Spec Cities, Anthropology, and Holy Chickens – Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Today we continued to walk through the La Rioja region of Spain – vineyards as far as the eye can see. I even managed to have some red wine from the region with my lunch today.

One area we travelled through was especially fascinating. Back before the recession of 2008, Spaniards were as crazy about building housing as we were. Golf courses, homes and vacation areas were built “on spec,” in the hope that people would buy these properties at high prices and that the builders would make a good profit. As you might guess, in many places that never happened. We walked through a kind of ghost city today, called Cirueña. The town was designed for 10,000 people but today there are only a bit more than 100 residents. Lots of condo type buildings are totally complete yet empty. The area is still home to an 18 hole golf course. Sadly, the whole complex stands as a witness to a bygone era and hopes that never materialized.

We continue to meet many fascinating people along the way. Today Lena and I walked about 40 minutes with two young women friends, one from New Zealand, the other from Australia. The one I talked to had just graduated university in anthropology. She is “between commitments” and is making the most of her time. After a bit of a fun trek through Europe with her Australian friend, she and her comrade are taking on the Camino. (After the Camino she is off to teach English in Vietnam with a government sponsored program.) She had wonderful observations about her experiences along the way through Spain. She called the Camino a “liminal,” in-between space, where people make discoveries about what is coming next for them in life. We also had some great conversations about our respective cultures, especially how the majority population in each country has treated its native peoples. I was somewhat surprised to see the many connections between the issues faced in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. So much to learn.

Ending up in Santo Domingo, we learned that there is a particular legend connected with this area. I will let you read about it here if you are interested. Suffice it to say that it has to do with unrequited love, hanging, hens and roosters, and a bit of a resurrection. What that means in the present is that in the beautiful cathedral in town, there is a kind of Gothic chicken coop. When you visit you will see that inside the cathedral there is an area that houses a hen and a rooster as witness to this miracle tale. One local made sure we knew that “they change out the rooster and hen every 15 days!”

Finally, because it makes me smile, here is a picture me eyeing our Spanish hot chocolate and churros. Enjoy!

Author: Jim Zazzera

I find myself thinking about the past, wondering about the future, and doing my best to live in the present.

11 thoughts on “Spec Cities, Anthropology, and Holy Chickens – Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada”

  1. Greetings to both you and Lena! Both my husband and I have been enjoying your fun and inspiring blog! We love the info, photos, and personal reflections! I am trying to liken some of the physical struggles to spiritual struggles and am remembering small joys along the way and the renewal at the end of the day! Like your walk!


  2. Amazing pictures, especially the hot chocolate – it looks like pudding! Interesting legend about the chicken & rooster, I would think the sheriff might have had a heart attack after seeing his cooked food come alive! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Prayers for another successful walking day.💞


  3. Wonderful to be able to follow you on your trip and daily experiences. I have seen Spain on the other side of the country but I’m too old to try your trip now! So it is a real joy to experience your trip with you.
    Love, Hilde


  4. This morning, I read your blog posts out loud to Moi—In our pjs and enjoying breakfast. But I can almost imagine myself alongside you both! Thanks for the stories. Love you! Xoxoxo


  5. Was hoping to see the rooster and hen in your pix, Jim. Glad you’re getting all ‘the stories’ along with
    the photo – those are the best. Love hearing from both of you. Enjoy!!


  6. Oh my… that hot chocolate does look like pudding! Yum! Glad you took time to enjoy a glass of wine, helps with the blisters too, haha.
    Loved the chicken story…. mildly reminiscent of a bible story, with the silver cup being secreted in his things. I’m so enjoying your walk, without the blisters 🙏


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