Days One to Six


   My first few days were troubled ones.  In the town of Estella all the shops were closed and I had an expensive dinner in a bar.  It was a boiled chicken leg, and not at all good.  The next day I had serious diarrhea.  I was walking and it came on so hard I couldn't look for a bathroom or even a tree, I had to go right there.  I wasn't prepared and only had my notebook for toilet paper.  Luckily it was just past a town most people were stopping in.  I should have turned and gone back, but I decided to keep going.  That was a big mistake as it was getting into the heat of the day which with all the walking gave me a severe irritation.  I finally reached the village of Sansol and got cleaned up.  I eventually found some Lanacane, but I was walking uncomfortably for a few days. 
   I also got a large blister on my heal.  This was the only really serious blister I got.  I did get a few small ones between my toes as well, but that didn't slow me down.  The one on my heal hurt at every step.  I stuffed a sock under the arch of my foot and that took presure off of it.  After a day it still hurt a bit, but not as bad.  I stopped under a tree to air out my feet, and one of them got stung by a yellow jacket. 
   Because I was walking earlier I often arrived in town between 12am-3pm which is when towns often have their siesta, or nap time.  It seems odd coming from a country like Taiwan where people have their family meals in their shops that a whole town could close down for several hours to have a rest.  On hot days I was so glad to find a cold Coke machine when I was out of water.  Coke wasn't good to drink when dehydrated, but it sure felt good.
  
  The first day had been a wet one.  It wasn't raining hard and it cleared up soon and left this rainbow.
  The first time I went to Puenta la Reina I felt like just a sleepy little town, but as I walked toward the main square I saw a group of people dressed in white with red scarves.  I thought something must be going on so I hurried back to the albergue and got my camera.  It was a holiday and they were having a festival similar to the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  The main square was closed off and a bunch of locals were playing a game called 'ring the bull' where they get the bulls to chase them and put rings in their horns. 
  The poor bulls were harassed and taunted and run to death.  After they were finished with them in the bull ring they let them run up and down the streets.  Here you can see people jumping on the walls in case the bulls got too close.
  The bulls ran up and down the alleys and some people would slap at them and try to grab their horns.  I was standing in the street as they ran by but I didn't get in their way.
  This was one of my most Hemingwayesque days.  It is hard to believe in progressive Europe these traditions continue. 
   Here a brass band plays.  Later they brought out some kind of disco van.
  An old Roman bridge. 
  "If a pilgrim stops to refresh his mouth with wine, he doesn't break his journey. It refreshes him and allows him to carry on faster."
             ---St. Francis de Sales
  White cliffs, taken before I got to Sansol.
  A sign above the entrance to a graveyard.  It read:  I was once as you are, you will be as I am.
  At this fence pilgrims stop and make a cross from sticks.  This is the Orthodox cross I made.
  In or around Santo Domingo de Calzada.  Only 518 km left to go, and I was already in bad shape.
 



The running of the bulls in Puenta le Reina.


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