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  • Writer's picturekristina jacobsen

Day 2: Zariquiegui-Puente la Reina

I am an ‘in between.’ 

On the Camino, this means I'm skipping many principle stops and choosing to stay instead in smaller towns with smaller Albergues that are lesser known and that exist between the main stops recommended in the guide books. But it also means that when I'm walking and when I'm leaving does not coincide with the majority of people walking the Camino.

Field of poppies coming out of ZARIKEGI

So this morning for example, I've had a good two and a half hours alone on the top of a mountain and in the middle of exquisite poppy fields without seeing a single soul. I've been singing out loud. I've been writing songs. I've been leaving detailed voice messages for dear friends with no idea of what towns are coming next. But with the trust that I will arrive in them when I need to. And knowing that I have small little snacks to keep me going if that doesn’t happen for a while. It’s an act of faith. It's an act of self reliance. And it's an act of knowing and trusting that I have all of the things that I need in this moment.

Bronze silhouette of St. James (Santiago) at the very top of the mountain

I’m also starting to have more in-depth conversations with people in Spanish, including different albergue owners. Many of these conversations are reflections about privilege, what it means to be a pig, and how it feels to be a host on the receiving end of this or the person that stays fixed in place while everyone moves through space and time with the intention of arriving in Santiago.

Signs about feminist, leadership, and combating gender based violence are all over in a NAVARRA. A very visual part of the landscape here.
puente la reina, arriving

An example of the mini improvised, yellow arrow signs, indicating to Pilgrims, where to turn at ambiguous moments when navigating through small and large towns

This morning, I had a long and intense conversation with the mother of the young man who owns the Albergue in Zarikegi about a guest and a woman from Valencia whocame  with her eight students and stayed at their hostel last week. She had a baggage transport service drive her suitcases and the suitcases of all the students and drop them off at theAlbergue in advance. And they showed up and had a lot of demands including wanting the Albergue to change the time that they serve their dinner to pilgrims. And when those demands weren't met, she became very upset and very ugly and threatened to leave them a blistering review on Google, which she has now done and they are devastated. I counteracted that one review cannot a beautiful Albergue break and then went ahead and left my own super positive review because the food was exquisite. But it made me sad that they felt like one person who could bring them down to their knees so quickly. And they felt particularly maligned because of what she chose to say in the review, which said that the beds were broken and dirty, and that the showers were unsanitary. None of which is or was true. But of course that affects how people will respond to a place and when or if they will look at so it's also a very real concern.

we are entering wine country in ia NAVARRA. I had a long conversation yesterday morning with a gentleman at a bar: he tells me that local red wine is GARACHA, and local whites are CHARDONNAY and VIERA.

So this is where the economics of pilgrimage meets the ethics of travel and what it means to throw one's weight around literally and figuratively. It's interesting to me that this particular guest was Spanish, because the narrative I would have expected might have been that an outsider would behave that way and not a Spaniard where the Camino has a lot of status. And one can put it on one’s CV as a sort of merit badge. 

Wheatfields and morning light of NAVARRA

As the numbers of people multiply who are walking this camino and as the next sequel to ‘The Way’ comes out with Martin Sheen, it also makes me wonder about when people start in St. Jean in France about offering guidelines about etiquette and toilet paper and Albergues and the differences between ‘donativos’ and hostels and private hostels and public hostels and Casas Rurales, and all the different accommodations that one sees in the ‘buen camino’ app and the different etiquettes and expectations that are required for each of those, and that one is not the other. The anthropologist in me feels like this is so essential to being a good guest in a place. And I think it's getting lost on a lot of American pilgrims at the very least, and perhaps others as well. 

“Second breakfast”: tortilla with mushrooms and crème fraîche, and cafecito of course

And so it's an interesting moment to be thinking about crafting multiple retreat experiences for artists and musicians in this place. One of the challenges will be figuring out a way to do it so that it still stays connected to the deeper spirit and feel in place. Of this coming off of this specific regions that we're in. I think I can do this through music and food and through human connection as I get to know different alberghi hosts and different community members in the places where we'll sleep and make music. But it would be very easy to take another route and to book everything ahead of time to your where they take an additional fee and where you show up with your proof of payment on booking.

On the Roman bridge, Puente la Reina
Learning the chords to “morning has broken”. The Brazilian owner of last nights albergue, natalia, took this photo and bounced to me from her balcony as I was playing the guitar last night
Paused in this nice cool chapel right at the entrance to Puente la Reina

I will pause here to post this segment and share some of the photos, mostly nature-based because it was exquisite, from today’s walk. 

and greetings now from Puente la Reina!

 disclaimer: All posts written on the camino are written from my cell phone, and therefore have very minimal editing. They are meant to be a snapshot and a representation of daily life while walking, rather than a polished publication. Please take that into account when reading.*

A lush view from under Puente la Reina
Pilgrim under the stone bridge, sunset time.
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