I had no idea how important bars would become in my life. No, not the roadside taverns and hotel cocktail lounges of the United States, but the bars of Spain—cafés really. They have become our life blood. It is where we stop to find breakfast in the morning. It is where I sit to write these updates. It is the best place for a quick salad or bocadillo (sandwich). Most will let you sit and linger for hours on end if you like (not that we have time to do that on an 18 mile day). This morning the bar we stopped in was a great reward after our first 6 miles of the day. You can’t beat having a second breakfast! Most of the albergues provide a VERY simple breakfast – but a bar steps it up – fresh croissants, fresh squeezed orange juice, café con leché! On top of that, most of the bars have outside seating…feels very European to me.
Today our walk was long again, 18 miles or so. (I’m still waiting for the short days.) But one of the ways we passed our time was paying attention to the produce of the land. Wine grapes—we are in the La Rioja region—a major center for Spanish wine. Olives—that olive oil doesn’t grow on trees you know (actually, I guess it does)! And over the past days we have seen corn, sunflowers, peppers and artichokes. We have discovered lots of (not so small) personal gardens. And everywhere along the path small but juicy wild blackberries grow. So when we get tired, we just look around.
I did finally start using my earbuds and listening to music and podcasts yesterday. At the end of a long hot day, it is my mind that is most challenged. So a little diversion really helps. Nothing like a little Bruce Springsteen to give you a jolt of needed energy. And I cried a bit, missing our children when I heard the Paul Simon song, “Father and Daughter.” (“There’s never been a father loves a daughter more than I love you.”) I also heard a bit of scripture – yesterday the reflection I was listening to chose the text from Ecclesiastes 3 – “for every thing there is a season.” And I agree – for blisters and boots, for moonlight and scorching sun, for getting lost and finding a comfortable bed. To everything there is a season.