A Day o. fHill towns
April 19, 2016 Tues 13.6 miles. Started at 7:45 and arrived at 3:30, took 1/2 lunch
I was the last one of the four in the albergue to leave. It is not that I slept in, it is just some times it takes along time to get everything sorted and arranged and even though I may be awake early I try to be considerate and not get up and make noise too early.
I walk out of the albergue in the cool morning and down the ancient narrow streets of this small historical town, It is chili and the cobblestone streets and stone walls holdin the night chill. Soon I am in the open and crossing the famous Queens Bridge, named in honor of Dona Mayor, wife of Sancho III. She commanded the magnificent Romanesque bridge to be build to support the safe movement of the increasing number of medieval pilgrims.
Just before joint the Rio Arga, there Is a little church. I am curious and go in. I am alone, it is early morning and something happens to me emotionally when I walk in the into the intimate quiet place where hundreds have worshipped and prayed on their knees. I am not usually affected this way in Catholic churche; I want to kneel and pray but I am afraid I won’t be able to get back up because of the weight of my backpack. Instead I lean against the post and sob like a baby. I don’t even know why I am crying, why I am so emotionally venerable. Am I over tired? Do I feel guilty because this is so hard? I don’t know but decide to thank God for the moment, thank Him for His goodness and safety, thank Him for this moment of privacy, wipe my tears and take a picture of the alter to remind me of this moment of serenity. Back outside I see J from Kent and we walk the same pace for some time. I lose him when we start climbing into some pine trees. I look down and around and I feel like I am climb Cuyamaca Mountain. And then we are in the open walking through villages. I meet a couple from Oakland and they talk about the Oakland Raiders vs the Chargers. It’s sort of fun bantering. Feels like home. A lot of climbing and we get a view of the first hill town.
J from Kent catches up with me when I stop to take a photo. He says to “You take a lot of pictures. What do you do with them?” I tell him I download them to my IPad and am sharing them my friends back home. Later ai look at them and remember what a good time I had. The photos help me remember. Then he said, Your friends back home are really interested? I just hate cameras! They distract from the experience.” He said it like he was scolding me, which I just ignored. Then he said he would share the experience with his wife when he got home, but his friends weren’t interested and he doubted if he would spend more than 5 minutes talking about it. I told him I had lots of family and friends that were looking forward every day to hearing from me and seeing pictures of where I had been and how I was doing. I told him my family wanted to know about my walk and see pictures, people in my church were praying for me, friends that I’d known since high school and college were following my walk. He could hardly believe it. (Obviously he is not a fan of social media) He then apologized for his outburst, which I told him he had no reason to apologize. He ended the conversation with, “Well, I suppose that is how it is if you are single.” We kept walking as friends, but Inside I felt so blessed and enriched by the many lives that have touched me and are in my “circle of friends, family and loved ones.”
We finally reach the hill town of Ciraqui, my fellow pilgrims stop for coffee and snacks but I keep on walking, wanting to get water but somehow miss the fountain. On the way down from the town I see the ancient Roman bridge and limb up out of a steep ravine. I walk and walk and know I need water. I ask two American girls, M and V if they know how close we are to Lorca. They aren’t sure but offer me their water – I refuse when I see how little they have, but am so touched by their kindness. We continue on a path uphill, so I think we are getting close. I hear their conversations about the difference between men and women. They are maybe 20 and have all the answers. I guess I did at that age also.
I get to Lorca, buy a big bottle of water and fill up my water bottle at the local fountain. I stop at a local cafe for my lunch time favorite, tortilla de patata. The Spaniard behind the bar is out of a Disney movie – so hospital, welcoming every pilgrim walking in the open door, singing and laughing. I leave behind the water bottle Hamouchi Manaz gave me on the flight from New York She is a Moroccan woman traveling home from Florida after helping her sister with her newborn twins.
And here come the Danish couple that shared the same albergue with me last night.. He only wants to do 10 K a day so he is going to stay here for the night. J from Kent shows up and the party seems complete. However, he sees P from Canada (the ldy looking for gems and fossils on the Pyreenes) so they take another table. It is time for me to move on. I still have about 6 more miles to Estella. I walk alone for more than an hour and soon a young man is next to me. G from Brazil is a lawyer, He decides to walk my pace and tells me that he is separated from his wife, but they are talking and he hopes for a reconciliation. He was mayor of his small town and established the Green Party in his town. We hear someone whistling at us and realize some pilgrims are motioning to us-we have gone off the way and are about to go under a a tunnel in the wrong direction. Thanks to the other pilgrim we are back on track. Soon we start climbing and I tell him not to wait for me not before I tell himI will be praying for his marriage. He thanks me and moves on.
I continue into Estella by myself, It is another beautiful historic town by a river. Passing a large cathedral, I find the municipal alberque much quicker than at Puente la Reina. J from Kent passes me by, telling me he is staying elsewhere.
I am greeted into the large room where I have been assigned a bunk by a long line of men waiting for the shower in their underwear briefs. I am still not used to the immodesty and co-ed showers. I plan to take my shower after the rush. Once again fatigue and cold hit me and I go to the diningarea to try and get warm. I am charging my IPad when I ask an attractive lady with olive skin asks me if the Internet is working for her. She recognizes me and we are so happy to find each other. This is Mary Kelly from San Juan Capistrano and her sister Sophie from West Virginia, Mary is a friend of Teresa, Vicky Kortlang’s sister-in-law, Mary and Sophie started the Camno on the same day but this is the first time we have met. Hugs all around and their instant friendship. Many people are cooking their dinner now in this large dining area. G from Brazil is there cooking pasta and shrimp. Mary seems to know everyone. I leave to find a little tienda and come back with my dinner and some food for tomorrow. I eat and take a shower when no one is around. I am cold, I just want to hike in my sleeping bag. I can always count on it to keep me warm.
It has been a wonderful day of blessings – good weather, found new friends, meeting new friends, help back on the path from whistling pilgrims, no falling, joy in walking alone, fun walking with others. I feel blessed and serene as I collapse in bed.