Day 10 (to Azofra): Slow-walking free-style

The morning started at 6:00 with …

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Gregorian chants that serve as alarm clock here. Today I planned for a slightly lighter day… 17 km. I started walking around 7:20, but bearing in mind the slow tempo I planed for today, I expected everyone to pass me by quickly.
Today is slow-walking free-style, ankle swelling didn’t subside, but compress bandage makes it bearable for walking.First one to pass me by is Louis and slowly others catch up. I’ve covered quite a distance when first Korean girls, then Brazilians overtake me.
Taking it easy, easy, easy, is the motto for today.I am joined for a section by a German gent from Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart, he started from SJPDP two days before me.If slow-walking was an Olympic discipline I’d be serious finalist for a gold medal today. I slowly approach (and slowly being the operative word here) Najara. After a while … and a while …. and a while …. and a while…. I arrived to first city streets. But first I took a break on a staircase near the school.Ahead is a bar where I tried an excellent tapas (small sandwich) and a funny looking sink faucet made of glass. Resupplied at the nearby supermarket I look for a church (its Palm Sunday today) and can’t find one. After crossing the bridge I come across a Spanish lady rollerblading with her daughters who kindly provides directions. The church ts not too far, but a bench is closer so I stop for a snack break.The church is few streets away only its now noon and the mass is at 13h … fortunately there is another bench near the church. In a few minutes I am joined by a group of Koreans who aren’t sure which is the main church entrance, neither am I, but there are only two options. At the other entrance  spot two ladies with a pile of olive branches … are they selling them or giving them away … a dilemma is resolved when I see both selecting a branch and going inside the church.Inside the church Gregorian chants on loudspeakers create quite an enchanting atmosphere. I chat with a priest before the mass.He also visited Croatia, in fact almost every European I met so far has either been to Croatia or is planing to go, and everyone else heard about it … we appear to be a popular destination even in Korea. I only had to give one geography lesson so far.
The mass starts with a procession around the church with children carrying specially decorated olive and palm branches. After the mass I go round the back to the Camino … only to discover the Camino winds back near the same church.I leave Najera for another uphill, sun-shining climb. Naturally I failed to refill the water bottle … again.
Uphill … then a plain…then uphill again….then a view of the town tantalizes  from a distance …. it goes on forever … or about 6km. A French family passes me by and at a glance one guy looks like my doppelganger  … or it could be a mirage. I finally reach Azofra (Arabic for tribute), passing through the town until I reach the albergue where I’m greeted by Ginny and other Koreans.This is one of the more luxurious albegues on the Camino. Two bed per room and …. best of all …. a small pool to soak your feet into … its a paradise. Dieter is here as well, together with Stella and Jake, and a Dutch lady from yesterday.
During dinner, a few older local gentlemen are playing a forceful game of … dominoes. The table is shaking each time a tile is thrown.My roommate is Fernando from Madrid, a guy very into Camino, that he first did in 1982. It was quite an adventure in those days with poor infrastructure, they slept in school gyms.
My neighbor is Klaus from Stuttgart, an IT guy who quit his job to do some soul searching and decided to do the Camino. The back of his heels are blistered and each of his toes is wrapped in bandages.

Its time for a sleep .. .Fernando asks to be poked if he starts snoring … “same here”, says I.

That was day no. 10.