29 May Pamplona to Puente la Reina
These were 4 of my 10 room-mates last night.image

They managed to skilfully wake everyone in the room at 5:30 with flashing lights, plastic bag rustling and loud whispering. At 6 o’clock the real wake up call happened when Gregorian chants and similar singing was played through a speaker system.

I was soon eating a breakfast of tea and toast with jam where I shared a table and chit-chat with Jan from Switzerland. He helped me to understand the Swiss Cantons and language structures.

At 7 o’clock, being as organised and self-maintained as I can be, I am amongst the first to leave the Casa Paderborn after my careful muscle stretching routine and head towards the city centre. I had gone about twenty metres when I heard loud shouting and looked back to a guy gesticulating at the bench where I had just completed my careful muscle stretching routine. I looked at the bench and saw that I had just as carefully left my precious water bottle behind.

Bottle retrieved I set about setting off again, mentally running the list of things I could remember packing this morning.

I have found my walking legs today. (I just looked down and there they were, hanging of my torso:-) ).

The city was only just rousing itself as I walked through narrow, tall sided streets where the early sun was casting a long shadow of myself in front of me that I could never catch up with.

I hadn’t gone very far when Dutch John and Dieuwke past me along with a number of the people I had just spent the night with. I steeled myself, gritted my teeth and upped my pace to catch-up with them. It wasn’t long before they shrunk in size and left me way behind.

A group of people on horse-back were moving through the streets ahead of me. It turns out to be a group of Pilgrims and two of them are the mother and daughter from New Zealand I first met back in StJPDP.

Leaving the city behind after about 50 minutes I make my way into the country-side and soon see in the distance my first destination of the day, the Alto del Perdon with it’s famous Pilgrim monument. There’s a line of giant windmills pointing the way to the monument.

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The climbing soon begins for the day and I start a fairly steep ascent from 400 to 800 metres over about 3 kilometres and reach the top to see one of the most photographed points on the Camino. These photos were taken to help maintain the tradition.
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The first 800 meters or so of the descent from the monument was very, very steep loose shale, stones, pebbles, cobbles and rock nightmare for my knees. This was easily the hardest physical part of my Camino so far. But, the reward was fantastic for about 40 minutes later I was walking along a path that twisted and turned through seemingly never-ending field after field of Barley, Oats, Wheat and Peas. Dotted along the path were hidden culverts where streams gurgled and whispered their encouragement to me, “keep going’ keep going” was what I heard.

After about 3hours into today’s walking I stopped for a boots of toe wriggle. I exchanged pleasantries with passing Pilgrims and ate the sweetest, juiciest tongue- teasing nectarine I have ever had. I am joined by Ses from New Zealand.
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Then Angus and Ann a mother and son combo from Australia stop by for shared toe wriggle. This photo is one I took of them later in the day.
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A few minutes later I leave them behind as I head out into path again. The crop fields, each with their very own shade of green look giant patches of green cloth laid out for acre after acre ready to be sown together into a quilt. The quilt weaver has decided to sew the patches together with ribbon after ribbon of gaily coloured wild flowers. The effect is truly a site to see over such a large area. The camera on this iPad does not do justice to the splendid grandeur of the overall, overwhelming visual effect.
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My senses were almost overdrawn and going into debt, there was so much to see and then I entered a long valley with the fields on my right adding a different set of patches to the quilt, whilst on my left the steep slopes were a rolling blanket of yellow and white Gorse bushes competing for attention with a carpet of smaller wild flowers.

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It was soon to be another toe wriggle stop for but Mother Nature wasn’t done with me just yet. The poppies in the fields began to thicken ever so gradually until it looked like a giant artist had taken a dislike to the quilt and had flicked the end of a giant paint brush dipped in red paint over the fields, then the wind, the master choreographer put everything into a unified ballet of breath-taking movement, it was truly wonderful.

After a toe wriggle stop I was now walking along a path with some tho same fields in miniature, but now they are lined far into the distance with Almond trees hung heavy with their fruits as yet not ripe enough to pick.

I meet up with Dutch John and we make our way to a sort of agreed meeting place to catch up with Diewuke and hopefully the rest of our small but growing family. On the way there we check the availability and price of a bed in a dorm at the first Albergue at the edge of Puente la Reina. It’s a very reasonable price of 12 euros with a meal available for another ten euro. Then we plod on another kilometre or so the meeting place where we came across Dieter and Martin from Speyer in Germany, they have been doing this Camino in stages since 2012 and this year they hope to finish it towards the end of July. Here they are…..
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Diewuke eventually turns up but is looking very refreshed, pack less and bootless. A large blister had been troubling her and she had decided to set up shop at the first Albergue John and I had checked out on the way in. After a quick discussion we quickly establish there are other people there we also know and in the spirit of support for Dieuweke we elect to go back with her and get two of the 12euro beds. When we get there, they are all gone. We are just about done in John and I fork out twenty euros each to share a two person room, we also buy a dinner ticket for 10 euros each. Mentally, I am aware during this day I have spent nearly two and half days of my budget for one night.

But, things get better very quickly when we see the remainder of our original faily come through the gates of the Albergue. It’s Alana and Ethan from Alberta and Maria from Columbia. I’m pleased to see them because they smile very easily and are nice people to be around. They have Mario from Toronto in tow with them. Mario is Italian and he was taken to Ontario by his mother when he was a baby and now lives in Toronto.
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Then I have a quick chat with Hester and Meve from The Hague.

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So, after great sunny and beauty filled day and 37863 steps this is my bed for the night.
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Bye for now folks.

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