Sunday, September 25, 2016

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés - Los Arcos

GR1 Sendero Historico day 17.
Distance: 27.0km (510.0km), time spent: 07:00.
Waymarking: Bad, almost absent.
Weather: Overcast, but good later on.

After the long walk yesterday, I had today planned for a shorter walk. Go to Los Arcos to spend some time with the pilgrims and reminisce about the good days on the Camino again. I looked forward to a short day where I could get some time to relax, but that was not meant to be. Today, the waymarking and the description of the trail in the guidebok caused me some problems. I knew that in Navarre the waymarking would almost be bleached away by the sun, but not that I would happen so quickly.

Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro in Torres del Rio.

Back in Torres del Rio, I was the last one leaving, the pilgrims woke up in the wee hours of the day as usual and continued further on the long way to Santiago de Compostela. I ate two breakfast and then I left as well, returning to Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés in a taxi. The ride was relatively expensive, but given that I got down to Torres del Rio without paying and that it is so cheap to stay at a pilgrim albergue, it did not matter much. Back underneath the Sierra de Codés, everything was quiet.

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés in the morning.

Clouds lay densely in the sky, but through small cracks light from the sun escaped, like distinct rays in the air. It created peculiar lights and hues on the landscape below where the route went from Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés. Somewhere down there, among the low undulating hills, goes the Camino and the line of pilgrims slowly moving along it; up here, I stood alone. Engrossed by the view, I watched the different layers of the scenery formed by the light.

On the way from Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés to Otinano, a remarkably light on the plains of Navarre.

Where the trail now goes, there exists no marking, I have to completely rely on the guidebook to find the way. The route has in a way literally vanished without a trace. On my GPS, the route is just as gone and dead, I knew I was going to get problems when I noticed that I could only see the first section of the trail on it. I have to cross over fields, find agricultural roads, counting the number of meters that I go, but I find my way. At the highest point on a ridge the trail passes over, I can confirm that I am on the correct path, one single waymark on a tree. This may classify as getting some excitement along the way. The route down towards Desojo is an exciting and abandoned-like path throughy a messy terrain.

Down towards Otinano, a flatter landscape awaits me, but still there are some hills and heights to be seen. Like Monjardin to the left in the background, which I five years stood upon and scouted out over the Camino from the ruins of Castillo de San Esteban.

Worse was to come. The GR1 leaves Desojo on a gravel track. At the junction there are an abundance of waymarks, bizarrely enough, but after that it stops. A full stop, as if to say that the route goes in that direction, but from now on you are on your own. At first, I end up one kilometer astray, out on a small field on top of a small hill. I came there after following the directions of the guidebook, which told me to ignore three exits to the right. I counted three and proceeded further, the third gravel road I ignored turned out to be the right one.

The church in Otinano with the ridge of Sierra de Codés that I walked across yesterday.

The landscape around me had now begun to resemble more and more the landscape that I remembered from Navarre when I walked the Camino. Round undulating low ridges in a cultivated area. However pleasant it was, it now drowned in the frustration. To help me, I had put on my GPS to measure exactly the distance that I walk. In my guidebook it was written that I should walk for 1.4km and then ignore the gravel road that went to the right at a junction and shortly after a turn to the left. After walking for about four kilometres, I came to the village of Mués, which is not situated on the trail. I was not happy, my short day turned into a long day, to walk the four kilometres back again was not funny. The correct way at the junction after 1.4km was the right hand turn (sorry, John).

A window to Sierra de Codés with the summits of Joar and Laplana.

This caused me to be unsure of where the trail continued when I found myself at the small chapel dedicated to Santa Teodosia. And I was fed up. From the chapel, I could see Los Arcos. Quite consciously, I chose to take the route that went directly in that direction, GR1 or not. I strode through terrain and fields, until it did not go any longer, and I had to follow a dirt road further. A faint waymark revealed the gravel road to be the GR1. When I arrived in Los Arcos, I had walked almost thirty kilometres, this was supposed to be a relaxing and short walk under twenty. My feet had still surprised me, I was tired, but they did not feel as painful as before.

On the wrong way with a view towards the ridge and Ermita de Santa Teodosia that the correct way passes by.

When I walked the Camino, I went mostly straight through Los Arcos and came to the small town from the east, now I came from a different direction. Nothing had moved, the buildings stood in exactly the same places, the streets looked the same. As In Torres del Rio, it was the same as that time. As expected, there were already many pilgrims, but I would not share a dormitory with them this time, I opted for a room for myself at a guesthouse (Mavi).

Ermita de Santa Teodosia with Joar and Laplana at the back.

This time, I sat more and observed the pilgrims from the side, with my own memories as a backdrop. I could see the same limping way of walking, the loose laughter over a cold beer after the pilgrim walk of the day was finised, hear the same discussion about the albergues in the next place to stop, about Santiago as an uncertain fate far away. The stories that are repeated year after year, day by day, pilgrim to pilgrim. Menu del peregrino, today as yesterday, as me.

The dome of Iglesia de Santa Maria, Los Arcos.

After Los Arcos, later on the Camino, I was told how beautiful the church in the town was, Santa Maria, I had not been inside and looked at it. I atoned for it now, I am not a religious person, but it was a small sin not to do it back then. Los Arcos also marks the beginning of the flat plains of Navarre that the route goes through, one can now only steal an envious glance backwards to the Sierra de Codés. My plan for tomorrow is to go to the ruins of Baigorri and spend the night in my tent there.

The day fades out to Alright by Jamiroquai...

Shadow of ornaments in the Santa Maria church in Los Arcos.

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