Stage 13, Sep 16, Torres del Rio to Navarrete, 31.2km, total time 8:15 hrs.

As this is was expected to be a long stage with temperatures rising to the 30 Deg +, with my new occasional partner Mario from the Seriana valley, we decided to start quite early. He woke me up at 5:45 and by 6:15 we hit the road wearing our head lights. For a good hour we walked in the pitch dark under a canopy of stars. Then the day broke showing off an extraordinary color palette.

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My new partner Mario is a very reserved person, religious and very humble. I enjoy to watch him opening up to this new improbable relationship. As the kilometers unfold, he’s telling me about his family, his habits and his very simple life. In no other place I could have had the chance to share my thoughts and my life with this person. I am very grateful of this opportunity.

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My influence can be dangerous for him, since the first time I met him he was never eating or drinking anything else than what he carried in his backpack. Slowly I convinced him to have breakfast in some flamboyant pastry cafes, or even dining at a tapas bar.

This in particular is worth to mention. It is in Navarrete, the place where we are spending the night, and is managed by an Italian guy. The choice of tapas is irresistible: so what can be better than a cold beer and a selection if yummy tapas from Antonio?

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If any of you happen to be in Navarrete, do not miss to visit Antonio at his Bar Deportivo (941-441-065). I forgot to mention that as we entered the city of LogroƱo, we enteted also the province of Rioja, home of excellent wines and very warm people.

After a short prayer of thanks for the day and its treasure of secrets and discoveries, in the magnificent cathedral of Navarrete

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we headed back to Antonio for the dinner menu, where he surprised us with a specialty made of sweet Navarra peppers filled with baccalao (cured cod fish) and olives, with rice milk in a dark calamari sauce. Divine.

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The price still in accordance to the pilgrim’s dish menu (12 euro).

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Stage 12, Sep 15, Estella to Torres del Rio, 27.4km, total time 6:47 hrs

Today I changed walking partner. Deb has expressed the intention of doing meditation along the walk and hence to continue solo. On the other hand I do not mid stretching the stages a bit more and to build some time pad wrt the planned itinerary. So we hugged at a road junction, and thanked each other for the good company and support we enjoyed that far and we split ways.

Another day of great sunshine, and hot temperature as I proceeded in a almost inhabited farmlands. The road climbed to an advantage position from where I had a good vision of the surroundings. I believe I reached total happiness in being part of such beauty.

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Along the way I shared some impression with Chris and Frank from California and also with another gentleman from Scotland. Anyway I did not want to compromise my solitary walk and I increased the pace ahead of the small group.

There are many solitary walkers along the Camino. Frank once was showing a paper sheet with the words: “Silent Day” in response to anyone prompting him with the usual greetings. So in general one should be quite careful in approaching others as they may not appreciate excessive familiarity. However, it is a bit disappointing to notice that apart from a few exceptions, most people on the Camino have mundane purposes. Either they consider this just as a vacation, or a gastronomical adventure, or even a odd experience of hostel living maybe just for a few day before reverting to the usual 5 stars hotels. Some have luggage transfer arrangements, some cut short some lengthy portions of the walk taking cabs in between destinations. The credential stamp can be obtained almost anywhere: from churches, restaurants, bars and even aunties selling peaches along the road. So the pilgrim’s passport can be filled up by many stamps regardless whether all the stopovers have been genuinely walked through with sweat and pain.

Even the Camino cannot remain immune from consumerization. The whole phenomenon is a massive attraction fair to bring more and more people to spend money in the Spanish regions cut through by the Camino. Most sections that can be flooded have been paved in concrete slabs and steepest climbs have been facilitated with stairways and hand rails. The concept is to spread out the concept that everyone can do it. The Spanish road admin has even built a highway on the Camino layout. The footpath has been then rerouted alongside the highway totally vanishing the spiritual purpose of the journey with high traffic noise level and pollution.

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