A good day. We arrived at the albergue Casa de Austria, run by, guess who, Austrians, about 2:45, the earliest yet and lots of room. Gordon and Susan now both have colds so they decided to linger this morning and said they would meet us in Los Arcos. We met them for dinner and both are feeling better. They walked the whole way. It must be doubly difficult to do this while not feeling well. Fortunately they feel best when they are active.
21.5 km today and not too difficult. The land is opening up, becoming more arid, a few vineyards. There are miles and miles of freshly plowed fields, really quite beautiful with their flowing lines following the contours of the land.
One thing that has us puzzled is that in the villages we hardly ever see ordinary Spaniards going about their daily lives. We see it in the cities and the larger towns but the streets in the villages are empty. Similarly we don’t see anyone working in the fields. There are miles and miles of freshly tilled fields but no workers. Finally today we saw a vineyard being harvested by huge machines. What this suggests is that all these fields are owned by agribusinesses and there are no small farmers left. There is not even any sign that farmhouses ever existed here but surely they must have. The fields are beautiful but these thoughts are sad.
With the villages we wondered if there was any work to speak of apart from serving the peregrinos. Maybe everyone commutes to the nearest large town for work. Much of the time we are walking during siesta time so that might explain something. But we don’t see children and we don’t see public gathering places other than the plazas that are filled with peregrinos.
Yet these villages don’t seem poor. The houses are mostly well kept and painted. It’s a puzzle.
No deep spiritual insights today, just run of the mill reflection and enjoying of the world around me. Tomorrow is a long walk to Logroño, about 29 km. The four amigos are back together and we are agreed that if we get too weary we take a cab for the last few km into Logroño. It’s clear that I will have to skip some bits if I am to make it to Sarria in time to pick up Susan, so might as well pace myself.
PS: I found this great app for writing blog posts off line and adding pictures, etc. it works great. I’ll add a few pictures from earlier in the journey.