I’m getting quite good at breaking into Albergues. After walking 1km I realized I had forgot my dorky, red walking poles inside the communal room of the Municipal Albergue in Estella. I noticed the last two pilgrims leaving as I approached. At most Albegues the door locks automatically behind the last pilgrim. Sure enough, the door didn’t budge and no one answered my knock. I climbed over the fence in the back as I did two days ago in Puente lá Reina, opened the back door, grabed my poles and exited the front door as it locked behind me.
I hastily jogged down the roads of Estella to make up the time I had lost going back to get my poles. I met Rachel and Marcus (the English group minus Helen who left for England yesterday) 10 minutes before Bodega Irache. The vineyard provides free wine from a tap and I filled up two 50 cl bottles with free wine. We then made our way to Villamayor de Monjardin and then on to Los Arcos. After getting separated from Rachel and Marcus, I met Daria, from Italy, and Paula, from Brazil. They also are starting a travel blog so we talked shop for three hours on the Camino, until I made my final stop in Los Arcos and they continued on to Torre de Rio.
After arriving at Casa de la Abuela in Los Arcos (the municpal refugio is closed until April 1st), I met the most interesting pilgrim of the trip so far. He reminded me of the Dos Equis guy, only with a mustache instead of a beard. Originally from Vienna, after retiring Albert settled in the Canary Islands. Due to a bet, he walked his last Camino with the help of a donkey (this is his third Camino). This Camino was not easy for Albert since most Albergues do not have places to shelter donkeys. Eventually he stopped asking the villagers and started to find abandon houses and barns to put his donkey in. It took 2 months but he made the 780 km pilgrimage to Santiago and won a case of Champagne in the process. This year he plans on returning to Santiago to find his old donkey. He has been keeping track of him via emails and Facebook (with the owner not the donkey obviously). Albert sold the donkey for one euro, so the current owner agreed to sell him back for the same price. What Albert plans to do with the donkey after he buys it, I don’t know.
The wall I jumped over in Estella to retrieve my poles
Monastery of Irache
On the way between Ayegui and Azueta
On the way to Villamayor de Monjardin
Iglesia de San Andres