Jan 6, 2013 Estella to Los Arcos: Conflict and commerce
Today was an exquisite Camino day. We left Estella around 9:15, after stopping to pick up a couple of sandwiches. We would normally try to be on our way by 8:00, but we lingered over breakfast at our hotel and wound up leaving later than usual. No problem as today's walk was only 21 Kms to Los Arcos. It was in the mid 40's as we crossed the river back onto the Camino. I wore my usual attire of Capilene 2 t shirt, Capilene 3 base layer, and light gloves. Robin wore her hard shell jacket as well. Leaving Estella we started climbing immediately. Nothing severe, just a long continuous climb for about 4 Kms. Both body and ambient temperatures were rising quickly as we started our climb to Monjardin. I am at a loss for words to describe the perfectness of the day. It was a combination of clear skies, cool (at least early on) walking temperatures, and stunning scenery. The terrain beyond Monjardin was also very easy to negotiate. So we walked with our heads swinging from one side to the other as stunning vistas competed for our attention.
As to the title of this post, I couldn't help but wonder, as I gazed out across a wide valley bordered on the northern side with a steep escarpment, as to what armies had used these same geographical features to gain access to Spain's interior. I could almost hear the commotion of an invading army in the field slowly closing on its prey. This area is rife with the ruins of castles, churches and watch towers. All of these speaking to a need for vigilance especially in times of uncertain peace. But then, I also thought how the periods of stability following those conflicts fostered economic growth. In truth, the cycle of conquering, exploiting, and economic expansion has not changed much down through the ages. But, I digress.
Back on topic, the weather has everyone baffled. When we walked into Los Arcos this afternoon (2:10) it was 70 F. All the locals are saying this is January and it is supposed to be cold ( they are not complaining, just curious). We noticed how all the fields were showing new growth giving the area a gorgeous, lush carpet of green. These fields coming up against a cerulean blue sky made for a pleasant backdrop as we clomped along to Los Arcos. We knew that one private albergue was open, but we thought we should see what other options might be found. This, in turn, led us to the Hostal Suetxe, in search of a room. What we found was a closed hostal and a bar jammed with people enjoying the holiday weekend. I met the owner who also operates (probably owns) the Hotel Monaco. He whisked us down there (2 blocks away) and checked us in (39 euros). It is very clean and modern, and Robin and I are the only guests. We are now showered, refreshed, and doing the laundry (typical Camino routine). We are off tomorrow to Logrono, a 29 K walk, and the longest so far on this Camino. All is well. Muscles are aching, but our feet are in good shape (no blisters). Tomorrow will be a good test of our improving stamina. We shall see. More from Logrono.