Monday, 18 May 2009

Najera

Logrono is a bit bigger than Dunedin and takes a bit of walking out of. It has, like many of the towns we have seen, an ancient heart but it is a big bustling, modern rural town. Last night we went to mass in one of the four huge churches near the albergue. There was one of those immense, gilded,four storied Spanish altar pieces containing statues of the saints, including John the Baptist with his head under his arm, and side altars containing statuary of varying age and quality. The service was, of course entirely in Spanish with congregational responses led by a mezzo soprano with a stunningly clear bell like voice. I am enough used to the Spanish Catholic service to know when we are praying, or confessing or saying the creed and do my own bits in English. As the mass ended people began to file into the church. There was a choral concert about to take place and by sitting where we were we were able to listen. I don´t know whether the choir was a local one, or a visiting one, or an important one, but they were superb. The pieces were all by Spanish conductors I had never heard of, except for a piece by Handel. The acoustics in the church were extremely good, the conductor, a woman in her early forties, moved with such grace and expressiveness, and the choir all swayed and bounced as they moved with the music. Wonderful. Pure gift.

So this morning it was back to the programme. Up at six, and away by six thirty for the long trudge out of the city. The route took us past a lake and woodland and then up and down increasingly rugged country until we got to this rough and tumble, business like little town set on a river whose banks are lined with grandfathers teaching their grandsons to fish. It has been a hot day, but a good one, and we are getting fitter. 30 km now fits easily into the bit before lunch, and tomorrow we'll see if we can extend it a bit.

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