I wake up with a slight hangover. Changing into my hiking clothes, freshly washed and dried, I amble downstairs to an amazing breakfast, Martin did not lie when he declared this the best albergue on the Camino (so far).
I am already lounging in the yard, when Inga appears, her usual chipper self, dancing through the entrance hall towards breakfast. “There’s a wine fountain coming up,” she sings, making me wonder if she’d been dipping into the remainder of last night’s … fourth? … bottle.
We leave shortly thereafter, Inga apparently unfazed by her half of the four bottles and telling about Malmö, her home town, being a critical care nurse, and her divorce. “So… I never asked. What do you do? Wait, let me guess… you own a garage and build custom choppers? No, no, you’re something somber, serious… police? Soldier? You have the patch on your backpack… Oh, no, no, I got it, you’re working somewhere in government? Planning parks?”
I’ve dreaded that moment. But I tell her. Her eyes grow bigger. “We’re colleagues…. that’s… amazing” I nod. “Why don’t you move to Sweden?” I have no answer.
It wasn’t the wine planting ideas in Inga’s mind. After Estella, we run into the Bodegas Irache, a monastery and winery with an actual wine fountain for pilgrims. A line forms in front of the tap, every pilgrim is afforded one cup, few adhere to the restriction. Martin (the Casa Magica Martin, a German fancying himself a bit as a Camino historian and connoisseur), arrives and tell us that every morning 200 liters of wine are added to the barrel feeding the tap.
We grab a cup and move a little uphill, taking a seat on a bench under a tree, hair-of-the-dog last night’s wine, smoke my last two Gauloises from Paris, and delay today’s walk as much as we can. Our conversation circles around the question of tonight’s stay. We could walk to Torres del Rio and have a short next day to Logroño, or stop in Los Arcos, making the next day a 30km trek with little steam left to explore the town.
“Or we could take a Zero in Logroño and take a hotel. I am paying,” she suggests. We get up, discussing all three possibilities, and settle on the latter. Los Arcos and hotel it is, a rest day in Logroño before walking the next few days to Burgos.
Los Arcos was definitely the right choice. Pilgrims congregate at the town’s square, we drop our backpacks at an albuergue ran by Germans, and spend the rest of the day taking in the Camino Spirit.
I sip my third Coke Zero when a hand taps my shoulder. I turn around and stare, square, into the sole of a very, very, abused foot. “I hear you’re the Camino Medico” the foot’s owner whispers. She’s one of the older ladies I’d passed at Orisson. Just what I’d feared. “Hmmm, no, but I can look at your foot,” I reply.
A few minutes later she limps off, revealing a line of pilgrims behind her. Our evening is filled with medical support, Inga and I fixing feet, bandaging ankles, recommending rest, and gluing a bad gash at a pilgrim’s neck after doing a pharmacy run for antibiotics, glue, and other required things. “We work well together, think about Sweden,” Inga grins.
The sun sets, the square empties, and we retreat to our cots, falling asleep quickly. I dream of bandaged feet and a Viking boat sailing to Sweden.