Sleep was well deserved and we were up early (well kind of) for an 8am departure. We didnt quite make 8am and wandered out of town at around 8.40am heading up to alto del perdon where the wrought iron pilgrim parade lines up across the mountain.
This was a hard day. I know you probably think I am a whinger by now but my beloved also agreed. Neither of us could figure out how or why people said it gets easier after the first two days.
Heading out of town wasnt too bad admittedly. In fact after having a massage and a rest day I felt on top of the world! I was even keeping up with other pilgrims along the first few kilometres. We passed the University of Navarra and dropped in to the Pilgrims college for a visit to the banyo and for a stamp in our passports. Not sure if I mentioned before but you get a special pilgrims passport when you register at the pilgrims office in St Jean and you get a stamp everywhere you visit basically – hostels, bars, restaurants, museums – even the guy selling hot drinks from a caravan on the way to Roncenvalles had one. It is also your passport into the special pilgrims hostels where the bus travelling tourists are not supposed to stay.
Anyway it was a reasonably pleasant stroll through the country and the sun was out so I was no longer spotting worms and slugs and snails. I was actually feeling a bit emotional about life frankly because my feet didnt hurt and I was thinking of friends who had left too soon and feeling so privileged to actually be alive. (Until we started going up again to Alto del Perdon that is! )
Once the pain kicked in the brain stopped thinking. Might be something in that I think. Physical activity to the point of extreme pain – brain gets emptied – isnt that the whole point of meditation? Quieten the mind by focusing on the breath. I was quietening it by focussing on the pain! For a brief moment during the actual thinking part of the day I shared my thoughts of friends lost with my husband – “What brought this on?” he asked. I thought maybe he was still thinking about the worms and slugs and snails – but no – he was watching the multitude of jetstreams across the sky marvelling at the amount of flights that were going by. Interesting how we fill our time when we are just walking.
We had a brief stop at a town just before the lookout and hit 14 kilometres on the way up. It was actually getting hot and I felt my left arm getting sunburned from the way I held the walking poles. I had to rest at the top as the feet were feeling quite a bit worse for wear (again). As usual the down side inflicted the most pain. Husband had this burning desire get on to Puente La Reina ( I think it means Queens bridge) however I was keen to stop at the next available bed!
As we entered the ghost town of Urterga we were able fill our water however I was hoping for divine intervention at this point as my beloved (eager Eddy!) was again urging me on for another 6 kilometres. We turned a corner in the town and there was Janice the Canadian looking very refreshed and relaxing in what looked to be a very inviting beer garden in the front of an albergue. Quite a few others who had passed us on the day were also lulling about. Husband loves a nice beer garden! That was it – we were sold – I was so relieved! He yelled to Janice “Dont mind if we join you do you?” Another nice lady (Patricia) yelled back “If she doesnt want you we’ll have you!” I laughed and said “You can have him!” We claimed out bunks (for 10 euro) showered and headed down to the “beer” garden to relax. I sipped on a lemon Fanta with Ice and nabbed one of the sun lounges in the shade – feet elevated, earphones in, Neil Diamond blasted Sweet Caroline as I nodded off. Husband sat under an umbrella and played with facebook on his phone (and sipped on a beer of course).
Before dinner I also pinched the laundry bucket and soaked my feet in ice cold water just as the massage therapist had ordered. It was a pleasant night with good company – love those Canadians – ( I think I got addicted to them in Patagonia) and the French lady was good company too, there was a guy from Belgium, a couple of Germans on our table for dinner and a few Americans around were good company also. My earplugs and eye cover came in handy in the dorm of 20 or so people – especially with the exit light shining straight onto my bed. Buenos Noches!
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