My pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago V

I wake up feeling a little bit nauseous, which is a pity, because our host left us a selection of cereals, lemon cake, yogurt and small juices in the fridge. Our host is living up to her reputation! I trust the nausea will pass and maybe even quicker if I do eat something. I eventually maange a piece of lemon cake and take a juice for the road. Once again our host is living up to her reputation!

We leave Zubiri in darkness almost forgetting our walking sticks which were hanging by the entrance. We want to get a bit of a head start on the sun today. Luckily I have a torch on me as the road is littered with rocks and you really have to watch your step in the dark. We also meet up with a mother and daughter from Nicaragua and we walk together for a few kilometers as my torch lights the way. The mother is walking the camino as a lifelong dream and her daughter decided to join her in the hope that it will motivate her to live a healthier life and lose some weight. Everyone is walking this road for different reasons and I find it very fascinating to share and learn from others.

The first part passes through the outskirts of town and is a little bit industrial. We also pass the mining operations of Magnesitas Navarra and eventually head back into the forest. Today things are going well and we make good time. Our place in Pamplona is booked, but if you do not get there by 15:00, you lose your booking, so we keep up the pace.

A big group of friends from Spain passes us singing and talking loudly. None of them are carrying any backpacks which might explain their joy and enthusiasm. I feel a slight irritation at them but I think it’s because I envy them not having to carry any weight.

We stop for a rest and some sugar in the form of coke in Larosoana. It seems this is becoming my daily fix. The little restaurant is on the banks of the river and it is really a beautiful spot to rest our weary bodies.

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The second half of the day offers a couple of steep climbs but by now we are getting stronger and it is not as bad as the first day. We get to Arre on the outskirts of Pamplona and make our way through a beautiful municipal park almost all the way to Pamplona. We stop for a quick ice-cream and I’m thinking it must be the heat, but I could swear it’s the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted!

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As we come in to Pamplona we stop by a water fountain and run into Arie, a Dutchman we met outside Roncesvalles who has been walking for two months already. He started his Camino in Den Haag, Holland and is also on his second pair of shoes. I notice his GPS and ask him if he would be so kind to see if he can find our sleeping place for us. (Our place is booked, but we have no idea where in Pamplona it is.) As I give him the details he exclaims that it is exactly where they are booked tonight. Again the Camino provides for us! We follow him and under 10 min later arrive at our residence for the night, Calle del Carmen.

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The owner is a wonderfully colourful woman with a gruff voice and she seems to think I’m Italian because I allowed her to finish her smoke before booking us in. Luckily for us she likes Italians and we become instant friends. She even gives us keys to the cupboards under our bed which she doesn’t normally hand out anymore. She explains that people leave without handing their keys back and it ends up costing her a fortune to keep replacing them. We are therefore privileged and can head into town without having to carry all our belongings with us.

I immediately jump into a shower and we share the washing machine with another girl from Canada (€3 split 3 ways is a bargain). There is a machine that sells beer for €1 and after my shower it is going down very well. We have a little courtyard where we can hang our washing and I meet up with a guy from Hungary who has a terribly big blister on his big toe. Luckily I have some disinfectant and “Friars Balsam (I do not know if this is a known product in other countries, but as South Africans we were brought up with Friars Balsam to clean, disinfect and dry out scrapes and wounds) and assist him in draining the blister and cleaning it out. I am very thankful that we’ve been blister free and glad for the money spent on buying “1000 mile socks”. I hope for his sake his blister clears up. (Being blister free could be due to our “1000 mile socks” which really seemed to do the job.)

As soon as our washing is done we head into town.

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I love the feel of the centuries old city, the cobbled paving, buildings, churches and fountains. The only thing I don’t know is just how anyone would want to run away from a herd of very upset bulls down these narrow little streets with nowhere to hide!

Talking about bulls, they seem to be quite scarce. I manage to find one bull, but don’t understand what all the fuss is about!

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We stop for a glass of wine and just soak in the vibe as the city comes back to life after siesta. Eventually we find a restaurant that boasts real Angus Black beef on their burgers and I’m not disappointed.

After our burgers we stroll through the streets and run into Bicente and Naudia from St Jean and it is a real joyous reunion. We excitedly share our stories of the last few days and what we’ve discovered about ourselves. We also share a glass of wine together and head back to Calle del Carmen. The town seems more alive now than earlier and I think the party is only just starting. Unfortunately for us, this walking business drains all your energy and all I can think of now is hitting my bed.

I still struggle to fall asleep. Tonight I can really feel the sunburn and there is people arriving and moving around all night. This sleeping on the top bunk is also not making it any easier as every movement is amplified and getting down means I have to wake up properly in lieu of breaking my neck. It is also very hot and stuffy with the added curtain in front of the bed (great for privacy though) and it takes hours before I finally drift off.

Have no idea what to expect of tomorrow but Bicente made me promise that we will try to get to Eunate, a beautiful Romanesque Church that has been linked with the Knights Templar.  The only problem is that it adds an extra couple of kilometers to the route.  We will see how it goes…

Zubiri – Pamplona 20.9km.

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