Yay -we did it again. Up and out the door before sunrise – all three of us (or tree if your Irish).
My beloved was unaware that we were on a time frame and had a secret rendezvous on the bridge at 5.45am. As many of the good albergues do, we found cereal bread and coffee and tea left out for us down in the kitchen so we indulged in a bite to eat and headed off on our merry way. We had had a double room again to try and limit the flu spreading through the pilgrim community. It wasn’t much more than a single each and included breakfast at Albergue puente (36 euro). We still had to share the bathroom but that was okay.
My knee had been a little swollen from the walk down the Alto del Perron yesterday, so I taped it up with the rock tape I had brought from home. (This was after indulging in special foot and leg massage for 15 euro at the albergue.) My beloved was feeling slightly unwell but, as anyone who has encountered man flu will know, he convinced us he was suffering beyond compare. He downed a cold and flu tablet and led us down the cobbled streets unaware of the secret rendezvous planned on the bridge.
After we made the appointment, we discovered that the albergue the spy was lodged in was actually further up the hill than initially thought. So she was a minute or two late for the connection but that was fine as we took the opportunity to adjust our packs.
So the day started reasonably cool and my fever had dissipated although I still required tissues at hand. Luckily i was improving even given that I not reached for the antibiotics. Our Irish friends had discovered common friends they had grown up with and had a good old natter about being at the same places at the same times over the last decade or two! As spy and a yoga master! Who’d have guessed.
We headed out of town and, as you can imagine, started going up up up. I am convinced that someone changed the direction of the way some years ago because we are constantly directed up up up and down down down even though there seem to be many better options along the way.
Being early birds we spent a good part of the the first couple of hours alone, but as the day wore on we kept bumping into people we had met over the last few days including Olga from Russia who we first saw camping alone in between Orisson and Roncesvalles.
We had a couple of good laughs and slowly separated over the last few hours as we drew closer and closer to Estella.
Upon arriving in Estella we were so pleased to catch up with the Brazilian Diplomat from Sydney. We all checked in to the same albergue which, on the surface, seemed to be perfect. It was hot as hell again and the air conditioning was a welcome reprieve at Albergue Puente which had cool little bunks with curtains and individual power outlets. 20 euros with breakfast.
Unfortunately the lady running the show morphed into some kind of prison warden. Despite the comfortable surrounds she seemed ill equipped to provide a welcoming presence. The first indicator was when I was reprimanded for using the wrong teacup for my green tea. Even after she accepted that it was in the pilgrim cupboard she was clearly unhappy about my use of said cup.
When we asked nicely if she could leave a couple of slices of bread out so we could escape the heat and leave early again she told us that that was not possible and we would have to wait for her husband to hand us the bread. The peak of our frustration was a request for her to turn the air conditioner back on when we returned from our meal because it was still hot as hell and the windows were so large they imposed upon the room if swung back. Let’s just say for this lady everything was too much trouble so we’d probably recommend against staying here. We opened the windows anyway and I had a few mozzy bites over the night.
On the foot front all was well although there were a few mentions of blister from the husband but the Irish Yoga Master was powering through with no complaints. I’ll be honest and say that my feet were starting to seriously hurt those last 4kms into town so I was glad to stop when we did.
We walked around the town for the afternoon and stopped for a refreshment and luckily Olga our Russian friend popped in to say hello. She had sent her tent on and was now going to have a lighter load and stay in albergues.
For dinner we enjoyed a well prepared meal at Cafe Mundo as a final farewell to the Irish spy. It was essential she return home to contribute to the betterment of our world! We were all slightly devastated – even though she had dumped us like a ton of bricks for a handsome Spaniard back in Roncesvalles.
After dinner we had a quick photo session and sat waiting for a storm that never hit.
The Brazilian diplomat headed up to visit the brilliant church – probably another Templar remnant along the way.
In anticipation of an early departure and breakfast at the Irache wine fountain (remember the bread was too difficult for the hospitalario) We chipped in and bought some ham, cheese, chorizo, tomatoes and bread and kept it in our bags.
Even though the Irish spy was leaving us, the Brazilian diplomat was eager to participate in this new plan and we were all thrilled with the preparations. Off we went to sleep in our little caves.