Another night and still no sleep to talk about. Leaving Pamplona in semi-darkness it is strange to see the town that was so busy and bustling last night, almost completely deserted. We walk through the old town and eventually into the modern part of Pamplona with a beautiful university and I also find the “new” town captivating. We stop at a grocery store and stock up on some fruit for the day.
I am having difficulty the first part of the morning and realise that not having had breakfast this morning, my blood sugar is probably plummeting. I did grab a juice out the fridge this morning at our Albergue and decide to stop immediately and fill up on some sugar. I also grab the juicy peach I bought this morning and within minutes my energy levels start picking up.
We stop in Zariquiegui at the coffee shop right across from the church. The coffee is going down nicely and we sit on the steps of the church admiring the old building- work. After my coffee I go into the church to get a stamp for my pilgrim’s passport. (You have to carry the passport with you all the time and get stamps throughout the day so that the distance walked can be verified at the end. They take the Camino very seriously.)
The atmosphere in the church is so soothing and calming, the smell, the sound of singing in the background and it literally strips away the tiredness that I’ve felt the last few days. I stand there quite a while and just allow the feeling to flood me. After getting my stamp I go outside feeling renewed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Alto del Perdon
Our walk takes us up another hill and the higher we go, the stronger the wind is blowing. We can see the wind turbines at the top and I’m thinking what a good spot it is for them. The valley stretches out below us creating the most fantastic vista. On reaching the top, Alto del Perdon (790m), we get a lovely surprise. There is a representation of wrought iron pilgrims with the inscription “Where the way of the wind crosses the way of the stars“.
Everybody poses for photographs next to the “pilgrims” and I have to steady myself as the wind almost blows me off my feet. We soak in the view for a few minutes but decide to carry on as the driving wind has brought the temperature right down and we are not properly dressed for it.
The way down is treacherous and slippery with a lot of loose rocks. For once I’m glad that I’m not on a bicycle. Bicycles are directed to surer ground though.
I still have a feeling of elation since the church and literally feel like I’m bubbling over.
Lunch consists of a ham sandwich in Uterga which we share. It is still early enough and my hope is rising that we will have the time to do the detour to the Knights Templar church. We discuss it and decide to go for it. After all, we only have one chance to see it!
As we enter Murazabal, we quickly find the arrow pointing left to Eunate and off we go. There is literally nobody else on the road or for that matter in town it seems, and for a second or two we hesitate whether we are on the right track until we see another arrow and start heading down the hill. Not far along we meet up with Beth. She broke away from her friends as she also wanted to see Eunate and so, the three of us set off.
We go through beautiful farmland with chilli bushes hanging heavy under the blood red chillis. Off in the distance I get a quick glimpse of where we are going and by now we are enjoying the peace and tranquility of the walk without all the people around. It’s good to get away from the maddening crowds at times. We get to Eunate and there is only one other girl there (the girl we shared our washing with in Pamplona). She also broke away from her group to experience a bit of peace and quiet.
The octagonal church is quite impressive but of course, we forgot about siesta time and therefore cannot get inside. Although this is a sad affair, it doesn’t bother me too much. Even just walking around the church and admiring the building-work already makes the detour worthwhile. There is something special about this place and I amenjoying the immense peace and quiet. We spend at least 30 minutes relaxing in the garden. (I could’ve spent much more!)
We head back to the route and by now it is blisteringly hot. We still follow through farmland, more chillis and asparagus, and have to climb quite a steep hill into Obanos. After that climb in the heat we decide that we will stay in Obanos tonight. Beth heads on as her accommodation for the night in Puente La Reina is already booked and she has to meet up with her friends. We say a quick goodbye and study the information map by the church to find directions to an Albergue. This turns out to be just on the other side of the church and is called Albergue USDA.
Our host is extremely friendly and helpful and we are lucky that there is hardly anybody else in the Albergue. The showers are nice and big and it has proper washing basins to do your washing. Supper is at a bar just around the corner and we spend late afternoon catching up on our diaries with a glass of wine.
We share supper with Gabrielle (an Italian girl), a couple from Hungary and our Frenchman from Zubiri (his wife is not joining him it seems). Although the others can hardly speak any English, we manage quite a conversation during supper made possible with a lot of handgestures and a willingness to share with each other. One of the amazing things about people on the Camino!
This has definitely been the most amazing day so far and I fall into bed exhausted but strangely light and rejuvenated as sleep envelops me within seconds.
Pamplona – Obanos 23.8km