Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kay's summary - Flowers and Mud

Tonight we are back in Pamplona, which is where our first camino began.  So in a way, we feel as though we have completed it already!  We have started to talk about what we will do next, which places we want to see again.  Tomorrow is the first of May, a public holiday here in Spain, so there isn´t much point staying in Pamplona, so we will walk 11kms to an albergue at Zariquiegui.
We were surprised how few kms we covered in the last week - about 65kms.  But it was so different from our previous camino.  The first days was 8kms uphill, but nothing like the next day - 17kms in the mountains.  It was cold and wet - we just kept our ponchos on all the time.  The views were beautiful.  But there were no coffee shops, no places to take a break in the rain.  At the higher altitudes, the fog closed in and I thought of all the dire warnings we get!  But we could see enough to not go over the edge, so we pushed on.  I even began to make a note of the numbers of the marker poles that are there.  But eventually we got to the downhill part and found ourselves on the route we were told not to take!  it was steep, but the reward was the beautiful beech forests, with no undergrowth, that we were walking through.  I cannot describe the contrast between admiring the beauty and my sore legs and feet!

Eventually we reached the monastery town of Roncesvalles.  We had heard about the huge refugio there, with hundreds in a room.  But what we didn´t know was that it was a brand new building, over three floors.  it was bright, clean, warm, spacious and excellently run.  We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and fell into bed.  The "alarm" the next morning was a hospitalerio (helper in an albergue) who switched on the lights and began playing his guitar - Morning has Broken, Wake up Little Suzy etc.  It was a wonderful wakeup call.   And for those at CSJ who wonder about staying in the refugios, this is a god place to start.  Oh yes, they also do your washing for 2.7 euros - too good to refuse!

But we really needed a short day the next day and walked just 7 km to Espinal, where we found a casa rurale (B&B) .  We slept before lunch, after lunch, and again at night!  Another lady, same age as me, was relieved to find we had checked in and she was not the only one to feel the effects of the Pyrenees.  But heating must be expensive in Spain, and my Spanish didn´t run to offering a few more euros for her to turn on the heating a bit more.

More walking to an albergue in Zubiri. The next day we wanted a shorter day, so phoned this restored Basque House at Akeretta, to be told that it was used in the filming of The Way - the house where the owner wanted to be bullfighter.  It was a beautiful house and a comfortable night.
We have become experts in walking in rain and mud.  We had practically none of this two years ago.  I used to wonder whether you really needed waterproof shoes to walk the camino - well, you do!  Our ponchos work well, and there is no point trying to clean your shoes.  there are flowers in the fields.  This morning we saw a horse and young foal that couldn't have been more than a day old - took a photo for Mary!  Everywhere is green and mossy.  Tomorrow is the first day where we will be crossing familiar ground so we can see how different the countryside is.  Already is warmer, now that we are away from the mountains.   While I don´t like the rain, it is certainly preferable (for me ) to the very hot weather we had a couple of years ago.
My ankle and knee are doing well.  But when walking over this uneven and muddy ground, I have to make sure (as best I can) that all is aligned before putting my weight on my feet.
We are well, taking everything one day at a time.   

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