Camino Stage 9: Najera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Walking out of Najera this morning I passed workers setting up for their medieval fare, putting up all of the bunting and flags. Najera was a royal city some 800 years ago, and still has some fine old buildings clustered mainly around one square. But the rest of the city is in decay. This town still holds the tombs of the medieval kings but is an industrialed and wantonly developed shadow of its former glory. Camino Legend has it that Najera is where one-on-one combat took place between Charlemagne’s bravest knight, Roland, and the Moorish giant, the 9 foot tall Farragut, to decide the fate of the city. For three days and two nights the fight raged. There are two accounts as to the ending: one that Roland felled him with a well aimed rock (perhaps a revamped David and Goliath story), or that the giant fell on Roland, crushing him, until with his last breath Roland plunged a well aimed dagger through his navel.

Najera was a shame.

 

Najera Bridge at night on the way back from a Pilgrim’s Dinner with friends

It was freezing in Najera this morning: -1C overnight and 3C after breakfast when I set off. Still can’t find my gloves (knowing me I have put them somewhere easy to find!), but I had everything else on – three layers including the full merino base layer I bought when I went to Iceland.

Rain was also forecast and I had 21km to go to Santo Domingo, so I pushed it a bit. Breakfast wasn’t till 8am and after leaving about 8:30 I made good time and was coming into the next little village, Azofra, 6.8km away as the church bell rang 10am. A drink break and the opportunity to swap some messages with my boys. It was tiny – 2 shops 2 cafes and hostels relying on the peregrinos to survive.

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I pushed on to try beat the rain and was soon out in open country again. The highest it got all day was 5C but most of the walk was on wide dirt paths. These three shots are all taken from the same point – looking back to Azofra, the column on the right  side of the Camino, and the snow clad mountains on the left.
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You see and hear some odd things on the Camino. I was going up the long hill below and kept catching up with a guy and a Japanese/Korean girl. English was their common tongue and he was explaining his work. She seemed to make a mistake thinking that he made blueprints. The hapless girl was then treated to 15 minutes of explanation of business process engineering – “What you have to do first is discover all…”; I stopped for a breather to let them get out of earshot but I kept catching up: “The next thing you must do….”; another breather; another catch up; “Then you have to identify the owner of each……”; poor woman. Needless to say I wasn’t breathless at the top.

And once you reached the top you could see today’s destination – the beautiful historic pilgrim town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. I lucked out again and walked into Santo Domingo at about 2pm just as a light rain (and I’m told a little snow) fell.

The weather is set for the same tomorrow. Rain keeps being forecast but hasn’t quite arrived.

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