9th Day: Najera to Santo Domingo

Yesterday, I was in a foul mood for a combination of reasons. The weather had made its way inside of my rain-proof jacket and had infected my phone with a case of rain herpes. Whenever I turn it on, you can see little, round wet spots on the back of the display and the phone often mistakes these wet spots for a finger. It cycles through menus, takes me out of applications and generally makes it hard to do anything practical. On top of that, I had lost my SD card adapter for the IPad the day before. After I arrived in Najara yesterday I spent two hours walking around the city of seven thousand trying to find one. Granted not a big deal, but after walking 30k in pouring rain, you kind of want to just sit back and put your feet up.

But I’m over myself now, even though today’s weather picked off where yesterdays left off. The rain was lighter though and let up several times throughout the day. I had put on my rain pants in anticipation and had tucked all essential electronics in a plastic bag. Rachel and Marcus, my walking partners for the past two days, had decided to stay in Ventosa yesterday instead of making their way to Najara. This morning I walked alone to Azofra, but met up with Caetano, Lea and 7 other pilgrims at a small cafe with the freshest eggs I have had during the entire camino (for those interested, its the very first bar that you pass on your way through town on the Camino).

The vineyards of Rioja began to fade into the distance as we made our way to Ciruena. The only sound in the town was coming from the clicks of our walking sticks on the empty streets. We began to wonder where all the town’s people were. We passed by abandoned apartment complexes, with all of the shutters drawn on the windows, and a lonely golf course. Someone guessed that the property bubble was to blame and they were correct, at least according to my guide book.

At 2pm we had completed the 20k from Najara to Santa Domingo and all 10 of the pilgrims scurried inside the Municipal Refugio to pay a donation between 7 and 10 euros and get their pilgrim passport stamped. You begin to get in a rhythm on the Camino. I chose my bed, hooked up all gadgets for charging, took a shower and put my clothes into the washing machine across the street. Afterwards Caetano, Lea, Kild, Taymon and I went to check out the Church of Santa Domingo. Earlier in the day, a nice older, Spanish woman in a cafe in the non abandoned part of Ciruena explained to me, via an intermediary, the story of the miracle of the Rooster and Hen of Santa Domingo. She told me that a German pilgrim passing through the town caught the eye of an innkeeper’s daughter, only he did not return her affections. Slighted, she stuck a silver cup into his piglrim’s bag and alerted the authorities. Stealing was punishable by death and after he was hanged, his father said he heard his son speaking on the rope and wasn’t actually dead. The king remarked that the German’s son was about as alive as the roasted rooster and he was about to eat. As soon as he said this, the roasted chickens miraculously came alive and started flapping their wings. As a side note for future pilgrims the Municipal Refugio keeps the spare roosters and hens in their courtyard. If you go into the back and outside to do your laundry, you can see them yourself.

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