Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Spanish people and pilgrims from all corners of the earth are extremely freindly. Many walkers are afflicted with blisters, not always very nice to see, even if I am a nurse. I have been spared so far. There is a very strong fraternity among the pilgrims, even if we don't always understand the languages. It much more of a spiritual trek than religious, so far anyway. Buen Camino!
Day 7- June 5- 30,7 km - Logronos - Najera - 30,7 km , Sunny T- 3o+ C
Monday, June 1, 2009
Just upon arriving to the city of Logronos, there was a large field of red poppies, popping up everywhere in a cereal field. The city is a urban hub of the region.
June 1 - Day 5- Cirauqui - Los Arcos - 36,5 km- Sunny - 25-30 C, Passed by the Irache Fuente de Vino , where pilgrim have a choice of water or red wine at a drinking fountain. Here we are in wine country, vineyards as far as the eye can see. The fountain is courtesy of a local winemaker where you have the option to also purchase some if you want. But everything counts in a backpack, so for this time I will have to pass. I then have a great view of another charming village above another long inclined road, Villamayor de Monjardin. Then a 2h45 minute walk through winding roads, cereal fields to Los Arcos. The sun was in full force after midday. The few trees that provided shade often had a pilgrim taking a break or a nap while I kept moving on. It is as this point the I realize that it is important to get out early in the morning to take advantage of the cool morning air. That afternoon, I got the last available bed at the Albergue (Hostel), as I was one who also had walked the furthest. I was on the road a 6:00 am and arrived at my destination at 2:40 pm.
Sunny - 30 C, light breeze
May 31 - Day 4- Cizor Menor - Cirauqui - 27,4 km
For Raymond & Marguerite
Sunny - 32 C shade / 40 C Sun
For Suzanne & Claude
Woke up at 6:00 am. From this point on, I would always prepare my own breakfast with only a few exception. Usually a piece of baguette bread with some peanut butter or jelly, a piece of fresh fruit, a yogurt when a fridge was available and a glass of water. Just enough to get me started. I was on the road by 6:50 am. Nice and cool at first, some wooden trails that are still partially muddy from a moderate amount the rain received the week prior. There's no precipitation in the long range forecast at this time.
There are beautiful little cascading falls as we cross the River Ulzama, a branch of the Rio Arga in Trinidad de Arre. I have been walking part of the morning with a German man who started his trek back from Köln (Cologne), when there was still some snow on the ground. I had seen him a few times in the previous days. He mentioned that people along the Camino route have gone out of their ways to accommodate him. In some villages, there have a list of people who will take in pilgrims for a night. Often asking where is would be sleeping the following night and make arrangements prior to his departure the next morning. He carried an umbrella with him, the only pilgrim that I would see along my Camino boasting one. We stopped at a café after crossing the falls for a mid-morning snack. When he saw what they were serving, his face instantly light up and he exclaimed ''This is what I have been dreaming of since I left Köln, a hot bacon & egg sandwich''. I ordered one, while he ordered two....and they were delicious. He was right, as it was the only time that I would also get to eat one. He would stop in Pamplona and was planning to stay there for two days to visit the city.
I truly considered and reconsidered everything I had packed in my backpack before crossing the Atlantic. My wife had lent me her Mountain Equipement CO-OP backpack that she had purchased for here own Camino. It was very sturdy, and very user friendly with a side zipper for easy access. The problem with it was that it was a bit heavy, 5½ lbs empty, and there was not large enough. I had only pack the bare minimum, but I quickly realized that I should have packed even less, because I did not have enough space for food. I could have shipped some stuff by mail to Santiago de Compostela, but opted to send it back home instead to Canada. My father-in-law had send me a good luck card and a $50 bill before I left.....so there you go. I decided to put it to good use as it cost me 36,39 euros. I send a foldable carry-on used on the plane, anything long sleeve, a pair of short and one t-shirt. I gained much needed space and my trapezoid muscles thanked me for it. Afterwards, I would often detached the buckle the held the two shoulder strap together and slightly push them outwards to give these sore muscles a break. You learn a lot as times goes by.
I found the Spanish people to be extremely accommodating. I stopped at a produce market to ask directions for the Post Office (Correos). I wanted to ask the clerk, but as there was two line-ups of clients waiting, I asked a young man who was pushing a baby stroller. As he started to point out with directions, three older ladies in the other row all jumped in to help. After leaving the Post Office, I was heading in the wrong direction when a young man on the third floor of an apartment building yelled out to me, ''CAMINO SI''.....Si, Camino, I replied. Then he pointed with finger towards the street I should take.....''muchas gracias'' I bellowed. In Pamplona, at one point, I lost track of the yellow arrows and asked direction to a senior. He pointed the direction towards an intersection. I turned around and walked a few paces. As I turned my head again, he was following me to make sure I took the correct street. Moments like these are but examples of the hospitality of the Spaniards. You do feel as if they are honored that you have come all this way to walk on their land, on this sacred road that has part of their history for the past Millenium.
I found Pamplona to be exceptionnal beautiful. I entered through the fortified entrance of Old Pamplona.
It is here where the running of the bulls takes place at the time of Sanfermines (July 6-14). It was Ernest Hemingway's book, The Sun Also Rises (1926), that brought this event to the public's attention a Global scale.
I bumped into François (59) from Paris while buying a few groceries. Then walked a while with him across the University park and we ate lunch under the shape of trees. It was super hot that afternoon wtih the mercury pushing 40 C in full sun. We arrived at Cizor Menor at 13h40 and decided to call it a day. Staying at Albergue of the Order of the Knights of Malta next to Iglesia de San Miguel. A 12th century small fortress-like Romanesque church built by the Order of St John.
I later ran into France & François at the corner store down the street from the Albergue. They arrived to Cizor Menor before me and are staying at the beautiful Albergue Maribel Roncal, that boost a full kitchen and they graciously asked me to have supper with them with France preparing a beautiful meal.
Danielle and her son were also staying at the same Hostel as I. Later that evening a young Knight of the Order of Matla came to our Albergue to take care the blisters under her feet. She had hardly slept the previous night as her feet were sore. The epiderma was completely missing in some areas where she had blisters. He desinfected the area with a Betadine solution and applied dressings to her feet. He recommended that she take a day off, in order to recuperate and speed up healing. The next morning was the last time I got to talk to them.