Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 8: Viana - Logroño (10 kms)

Today is a short walk as I wait for my sister who arrives tomorrow.  The day is a bit cloudy. Everyday, we need to leave the pilgrim house by 8 am. People start moving around and preparing by 6 am so there is pretty much no choice but to get up.

I have breakfast with Andrea.  Breakfast is cafe con leche and a roll with fruit bits.  We see and talk a little with Enrique, the Mexican pilgrim we both first met in Zubiri. He has a fever and has had to take a taxi to Viana.  I start walking with Andrea at 9 am in my Teva sandals while she walks in her Crocs.  We are now leaving the Navarra region and moving to La Rioja known for its red wines.

Approaching Logroño
Beautiful Spanish family in front of their colorful home

The landscape is flat with lots of vineyards. Andrea insists that we talk in German to help me improve in the language and teaches me things like Ach du scheizer or Mein schatz, wie ist deine Laune?  My German seems to be getting much better here, what with all the German pilgrims I meet and talk to on the road. So is is my conversational Spanish, which impresses my pilgrim friends.

We are in Logroño by 12 noon and sit and have a cafe con leche and eat at a cafe on the Plaza de Abastos.  Later at 2 pm, we say our goodbyes and Buen Caminos.  It starts drizzling.  Andrea and Daniela, another German pilgrim, plan to walk on to Navarrete, while I go to a pilgrim hostel, the Check-in Rioja, to stay in Logroño for a day.  Maybe we meet again on the Way.

Soon in Logroño
Great lunch!
Clowning around in Logroño. Hope we meet again!

It is Holy Week, and Vierne Santo or Good Friday today. I go to 6 pm mass at the Iglesia Santa Maria -- it is supposed to be a pilgrim mass but the priest says that there is not one today. He talks to me after mass (yes, in Spanish) and gives me a blessing (I think) and wishes me a Buen Camino.  There is supposed to be a procession at 7:30 pm so I walk towards the Plaza del Mercado. On the way, I see crowds outside the Iglesia de Santiago Real. I take a look and find out from a woman that there will be no procession because of the rains. One of the statues, Christ carrying his cross, is inside the church, hoisted onto the shoulders of men garbed in purple robes. They sway in rhythm to the sound of drums. A majestic sight.

At the Iglesia de Santiago Real

I then walk over to the main church, the Concatedral Santa Maria de la Magdalena. Here are even more crowds, waiting for the Maria Magdalena statue and float. I jostle among the crowds and am rewarded with a place in front. At 8:30 pm, the float emerges from the church, decorated in flowers and candlelight. Deep booming drums herald its arrival. It stops just in front of the church and for about half an hour, is serenaded by different women in their soprano voices, as about 50 men and women sway while carrying the weight of the float on their shoulders. An overwhelming and magical sight.

Float of the Maria Magdalena
Crowds in the Logroño Town Square

Afterwards, I go to the El Rey de Tortilla bar, have some tapas and 2 glasses of Vino Tinto for dinner,  then hurry back before the 10 pm pilgrim house curfew.

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