Monday May 23, 2022

When I woke up, everyone had already left the room. I chose to sleep in because it was supposed to be a shorter day, and I hadn’t slept well the night before, thanks to the resounding snores that filled the room. Leaving Estella was bittersweet, as it was the most beautiful city on the Camino, and remained so even after completing my walk. If I were to walk the Camino Frances again, I’d do so to revisit Estella.

I began my walk alone, and shortly after leaving the city, I came across a blacksmith’s shop. I regretted not buying the hand-forged shell necklace there, as I couldn’t find anything better later. I also found the famous wine fountain of Irache. Legend says that the “blessed” wine fountain from Monasterio de Irache was created to motivate weary pilgrims. It was early, before breakfast, but I pressed on as soon as I filled my bottles (two, not just one) with wine.

I started walking with a German guy who happened to have name Patrick. He shared that he decided to walk on the Camino because he’d never taken risks and wanted this to be his first. Both of us had some physical discomforts (I had issues with my knees, and he had trouble with his feet), and the wine had loosened us up. As a result, we could keep pace with each other for a while.

The walk to Los Arcos was beautifully overcast, with the clouds filtering just enough sunlight to create a magical atmosphere. We strolled across vast pastures and wheat fields dotted with poppies, with the backdrop of towering rocky mountains. The entire scenery appeared like an HDR image.

I finished the walk before noon, and it was too early to check in, so I went to a small plaza to eat. There, I saw the Korean lady from the UK whom I had chatted with at the top of the Pyrenees, and she asked me if I wanted to join. She noted that I seemed different from other pilgrims because I had always smiled. I told her about the feeling of awe every day to be on this once-in-a-lifetime journey, and I have been praying for the knee pain to go away.

Los Arcos was a small and quiet town, notable mainly for its enormous cathedral. I encountered that German man who had snored like a tank last night, and Peyman played him the recording of his night performance that had kept us awake. He chuckled and said we were fortunate not to share a room with him anymore.