From Viana I set off with a different feeling for the first time. I could let go of my fears of previous days and, strange enough, immediately felt more freedom.

Thanks to the encounter with the Korean. It is remarkable how this works. The surroundings were surprisingly beautiful again, with a view of the mountains of the Rioja with vineyards on the slopes, over which a wonderful blanket of clouds now hung.

abundant life

After a few hours I approached the outskirts of Logroño, a large, busy city. I walked along a large, asphalted basketball court. And in the middle of that empty court… lay a sleeping mat. I also saw two bare feet. And plastic bags with food. How funny: the Korean was sitting there. He sat in the meditation posture on his sleeping mat and ate his rice with his bare hands.

I suddenly had a flashback of my very first adventurous hiking trip in the jungle of Sumatra. Our guides were walking barefoot as well then and swung on vines up and down through the jungle like Tarzan to create a path for us. They also ate with their bare hands, smacking away, almost like animals. The sight made me sick and I had trouble getting my own food down.

The Korean invited me to eat with him and indicated that he had received all food as a gift. This touched me again. He looked as if he had created an abundant life himself, without any money in his pocket and without asking anything from other people. Again, we had a very special conversation and without a second thought I immediately gave him a contribution for his inspiring mission. He accepted it gratefully and with a gracious gesture.

gift

I continued my trip through busy Logroño. The transition from the beautiful countryside to the busy city was too much for me. All those stimuli also reminded me of an annoying to do list. I had to draw cash and I had run out of contact lens solution. Fussy things.

At last I found an optician. Suddenly I literally stepped into the modern world again, which I had almost forgotten. In the shop I felt a little uneasy with my big backpack, heavy hiking boots and sweaty, smelly hiking outfit. However, the optician was very friendly and treated me like a real pilgrim… I didn’t have to pay anything! Grateful for this wonderful gesture I walked out elatedly, continuing my trip.

helping hands

Suddenly an old Spanish man started to yell and wave at me from across the street. I didn’t understand a word he said, looked around me and spun a few times around my backpack. It took a while… but suddenly I realised that I was heading in the wrong direction… and this while the yellow Santiago signs were visible everywhere in the streetscape. Gratefully, I waved back and continued my trip in the right direction.

even more abundance

Hours later I arrived in Navarrete, a small village with a wonderful atmosphere and, actually, the end of this stage in my walking guide. As it was already late in the afternoon, I decided to call it a day. Searching for an inn I ended up in the middle of the village square.

Incredible… I heard yelling and howling. On a terrace sat the three dutchies, again we were reunited! More acquaintances from the past days were sitting there, some ten pilgrims, including two English guys with a guitar and a ukulele.

What a wonderful surprise and a lot of fun. I plopped down and threw off my shoes. The tables were full of drinks. I looked at Anja smilingly and didn’t need to ask anything. She understood immediately and offered her cigarettes. That was such a wonderful combination… wine and a cigarette!

Normally I didn’t smoke, I was more of a social smoker. I never had cigarettes with me. But when Anja was around I could not resist the temptation. Anja was a real smoker. Of course she was also a real pilgrim, hiking all the way from the Netherlands. And like a real pilgrim she always offered me her cigarettes unconditionally, so I could smoke along with her when we had a drink.

It was a lot of fun, we sang well-known Beatles songs and drank and smoked happily away. Suddenly, Joyce picked up the guitar as well and started to play. She may have been carrying an oversized, red backpack, this was a side of her I didn’t know. I was impressed.

It was getting late, and giggling and a little tipsy we arrived in our dormitory – to the great annoyance of the other pilgrims who had been asleep for hours. We didn’t care, it had been an unforgettable day and a night!

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