The Way to Logroño is long, leads past freeways and over bridges, and, a number of old church ruins aside, rather boring. It is made better by us being joined by Hu, the Japanese pilgrim who only speaks two words in Spanish, the Swiss, and Alissa, from Sicily, on her quest for sex, which she proudly exclaims to have found a few times, and love, which still eludes her.
We curse the long walks along the freeway together, share an almost endless stream of Japanese sweets coming from Hu’s backpack, and pass the time with jokes and riddles. Even Hu gets a few laughs in, his biggest when he watches me take a picture with my cell phone. He stops, points at it, and goes “Noooooo,” lifting up his multi-kilogram DSLR: “Siiiiiiii.”
Hu wants to stay in Viana, and the rest of us pilgers (a word coined by one of the Swiss, meaning “meandering while drinking lots of cafe con leche”) on. It is almost six when we arrive in Logroño, which always begs the question “where are you staying?” The Swiss had bunks pre-booked at one of the albergues, Alissa decided to join them.
“See you tomorrow?” “Nah, we’re doing a Zero, staying here for another night.” “Ooooh, enjoy,” Alyssa winked, then — pointing at a few storks nesting above — “be careful.”
Our hotel turned out to be even cooler than a hotel. Winederful is an albergue-cum-hotel, renting both bunks to pilgrims and rooms to tourists. We received our stamp, moved in, and found a massive California Queen, adorned with rose embroidered bedsheets. And, to add to awkwardness, a semi-transparent shower. “Hey, at least the toilet isn’t see-in,” Inga smiled.
For the next minutes I tried my best to stare at the TV while she showered, then we switched. I returned to a different person: her wild hair tamed into a ponytail, a breezy white summer dress emphasizing her curves, and her usually bespectacled eyes shining in an iridescent green. “I only have baseball shorts and loafersm,” I managed to verbalize. “Pity, guess we have to order in, then.” And with that, she took her spot in the bed we wouldn’t leave much for the rest of the night and most of the next morning.
Day Two saw us walking the old lanes and plazas of the second biggest city on the Camino. We stopped at a statue of two pilgrims. “That’s us…” she began. “Only I am much fatter than that,” I responded, “and you’re shorter.”
“What now?” she asked. “Do you think it’s a good idea to split up until Burgos? Walk our own Camino, and when we’re there, do the Meseta together? And walk to the End of the World?” I admit, I liked the idea. Time to think, to adapt to a new situation. My Camino was out there, to hear its rhythm and make my feet sing its song was my goal for this pilgrimage, and as much as I began to love the company and the people around me, it was still my Camino, and I wanted to feel it. We agreed, bought massive amounts of ice cream, and retreated to our room to shower and see if we could add an encore to last night.