April 17, 2016 Sunday
13.6 miles Started at 8:30 a.m. – arrived 3:30 p.m.
I left the “dormitory” bedroom at 5 a.m. The musical sounds of the snoring and tossing and other bodily sounds had me awake anyway. – I might as well get up. I quilty tip toed outside, across the yard to the Internet room. It was cold and damp. The night before a friendly lady J from England told me she had made reservations through booking.com for a placen Pamplona,, After being somewhat tramatized by arriving soaking wet in the rain and finding the first albergue full, I thought I would do the same. I picked the same place she did, hoping to see her. It was close the cathedral. So I thought I would be able to find it.
I was missing Rosie. The last two days we had started together. I promised myself I would not give in to the negative self-critical thinking of the day before. I had my mental health hat on, I had my plan.. I picked a particular song from my Baptist days “Jesus, Jesus,, Jesus. . . . Sweetest name I know. . . .” I would start singing that to myself if I started blaming myself for being so slow. I practiced gratitude. There was so much to be grateful for, but I had to practice it in reality not just in theory.
The first stop was to take a picture of the bridge leaving town. It was pouring rain when I arrived the day before.
It seemed like we were immediately going uphill along a beautiful path thru farms and trees. A friendly Irishman came along side me when the path was narrow and I let him pass. He didn’t go ahead of me but started talking, and kept saying,”No hurry.” We introduced ourselves and walked side by side when the path allowed. His Irish accent was so thick I didn’t understand most of what he said, but I understood enough that he was friendly and funny. He was also kind and reassuring. He kept saying, “No hurry, Geri, go at your own pace.” If I stopped to take a picture, he stopped too. He is built strong and sturdy like a rugby player. He told me he was a lineman. Every time we passed a power line he would tell me something about it, but I wasn’t sure what he was telling (his accent – I had understood Rosie’s struggling English better than C from Ireland’s English) When I asked him how he was able to take time off work for the Camino he said he was off work because he broken his arm. I asked him if it was on the job. He laughed and laughed and said he broke it on vacation in the Canary Islands. I couldn’t understand the whole story, he was laughing and I was laughing at his laughing, but then I understood when he said it was when he was “pissed.” (Irish for drunk) Well of course, I would have a natural attraction (not sexual, just natural affinity) for a fun-loving drinking Irishman. Eventually he moved on, saying he was stopping at the first little town. I smiled to myself and was so grateful for Recovery from loving alcoholics . This day was starting pretty well with gratitude and a reminder of whereI was and where I am now.
I was walking alone now, others passing me by. I wasn’t emotionally fragile like the day before. They were just people passing me by, not a sign that I was doing or had done something wrong. I continued walking through tree lined paths overlooking the Rio Arga.
Once a young man passed by and said “Buena Dias”” We spoke for a few minutes in Spanish, he seemed to understand me. He was such a nice looking young Spaniard. We spoke a little more in Spanish, just simple things until one of us realized we were both American. We laughed even harder when he said he lived in Orane County and I lived in San Diego. Nice looking American boy. He went on his way and I continued walking alone. About 11:00 am I was ready to pay someone 100 Euros to take my backpack and carry it to Pamplona or throw it in the Rio Arga. I made it a joke to myself. Keep laughing and be grateful. Grateful for the good weather, even though I was walking thru mud from yesterday’s rain. So much to be grateful for, but also time to start singing that song.
About 11:30 I walked through a tiny little village and looked over at the cafe where my fellow pilgrims had stopped for a break. They were huddled in groups refreshing themselves with food and coffee orvino, laughing and joking. I went in and was introduced to torilla de patata. It was love at first bite. It is nothing like a. Mexican tortilla, but more. like a crustless rich quiche. Vegan no more!
My shoulders are hurting from the weight and I remind myself it is mind over matter and that in a week I will be more used to it. About 1:00.farther down the road I come across a pilgrim walking slower than me. I adjust my pace to his and happy to do so as we strike up a conversation. He is T from Orange County, two months older than me, divorced and a musician. He plays in many venues – more instruments than I can recall – trumpet, sax, clarinet, etc. T is a retired engineer, worked at Beckman (note UCSD friends), designing instruments for retinal studies.We start climbing hills. He is wearing a monitor and makes sure his heart rate doesn’t go over 130 (I think). He puts his monitor on my wrist, I am at 116 after a very steep hill. He says that’s okay for my age he should know, same as his age).
It is Sunday, families are out having picnics or fishing as we cross the Rio Arga. Soon we are in the suburbs – the sound of traffic and children laughing and . . . And . . . . are so loud. I am used to the sound of waterfalls and birds.
T is a good conversationalist. He s a retired engineer, designing diagnostic equipment for the retina. He worked for Beckman (note UCSD friends). We have walked and talked for almost 3hours and not once did I think about how heavy my backpack was. Mind over matter? I guess I need a new mind.
Soon we are at the gate of the ancient city of Pamplona. T’s friends are waiting for him. One of them is the young man from Orange County that I had been speaking Sanish with earlier that morning.
I say good bye to T, so grateful for his company. What a gift from God. He is going to spend a day with his friends in Pamplona tomorrow. I walk into the town and am immediately approached by a man asking me where I began my Camino and am I alone. I cheerfully say. “NO – my friends are waiting for me at the cafe!” I point to a cafe just 20 feet away. (Sorry-a lie for the greater good?) I quickly walk away looking for the Cathedral. One of the pilgrims recognizes me and out of the blue asks me if I need any help. I told thin my albergue is close to the cathedral and we find it on his map and he walks with me to the door. This was totally unsolicited and not needed, but how kind was this Asian young man. I am so happy to check into this modern albergue. It is clean and so far there is only one other person in a room of 14 bunks. I take a walk around Pamplona and come backto meet some of my house-mates: Canadians, Danes, Englishmen, J from Kent (who I’d walked with from Orisson to Roncesvalles) – all in different room. Later I find out I am sharing the 14 bunk room with my friend from this morning – C the happy go lucky Irshman. I settle in for the night after taking a shower, using the WIFI, doing laundry. I have the room to myself as C is out on the town.
I wake up at 4 am and tip toe out to the computer room – once again affected by the sounds and smells of my bunk-mate. I am in desperate need of fresh air. About 5 am C comes out in his too-tight underwear and goes outside for smoke. He is outside 30 in the cold feet from the Cathedral smoking -barefoot and in his underwear. I am still not used to this immodesty. I Later I hear him tapping on the door. He is locked outside in his underwear. He left the door code in his jeans. Never a dull moment with the laughing jolly fun-loving Irshman. I let him in, laughing and joking.
Day 4 has been a good day. No self-critical obsessions, beautiful scenery, found a slow walker, grateful for clarity and recovery and kind pilgrims. I am so glad to be here.