Flipping Beetles – Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada


Don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery and my tales of the simple pleasures & life lessons of a pilgrim’s existance on the way. There are elements of this existance that are tough and tedious. Today, I thought I’d give you a quick taste of what to expect if you ever decide to go on camino with three of the daily trials pilgrims face. 

 1) Pain – and lots of it, from walking long distances. I’ve been promised the pain will eventually wear off. Every pilgrim has a different sore spot, mine has been the sprained ankle, many suffer with their knees and everyone has blisters of various sizes at all times.

2) Noisy and inconsiderate pilgrims. Pilgrims will hold full, loud conversations while you are trying to sleep in the dorms. Shushing them is pointless, they have very poor memories and spark up again within minutes. Pilgrims will set their alarms for 4.30 (my personal best) and wake entire rooms. However, all this could be forgiven if ONLY pilgrims would not snore like hogs. But they will. And they do. So be prepared to bring industrial strength ear defenders because regular earplugs are ineffectual.

3) Long, endless, featureless miles. Ive been told this will get even harder, today during my walk into Santo Domingo I passed row upon row upon row of harvested wheat fields, in a straight line, running parallel to a main road. The most interesting pastime on this stretch is flipping the beetles back onto their legs. Spain is beset by helpless wildlife. When I first started flipping beetles with my walking poles I was worried that I may do more harm than good. However, with enough practise, the poles can be used like chopsticks to flip them onto their fronts. It’s all in the wrist.

But then, stuff like this happens.
Pilgrims being Pilgrim Video

The kindness (and sometime craziness) of the hospitaleros, the ostentatiously ornate Spanish churchs you would never visit unless on pilgrimage and the random acts of kindness from fellow pilgrims, who will share everything they have with you, makes the sleepless nights, painful feet and endless miles well worth the journey.

 Today I walked 22k to Santo Domingo, with not too much pain in the ankle. The walk had a few hill sections with stoney descents which all pilgrims pick their way over very gingerly. It seems we have all come a cropper on the camino somewhere or other and have all learnt to tread lightly in life.

 The walk today took us via the nondescript town of Azorfa for a quick banana break and 7k later, another Spanish town that was built during the boom years that is completely deserted. Townhouses and apartments line the road of Ciruena, complete with its own spooky golf course and creepy outdoor pool. It’s a sad scene of broken Spain. And a dull one. I left quickly.

 The town of Santo Domingo however is a highlight on the camino. The town is covered in images of chickens, the double chicken is the town emblem, the birds are everywhere both live, stuffed, baked and illustrated and the sound of chickens clucking and cockadoodledooing can be heard every minute (EVERY MINUTE) echoing through the town and reverberating around the dorm, so, no need for an alarm tomorrow morning. It’s a finger lickin crazy town!

What the cluck? Santo Domingo, so the story goes, was home to a crime of passion, a case of false accusation, a scorned woman and the resurrection of both man and chicken!  Wikipedia it, I’m writing this whole blog on an Iphone, give me a break, I don’t have time to recount an entire medieval fable.

Tomorrow is a ‘go as far as possible without falling down’ day because the day after, awaits the three peak challenge of San Juan. Why, god, why? Oh yeah, I remember, mortal soul, life lessons. Gotcha.

One thought on “Flipping Beetles – Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

  1. Hi Sarah, good luck over San Juan. Try to think about the down hill parts and not the opposite and use the poles instead of just your legs (there’s muscle in them there arms!). Nearly half way now, amazing effort. Hope you remember which way home is? We’re thinking of you and wishing less pain and blisters; lots of love and foot rubs, Andrew & Diane XXXXXX

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