May 29, 2008 Nájera to Santo Domingo

It was clear to me now that Santo Domingo de la Calzada would be as far as I would get before leaving for the weekend’s trip to see Gail in Copenhagen. I set out from Nájera at first light, walking up the pathway through the red cliffs of this lovely, relaxed town.

After Nájera the terrain begins to stretch out into vast fields of grain. In the spring these fields are vibrant in their hues of green and as I walked I soaked in the breathtaking beauty of this amazing region. After Cirueña, one particular stretch captured my imagination. It is a  small valley in which the camino follows a farm road down a hill, then turns to the right and gradually goes up the opposite hill. This gives one of the few vistas on the Camino Frances of perhaps a full mile of the camino itself. On this particular sunny, spring day the colors were amazing and I was thankful for the opportunity to walk in this picturesque land.

Over the last few days I’d come to know a Frenchman named Luc. He spoke only French and was patient with my attempts to communicate with him using my high school Français. I walked some distance with him over the previous days, and when I arrived at the big church at Santo Domingo de la Calzada I was surprised to see Luc with bandages on his face holding out his hat, hoping for donations from visitors to the cathedral. He told me he’d fallen at a nearby creek and hurt himself and in the confusion had lost all his money. I gave him some Euros and wished him the best, knowing the Camino and other pilgrims would also help.

I checked in at the Parador Hotel just across from the church and enjoyed this stay at what would be one of my favorite camino hotels. I arranged with the desk to get a taxi to Burgos early the next morning for my long trip to Copenhagen. For dinner I walked out to the new section of town along the main road, got some cash at an ATM, and began to look ahead to the many miles I’d cover off the camino in the next few days.

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