This morning our host in Taustes, Manolo, arrived as promised and prepared breakfast. He then drove us back the 5K into Gallur where we picked up the Camino bound for Alagón. On our way into Gallur Manolo pointed out various things including a "pig house." As it turns out our hotelier is also a hog rancher. He said he had 2000 pigs to look after. I'll look for pork on today's lunch menu to pay Manolo back for the trip from Gallur to Tauste and back. He was a very pleasant guy, full of energy, and joy. We were pleased to make his acquaintance. But, the Camino called, so we made our goodbyes, and headed east, once again. Today we were not squinting as the sun had climbed behind a curtain of cloud that made walking into it a lot more pleasant. It was cool (45 F) not cold, and the wind was fairly docile and at our backs. So Robin and I settled in to our usual 4.5 to 5.0 kph pace. I was thinking this morning that this settling in was just like setting out on a long road trip by car. You know there are hours of driving ahead so you don't rush things you just get acclimated to a reasonable pace and enjoy the day. So we enjoyed the day. We passed through a few small towns, enjoyed being close to the Rio Ebro, and before we knew it were were approaching Alagón. One thing about today's walk that is never good on any Camino is walking on busy highways. Today, some of that was unavoidable, about 2.5 hours worth. We just did our best to squeeze to the shoulder, of which there was precious little, as the cars and trucks raced by. We also found that most of today's walk was on some sort of paved road rural or otherwise. Also, not so good.
One interesting occurrence prompted some discussion about the dignity of work. Many of us have been brought up understanding there is dignity in all work, but we still feel that certain jobs, and career paths, have greater value to society than others thereby creating a hierarchy of value, and a corresponding scale of dignity. In short, perceived low value jobs are seen as offering less dignity to the laborer. Right? Wrong!
Case in point, today we were following a trail of animal droppings (slow news day), nothing large, but plentiful. At one point I spotted the culprits, a flock of sheep being ushered along by a man and a dog, and then I lost them in a bend in the road. As Robin and I walked the bend we came upon the sheep quietly grazing in a field alongside the road. The shepherd was standing as still as a statue, and his dog just as still at his side. Both man and dog were intently watching the sheep. He made no move to acknowledge our passing by, he just stood his ground and silently took in all that was going on around his flock. Some how this struck me as a memorable moment. This shepherd seemed to know when to be quiet, and presumably when to act should action would be required. I thought what dignity he projected. How many of us are that comfortable in our skins that we could so silent, so still.
It is probably worth mentioning that we booked our lodging through booking.com many weeks before leaving on this Camino. We knew from our research that some stage breaks offered no beds, or would only open to service a large number of guests (10 or above). It was very hard to discover every little hostel option in many of these towns where we needed a bed, so hence the booking.com solution. However, we have found out that in some cases where booking.com offered no beds there were in fact beds available. The Camino Ignaciano people need to prepare a more comprehensive list of lodging so that an accurate picture is drawn as to what types are available and what services are offered.
So long story short, we could not find a room in Alagón, so we booked further ahead in Utebo. When we arrived today we stopped into the Bar Baraka, where the owner pushed a couple of cold beers across the bar and kindly agreed to call us a taxi to Utebo. We chatted a bit as to why we were moving onto to Utebo. Having heard our story, he offered that he had rooms available right here and now. Unfortunately, our other booking could not be canceled at this late hour without penalty. So off to Utebo we went.
|Robin rigged and ready|
|Cabañas de Ebro|
|Bar Baraka in Alagón|