Camino Diary Entry #18
#18 Najera to Santo Domingo dela Calzada 21 kms/6 hours
We commenced yet another steady climb leaving Najera. With the sun shining on our backs we faced just a ‘short day’. We are pretty sure the scenery was yet more wheat and barley crops with hills and mountains forever.All we could really see however was the inside brim of afore-mentioned silly looking hats pulled down hard over our brows. With our faces pointed downwards to avoid the whole ‘flying nun’ thing in the chilling head wind for hours we walked on focused only on the earth beneath our feet.
The Camino is full of suprises and unexpectedly, in the middle of nowhere, we arrived at a small village. Ciruena sported a very grand, environmentally friendly golf club and large complexes of recently built, yet vacant, condominiums. Not a solitary soul was to be seen – and it wasn’t even siesta! The children’s playground equipment looked new but was nearly hidden amongst the tall weeds. Quite sad and weird!
The clouds continued to gather about us in threatening manner as we approached our destination of Santo Domingo dela Calzada.The last couple of kilometres the wind had abated and we trekked over the stoney track through crops of vegetables – some of which we recognized and some we did not! I managed to snaffle the odd pod of fresh peas that were delicious.(Gwyneth declined as ‘you wouldn’t know what they may have been sprayed with!)
Not wanting to miss the opportunity of an open supermarket where we can stock up on spare vino tinto “in case we need it”‘ and olives, we scraped in the doors as they were about to close. We really haven’t come to grips at all with the opening/closing hours of anything, anywhere. We paid the pittance required to secure 2 bottles and a bag of olives and then perhaps naively, enquired for directions to our accommodation ‘Hospederia Cisterciense’. The questioning eyebrows raised by the supermarket lady as she looked at our purchases, then pointed us to the first corner, should have made us a little suspicious.
Happy we were so close to ‘boots off’ time we headed out into a torrential downpour. Heads down again, we bolted across the road, through the puddles and in the gate of a very innocent looking, 3 storey brick building.
The glass doors parted and we found ourselves in a wide, sparse, very dated foyer complete with a sliding reception window. Peering out from within sat a large, sour faced, bespectacled nun.
Suddenly we were very unsure.This was clearly either a hospital or an ‘old people’s home’. Without the glimmer of a smile our new nun friend thrust a hand written bit of paper at us to see if we could identify anything on it that related to us, and addressed us very sternly in Spanish. We pointed to the spidery handwritten name ‘Gwyneth’, nodded and said we spoke no Spanish. Undaunted she continued her barrage in Spanish, demanded passports, handed us a room key, then promptly asked us what room we were in!Poking her bony finger at the far door she indicated where our luggage was and the very small lift.
Still a little bewildered, we found our way to the second floor and commenced a very, very long walk through a maze of corridors to room 219.