Camino Day 13: The Middle Way
May 17: Vilajo de la Rioja to Villa Franco de Montes de Oca
20.3 km/12.7 miles
The 0700 Exit
Chance to lie in, as the doors would not open until 0700. Some Peregrinos wake as early as 0430 to start their day, packing and shuffling their gear without concern. If they were quieter, the noise could have been easily overlooked, but normally, they were not.
A sense of competition was felt with this early exodus, and I was still trying to wrap my head around it.
The House Rules
Silence prevailed this morning. The house “rules” here paralleled my own philosophy. Perhaps we were late in walking a more authentic Camino as Kashi had observed, but this place seemed to comprehend the nuances of bygone Caminos.
Rolling fields of green were passed today, which a local shared would be brown by summer. One small village cascaded into another. All topped by a church tower, spire and the occasional, tall façade front, giving a pseudo sense of height and awe.
The Local Life
The town squares of these quaint villages magnetized one to sit, savor a coffee and observe local life. At one stop we encountered two Finnish guys toting a guitar and enjoying beers. They had a big itinerary for their Camino. They put in long days and often arrived after dark to a hostel.
The Camino Trust
We spoke of the concern many Peregrinos had regarding late arrivals and full hostels. They weren’t worried. I, myself had been tempted at times to book in advance since we were two travelers now and moved slowly through our day, but resolution was made to place trust in the Camino.
Thus far, only once had extra kilometers been walked for a bed.
The boys boasted how they partied in Pamplona and planned to catch more fun in the next big town. They were young and entertaining.
The Mental Challenge
My legs no longer ached much and I pondered if I was transitioning out of the physical stage and into the second, the mental challenge. Perhaps this would involve intentionally slowing the mind down to my walking pace.
The Camino offered one the rare chance to divert from the usual fast-paced life routine.
The Middle Choice
The end of the day brought us to a hotel with an Albergue (hostel) in the rear. There were three options for the hostel dorm rooms that were reflected by price. Earlier Pilgrim arrivals that day had evidently chosen either the higher or lower options as we chose the middle and ended up in an empty dorm room.
The Camino had spoken.
Aristotle describes the middle way as the mean between two extremes, one of excess and one of deficiency. Morality would be found in the middle.
An empty dorm room can tempt one to indulge in activities that veered from this middle path.
The Gourmet Dinner
We were informed that the town grocery store had only an hour window of opening. This was common in the smaller villages. We headed over, as there was a kitchen in the hostel and we felt like cooking.
Our grocery staple list often included cheese, perhaps a can of sardines, olives, bread, avocados, etc. Kashi had creative ways to make a few simple ingredients into a delightful dinner. Life is sweet!