What a way to reconnect with the universe and be reminded of all who walked before me.

When I reached the bottom of the hill towards Estella, the trail was taped off with a handwritten sign (in 3-4 languages!) that the rest of the trail was closed because the river overtook the banks. Highway or no way into town — fine!

I was amazed by two things: 1. How high the river was! And 2. Drivers on the highway were honking and waving at me as I walked. At first I thought they were enthusiastic about me being a pilgrim, despite the fact I could see at least six walking ahead of me. Then it dawned on me — my fleece was tied around my waist, so Bunny the Badass Bull was covering my behind and looking out at drivers with his menacing stare. Glad he and I could entertain the motorists!

Check out how high the river was through town.

Kat texted me to let me know which albergue she checked into… and guess who was there? That’s right… the Texas sisters. The Camino provides!

We went into the town square for drinks and dinner only to run into Kitty and Wilma from the Netherlands. We met a new friend from Ohio named Molly, let Stu know where we were, and it was one big happy Valcarlos family reunion. Buen Camino!

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