This morning, the 12 occupants of Room 3 on the second floor of Casa del Peregrinos in Navarrete were awoken a little earlier than expected when a mobile phone alarm sounded at 0530 for about two minutes.
The announcement of a new day by way of an electronic tone in the morning is, of course, quite normal.
But my phone – and those of 99.9% of my fellow travelers – has been on silent since the very beginning of this journey, nine nights ago, when we were all educated in the rules of communal living – no noise between 10pm and 6am and definitely no mobile phone alarms or message alerts.
Everyone had obeyed these simple rules until this morning, when 11 out of 12 people were awoken by a lengthy electronic cock crow.
The miscreant, naturally, slept right through his crime and the rest of us silently agreed to let the misdemeanour pass.
It was only 30 minutes, anyway.
But it made me think about the happy absence of unexpected electronic intrusions into my day.
For nine days, I have only looked at my phone every now and then, mostly to check the compass and pedometer, at rest stops, or in the afternoon or in the evening.
I’ve been in control of my phone, rather than it piping up whenever it felt like it, to interrupt what I was doing, or what I was thinking, or who I was talking with.
The phone is no longer the arbiter of my day.
Silencing it is a liberation from its strident insistence on my attention.
I recognise that it may be much easier for an itinerant vagabond like me to resist the siren call of outside influence and to try to truly live in the moment.
But I think I’ve learned something by flipping that switch to silent and I think it’ll stay like that for good.
So, apologies in advance if I don’t reply to a call or a message right away, but I will have been doing something else that deserved my full attention at the time.
Then it’ll be your turn.
You’ll then get my full attention too.
Today’s unexpectedly excellent conversation was with Alex, a Navarrete local, who turned around and walked with me for half an hour towards Ventosa, ostensibly so that he could practice his English.
He really didn’t need to – he treated me to a fantastically detailed history lesson about the Camino, an orange juice and a discussion on the relative merits of Bradford and Huddersfield, where he’d lived for two years.
His natural enthusiasm, openness and friendship to a stranger walking through his land was absolutely priceless.
I’ve also bumped into Heidi 1 & 2 again, plus Bendt, and Ethan and Kalila, who have restored my faith in the potential for survival of liberal values in America again.
Today’s walk saw another 22km ticked off the total, mostly slightly uphill in good weather and a cooling wind, traveling from Navarrete to Nájera and then to little Azofra, where I’ve had a good meal and am looking forward to a room with only one other occupant.
Casa del Peregrinos, Navarrete:
A very good price for a multi-person bunkbed dorm set up with paper sheets and pillowcases. Tightly packed, with low head room on the bottom bunk, but good value, excellent location and lovely staff.
And one guy with a mobile phone…
Blisters: 4 (5)
Left Foot has shown signs of open rebellion again, generally refusing to carry its fair share of the workload for about 30 minutes on each stretch, until it realises that resistance is futile and gets with the programme.
Trips, Slips and Falls: 1 (1)
A comical trip on the step going into a pharmacy in order to purchase more Compeed to mollify Left Foot, quickly recovered and unnoticed by the counter staff. I think.
Applications of Factor 50: 6 (48)
Filling of Water Bottles: 4 (21)
Unsuccessful requests for Parmesan cheese: 1
Acceptance of pathside lemonade stall opportunities: 0 (2)
Wrong turns taken: 1 (1)
Mobile phone chargers left behind: 1
New mobile phone chargers bought: 1
Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: Back down to about 50 (it’s an underpopulated area)
Poncho deployments: 0 (2)