Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Best Sunshine Is Unexpected Sunshine

Today was supposed to be a 13-mile slog in the rain from Estella to Los Arcos. All the weather gods (Weather Channel, accuWeather, BBC Weather, GoogleWeather, etc.) agreed this was a GoreTex day. Started out that way. Sprinkling when we set out, it was raining by the time we got to the Monastery Irache, with its splendid cloister and even more famous affiliated Bodegas Irache and its open vino faucet. Emptied a quarter of my water bottle to accommate a spritzer of wine, and set out on the path upward. By the time we'd trudged a few more miles upward, however, the clouds had parted. So we were able to enjoy "elevenses" (coffee con leche and for some a roll) on the bar patio in Villamayor de Monjardin in the sun. The picture above shows the path into Villamayor, with a ruined monastery atop the pyramidal hill. Fortunately or not, the Camino -- which in general has never seen a steep and not-strictly-necessary hill it didn't like -- circled the hill instead of mounting a frontal assault. From there, with time out for a picnic beside a towering pile of hay bales, it was a hot walk on a rewarding path. No shade, for the most part, but winery grapes, olive trees, and lots more ruins of all flavors -- forts, churches, monasteries -- atop every hill and ridge. All this with the Autopista roaring in the next valley over, offering high speed opportunities at the cost of missing most of this.