The Magician and I set off late in the morning down the hill. The sun was rising quickly and burning off the mist which was curling round the small clumped buildings in Sotés. Once we got down the tarmac road, we reached the Camino again. The dirt track had a golden colour with the small towns highlighted in the distance. On the way now we could easily see the next stops we’d get too. This was a simple motivation for more coffee and food. Today took us to the first major town in a while, Nájera. After Pamplona was sacked by the Moors in 924, the Kings of Navarra residence was moved here. During the War of Independence though the French destroyed large parts of Nájera. This gives the town a huge amount of history here, but is now just a very small town with a number of old churches.
Through the rest of the day I walked alone, lost in my thoughts. Stopping in agreed stops to catch up with the Magician. The walk was starting to become harder and harder for me. People talk about the Camino having Spiritual, Physical and Mental stages. That by walking through these parts this will help you to grow. I felt like I’d continually worked on the Physical and Spiritual elements on the Camino. Here I was entering a phase where I was challenged to keep walking. I didn’t know if I wanted too anymore. Each step started to feel heavier and heavier. And although the landscape still took my breath away, the weather was starting to slowly get colder. With the slow dropping temperatures, arid landscapes, I started to wonder what kept motivating me to keep walking each day.
At the end of the day the Magician and I met each other outside Santo Domingo de la Calzada. This town was named after Domingo de Viloria. He was a hermit that devoted his life to the Camino, setting up a hospital and hostel for Pilgrims (from 1019 till 1109). He was sainted shortly after his death for his dedication. The weird and cute part about the town is in the pastry shops, you’ll find these pastries of little hanged men. This is based on a legend in the 14th Century. There was a family of German pilgrims. The young son in the family was said to have spurned the love of an innkeeper’s daughter, whom then accused him of robbery. The young man was then hanged. On the return from Santiago, the parents found their son hanging from the ropes, but still alive (on the shoulders of Santo Domingo). When they told the judge of the town this, the judge then said, your son is as dead as the roast chickens on my plate. Well… the chickens on his plate then gave a crow. The judges of the town now wear a rope (now replaced with a band) around their neck as a reminder. And also, a pair of white chickens are also kept in the church, in memory of the miracle.
We stayed the night in the huge Municipal. Our other friends on the Camino had already started making dinner for us. I couldn’t escape the warm comradery all night, as we drank through local wine and beer together. Here I met another Englishman. There were only a handful of English people I’d met on the Camino so far. Talking to him, you couldn’t escape his warmth and genuine nature. We all talked late into the night, eventually being told to get to bed and be quiet by the volunteer manning the Municipal for the night.