Trekcapri’s Camino de Santiago: Navarette to Najera
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln
I really enjoyed my relaxing stay in Navarette. Upon learning that there was a café that opened as early as 6:00 am down the street from where I was staying, I decided to take advantage and woke up earlier than usual so I could have a cup of hot tea before heading out.
Still not comfortable walking in complete darkness, I waited a little while before heading out. I made my way through the cobble stoned streets of this quaint town and back on the Camino path. It was still early so there were no signs of life other than a cute little local cat I spotted. She was pretty shy so I could only snap a photo of her from behind.
This walk was going to be long for me (18.4 km/11.5 miles), but feeling rested I was ready to challenge myself again. At the beginning of this stage you have to walk along side of a busy highway. I had thought that I would be able to have a break in Ventosa and was looking forward to it, but when I discovered that the town was quite a bit off the Camino path, I opted to bypass it and keep going. Unfortunately, after Ventosa there were really no other small towns for me to stop in. There were a few rest areas which consisted of some picnic benches surrounded by over grown weeds/grass but no WC facilities, so I kept walking.
Soon we move away from the noisy highway and begin to walk through these beautiful grape vineyards which I liked better. It was beginning to get very hot and I was getting tired. Finally, I see this little shaded area with “one” wooden bench. There was a young man there and I asked if I could join him on the bench. He scooted over to make room and said sure.
This was one of my more special Camino Lessons moment for me and it occurred on this lonely wooden bench sitting under a shade next to a young man named Jacob.
Surprisingly, we hit it off really fast. We went from the standard pleasantries to conversations of “life” in a matter of minutes. I immediately liked him. He introduced himself as Jacob, originally from Texas, but now living in London. I introduced myself and told him that I had just recently retired and was on the Camino as a retirement gift to myself as well as to reflect on my life. He thought that was cool and then shared with me that he was also retired. I was surprised because he was so young, so I asked him about it. He said that it was a disability retirement. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and since his company had a great disability insurance policy he was able to retire early. I told him that I was very sorry to hear of his cancer diagnosis and said that I thought it was awesome that he was doing the Camino. He asked where did I start my Camino. I said from SJPDP. I told him that I skipped a few stages and took a few rest days in Pamplona because I needed to after the Pyrenees. He said that he had wanted to start from SJPDP, but his doctor advised him not to so he started in Pamplona. I asked how he was doing on the Camino. He said pretty good. He was continuing to take his treatments and when he feels tired, he knows to take a rest which he was doing now. I complimented him for what he was doing. Our conversation moved to more philosophical topics like the importance of living our lives to the fullest each day and how the Camino has affected us to date. I then discovered his joy of travel. He’s been traveling all over the world because that’s what makes him happy. When I told him that I was going to visit Barcelona after my Camino, he told me that I need to visit “Bunker Hill” where there is an amazing 360 degree view of the city below. He said he went at sunrise and that was one of the top 5 most beautiful experiences (from all his world travels) that he has ever had. I told him that I would go (and I did).
Before coming across Jacob, I was feeling tired and my feet was beginning to ache again. As I sat there listening to Jacob, I started to feel a bit embarrassed. My physical state wasn’t anywhere near where Jacob’s situation was and yet here he was this pleasant happy young man who was enjoying the moment, living his life to the fullest and not one complaint from him. I could not have been any more ashamed of myself. I was so affected and touched by his story that I asked him if I could write about his story on my social media. He had a big smile and said sure. Here’s what I wrote:
Today I walked through grape vineyards and enjoyed some beautiful mist covered mountain vistas.
And then I came across a shaded bench where I met Jacob (originally from Texas) from England. He told me that we’re half way to Najera and it’s all downhill! Sweet. I told him I just retired in July and was spending three months in Spain , part of which is to walk the Camino. He high fives me and tells me he is also retired (although he seemed so young). Jacob tells me that he is on disability retirement due to having cancer. In fact he has to take his chemo medications and take it slow. We share life perspectives and I am in awe with his positive outlook. He says that he loves to travel and has been all over the world . He lives in England because it is better for his health.
I begin to think about how I was doing my Camino to live my dream and here was Jacob walking the Camino to live.
Soon we were joined by a fellow pilgrim, also from England. Chatting, sharing and contemplating life and travel on a shaded bench somewhere along the Camino. Can’t get any better than that.
I met up with Jacob again at a cafe where we talked more about life.
Today there were so many memorable vistas that I enjoyed along the way, but the most memorable was meeting Jacob on that shaded bench in the middle of vinyards and realizing how precious life is and how we need to spend as much time as we have being happy and enjoying life.
Buen Camino Jacob! Hope our paths meet again and when they do I hope there is a shaded bench for us to rest our pilgrim feet.
Jacob gave me one of the most precious Camino Lessons learned and that is to enjoy life, be happy and live each moment to the fullest. To this day, I often think about that moment and that wonderful conversation that I shared with Jacob. I know at this moment he is definitely somewhere traveling around the world and enjoying life and that thought makes me so happy. Thank you Jacob.
For this stage, I was surprised that I didn’t take as many video but that could be because it was a very long stage and I’m pretty sure that I just wanted to get to Nájera and fast. I finally reach the main town and stop into a café for a quick rest. Here I meet up with Jacob again and we walk into town together, before we are separated (he checked into an albergue) and I had to find the hotel that I booked. After reaching my hotel which looked like it was in a sketchy area, I sort of wished I was staying in the albergue too (it was located right by the river). Although the location appeared sketchy, the staff was very nice and I surprisingly slept really well.
The historic center of this town is oddly located between this red rock mountain and the Najerilla river. After a quick shower, I found a restaurant to have a quick lunch then went off to find a grocery store to load up on supplies for the next day’s walk. I had to cross back over the bridge which gave me a chance to take more photos of this beautiful river. Once I bought my supplies and spent time repacking my pack, I set off to find a place to have an early dinner. I met another pilgrim (solo female from Canada) and we enjoy a nice conversation. She mentioned visiting the Monasterio de Santa María la Real (Wikipedia) and recommended it to me. After dinner, I decided that I had just enough time to visit it before it closed. I made it just in time and I’m so happy that I did. I also visited the beautiful Cloister with it’s ornate windows.
If I managed to arrive early enough in my next destination during my Camino, I really try to find the time and energy to visit some of the important sites. Today was a good day filled with some pretty amazing experiences. I headed back to my hotel, did a bit of guidebook reading and final packing. As always, I said my daily end of the day prayer that included a special prayer for Jacob. And I was very thankful for learning another very important Camino Lesson.
Next up . . . Najera to Azofra