Camino de Santiago: Day 11, Ventosa, Spain
Distance from Logroño to Ventosa, Spain 20.34 kilometers
I have been getting a lot of emails about what I think the ages of travelers on the Camino de Santiago. I was curious too and after a bit of searching, it turns out, that the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office publishes a complete set of statistics and as of this time last year (May 2015) the breakdown is:
Under 30 – 14.65%
30 – 60 – 57.92%
Over 60 – 27.43%
Kind of a broad breakdown, but my guess would have been that the average traveler walking the Camino de Santiago would be about 55 or so. It is amazing how little correlation there seems to be between age and fitness level. Over the days we have been passed by many people that must be in their 70s or above. We have ourselves passed many people who are half our own age. We have learned that “The Way” doesn’t discriminate and, although walking the Camino de Santiago does not require an extraordinary level of physical fitness, being prepared, mentally and physically, is import.
We slept in a bit in Logroño taking advantage of a private room and knowing we had a relatively short day ahead. Although the Logroño isn’t very big, it is a bit sprawling, and the route of the Camino de Santiago thoughtfully took us out of town through a number of pleasant parks and by some lovely community lakes. It was again threatening rain, but the most we ever got was a bit of drizzle. The morning route took us through fields filled with an astonishing variety of spring wildflowers and oceans of green winter wheat. Just as the city was completely giving up its influence on the landscape we came upon one of the more memorable characters of the Camino.
Marcelino Lobato is famous on this stretch of The Way. He has personally walked the Camino de Santiago fifty times and his life is so intertwined with this journey and the people who take part in their pilgrimages that he spends his days giving advice and stamping credentials in a little stall by the lake. Marcelino says, “cada peregrino hace su Camino”, or “each pilgrim does their own pilgrimage” and with each passing day and with each person we meet, we are learning how true that is.
The landscape over the last several days has been changing. We are more into rolling hills and there are more and more vineyards as we move through the province of Rioja. Although still very beautiful the area seems somehow poorer, the villages fewer between and the area by the Camino a bit more industrial. It was almost with some relief when we arrived into the medieval town of Navarette, it’s most outstanding feature being the 16th century Church of La Asunción.
We arrived into Ventosa without reservations, kind of a chancy proposition considering how popular the Camino de Santiago is becoming, but we got lucky and landed a room at the fantastic Albergue San Saturnino. There was a garden where we took a bottle of wine and chatted with other travelers from all over the world. Later we found a comfortable restaurant, again lucky because there were only two in town, and finished the day with yet another delicious plate of paella.