Day 4 – Pamploma to Uterga

I had heard that the walk from Pamploma to Puerta de la Reina would be difficult, especially in bad weather, so I was worried. The hike wasn’t too bad in the beginning, though, and when I asked a shopkeeper if she thought I should continue to the other side of the mountain or call it a day there (it was about 11a.m.), she said I should continue. 

I am glad that I did. I hadn’t realized that at the top of this mountain stood the famous bronze statue of the peregrinos making their windy way along the Camino. I had not recognized the long line of wind turbines along the ridge.

 About 500 meters from the top, I caught a glimpse of the bronzes and realized where I was. This was one of the first true landmarks along the Camino that is well known and recognized, and I felt happy and energized.

At the top, the first person who greeted me was a vendor who was selling drinks and food. Usually I would have bought something but I had just had a drink from the village below. 

There were some “touregrinos” there also taking pictures of each other at the top.

What is a “touregrino”?

This is the name given to people who do the Camino the easy way. They usually send their suitcases  (yes, some have the wheeled kind) ahead with a tour company to the hotel or albergue they have reserved ahead of them. They travel with day packs. My friend from the train from Paris to St. Jean, Antoine, told me of the saying, “The smaller the pack, the larger the shell.”

The scallop shell is the traditional symbol of the pilgrim and many people buy one and put it on their packs at the start of their trip. The saying Antoine shared about the size of the pack means that people who travel the easy way, not carrying their full packs, moving uphill with lively steps, clearly in good health, seem to buy the biggest, gaudiest shells to put on their tiny day packs. 

Typical tourist style.

No one on the Camino resents the use of transports for those who are old, infirm, injured, etc.  but if you are fit, well, you must understand if you don’t get a cheerful “Buen Camino” from someone wearily lugging their 2-4-6 weeks worth of worldy goods steeply uphill, someone who knows that no comfortable bus waits to take them along smooth roads to the next hotel and a good meal.

And the touregrinos travel in groups. Tour groups.

However, this group was so happy about making it to the top that I couldn’t help but feel happy for them. I took their pictures for them, they did the same for me, and then they were off, gliding down to the foothills.

I stopped at the first albergue I found, a nice one with an outdoor patio, although it was too cold for being outside, and free wifi.

I Skyped my DD and checked my email.

Juan Carlos showed up and I was surprised, since he had left Pamploma quite a bit before me. He was limping a little because he had gotten tendonitis. He declined an offer to stay at that albergue because he had given his sleeping bag to someone else to carry and he had to go on to the next town so he could sleep.

Kerstin and Honey, two of the German women i had been traveling with, showed up and stayed. They ate the Pilgrim meal and said it was great. But, at 12 euros, I felt uncomfortable spending that much money and had not reserved a spot. I felt badly afterwords because 1) they had waited for me at dinner and 2) they said it was really good, with lots of wine. 

I had a good sleep on a bottom bunk.