01 July 2008

Los Arcos to Logroño

Day 5
6:30 am - 2:00 pm
28 km

I decided to take it easy this day, because I'd been pushing myself too much. My blisters were just starting to graduate into callouses, and it seemed like not such a bad idea to go easy on them before they started their new lives. Also, the next town from Logroño was another 13 km further along--a bit much for the end of the day. Early in my journey there, I was in a bad mood. The previous evening, I'd read an article in The Nation about the catastrophic consequences of environmental degradation in the 21st century. When I arrived at the first town of the day, some guy was standing in front of me with a camera aimed at my face. He snapped away and then handed me a slip of paper with his web address. You can surely see the annoyance inscribed upon my brow.

At the next next town, I had my cafe con leche, though, and then all was right in the world. After another giant 16 km leap, I was in Viana. There, I came across a miraculous sight such as appears to humanity but once in a great long while, truly an epoch-defining event that remains in one's memory, indelibly, forever: an open post office in Spain. I took this opportunity to unload about 3.5 kg worth of crap and mail it to myself in Santiago de Compestela, where it will be scrapped on July 23 or 24. So once again, I am on a deadline. But I was also excited to discover that Viana, Spain is the final resting place of Cesar Borgia! You may not have heard of him, but he was one of Renaissance Italy's most notorious and ruthless condottieri. His father was a Pope (wait, how can a Pope have children...?), and he himself was a bishop at the age of 15 (of Pamplona!) and a cardinal at 18. By the age of 31, when he died, he'd received numerous other titles, became the first person in history to resign the cardinalship, and nearly conquered Italy before his Pope-father died, and he was exiled to Spain. To top things off, he was the primary inspiration of Machiavelli's "The Prince", in which all princes are exhorted to behave like the murderous, coercive, but pragmatic Borgia. No, wait, even better: his image became the model in his lifetime for numerous portraits of JESUS CHRIST! And it's been speculated that, on this bases, all subsequent portrayals of the SON OF GOD have been based on it. So, I don't feel quite so bad that I haven't achieved as much in my own life of similar length. Who could compete with all that? At the cathedral where he's buried, I got my credential stamped. How lowly we Italians have come.

In the early afternoon, I arrived in the provincial city of Logroño, my first stop in the famous wine-producing region of La Rioja. I soaked my feet.

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