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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Tummy bug in an interesting village.

This is now our seventh Camino type walk and we had always been blessed with injury free and illness free walking but our luck has deserted us on this one. We have been attacked by a very severe tummy bug which meant that today's walk had to be cancelled. I will not go into any details but suffice to say a toilet always had to be near. On the bright side if you have to be stuck anywhere remote then Arantzazu with its famous Sanctuary and the eagles soaring overhead isn't a bad place to be. I spent some time today discovering the basilica, the culture centre, the seminary and the surrounding village. I found out that Arantzazu has a special place on the Camino Ignatian since it is a fact that St. Ignatius of Loyola came to the Santuary of Arantzazu in 1522 where he thought a vigil would be beneficial for his pilgrimage to Montserrat. So if a rest or pit stop was good enough for the Saint, after climbing the Basque mountains, then it's good enough for us. The sanctuary over the centuries has been ravaged by three major fires with the last one in 1834 burning it to the ground so what now stands proudly on the steep cliff face was started in 1950 and is an example of Basque architecture and design. To someone like our Camino friend Shane this all might have significant meaning and symbolism but for me it was all very grey and dark. I actually found it to be quite maudlin. Later in the afternoon I stood on the terrace of the hotel and gazed transfixed as six large eagles gave an impressive display of grace and agility as they circled above. The small village, apart from the religious attraction of the Bascilia, is also a meeting place for ramblers and walkers who spend their weekends walking the hundreds of marked trails and then finish at one of the three tabernas for a relaxing drink. The name of the village, Arantzazu, comes from the Basque meaning a place surrounded by hawthorn bushes and this afternoon we watched as an elderly man sat on a bench for hours whittling hawthorn sticks into walking canes with intrigedly carved heads. Whatever we feel like tomorrow we have to move on and restart our journey where we should have been today. Because of time constraints we have to be in Laguardia. So here's hoping and praying.

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