The fountain of the moors
Route segment: 7
Monday 2nd October 2000
There is a point on the path just outside Estella where it divides into two. The left most path apparently is the longer and
easier path. The right most path goes through more hilly terrain but is quicker. On the left path there is a Winery, “Bodegas
Irache“, just up the road so that is an easy choice to make.
The fountain at “Irache” where you can choose wine or water
It is still early and the gate is locked. One of the French guys bangs on the gate and attracts the attention of one of the
workers who just happens to be the one with the key. I try some of the wine but it is obviously new as it is still frothy. It
is powerful stuff and more than a glass would not be such a good idea this early in the day.
The road takes us past a new looking “Butlins” type tourist spot. I notice a sign for new houses here and work out the price in pounds. For a large 5 bedroom house here it works out at about £50,000. The same thing where I live would be at least five times as much.
The housing sign just outside of “Estella”
The path after this takes us through the wine-growing region proper of “La Rioja”. The soil here is very strange, having a very dark brown, purple colour to it. The Camino path here has been cleaned up to suit the wine growers and is relatively straight and wide.
There are not many trees here and there is a very strong wind, which I fight all the way today. Caroline and I seem to be
walking at more or less the same pace and it is good to talk to her.
I notice some roman pottery tiles on the ground and mention them but she just shrugs her shoulders. Not interested. I find out later that she spent a year assembling roman pottery jars from fragments like these and didn’t find the sight of one little piece in the ground to be anything to get excited about.
But at the time I thought she wasn’t interested in what I had to say. It is so difficult sometimes to understand why someone acts they way they do and this was a good example of finding out the answer only later. It pays to be patient.
Inside the fountain of the moors
There are few places to stop according to the map and we make our way through the village of “Villamayor De Monjarin“. There is a bar here and Caroline is as passionate about coffee as I am so we stop. Caroline disappears somewhere and returns, excited about the presence of a real fire next door. We can go in and eagerly do so. A Dutch couple runs this place and they seem pleased to see pilgrims today. A Spanish couple, Carlos and Olga are sitting outside and as I have not introduced myself yet, I say hello. Before long Lisa and Geordie also show up and we have a pleasant hour sitting by the fire.
The refuge at “Villamajor De Monjarin”
We gradually disperse and Caroline and I continue walking through the wine fields. Eventually we come across a large haystack and as I am distracted by something or other, the next time I look up there is no sign of Caroline. But the road stretches for a mile ahead and I figure that there is no way she is that far ahead and I assume that she is taking a leak behind the hay stack or something. But actually she wants to stop and we spend a pleasant hour having a light lunch out of the wind but in the sun.
She seems to like to stop for a while every hour or so and so paces herself. I can see her walking ahead of me and she is clearly having trouble with her backpack as she is trying to support it by the straps to pull it up. Her backpack is much too big for her and doesn’t sit in the curve of her back, as it should.
The walk today is only 22 KM and it does not take long to arrive at “Los Arcos”. But the town seems more deserted than usual for the time of day and we discover later that the townspeople are on strike about petrol prices or something. There won’t be much of a chance to eat in a bar today and eventually a shop opens.
Caroline and I offer to make the meal tonight and we agree on pasta. I get the ingredients but there is not really enough sauce and although they are polite about it, I can tell that they would have preferred a better meal.