Another rainy, cold day.
The route to Pamploma was along country roads through mountain passes. The little stream that we crossed on the final bridge to Zubiri has changed into a strong river because of the rain. There were several men fishing off bridges on this river, which is well stocked although they hadn’t caught anything yet.
People had written about being overwhelmed by the slow approach of city life as you get close to Pamploma. However, I found it invigorating. I liked walking through towns where people were standing outside, talking about the approaching day, the weather, sports. I liked seeing people bustling along to work, some focused on their travel, some happy to make eye contact and offer a morning “Buen Camino,” which is more appreciated than they can imagine.
The markers along the Camino vary from place to place. Often it is no more than a yellow arrow painted on a wall. But cities take more care and have tiles which appear on the sidewalk or on the walls of buildings, all inevitably pointing me on my way.
A man motions to me from across the street to go to him. He tells me the direction of the Camino, not wanting me to get lost. Although I am heading in the right direction, I am grateful for his concern and helpfulness. Perhaps he has seen his fair share of pelegrinos wandering aimlessly around his town and knows that it is better to keep people on track than to have to help them get back on track once lost.
Hmmm. Is that a life lesson?
The approach to Pamploma goes around huge stone walls formerly protecting the castle. Some women with strollers and who are playing with their dogs assure me that the way to the albergue I want is easy. I laugh, telling them that I need something easy today.
The albergue, Jesus & Maria, is wonderful. Run by Jesuits, it is modern with all the facilities one could ask for. I am assigned a bottom bunk. This place is especially good because they allow you to wash the mud off your boots. Fancy me, washing my clothes and my boots by hand in the sink!
My system for arriving at the albergue is developing into this:
Unpack sleeping bag and take out bag with all I will need for the night
Take shower and change into the clothes which I keep clean for hanging around the albergues and city
Find laundry and wash clothes
Write (usually no wifi) or walk around
Skype if there is wifi
Go to Mass if available
Go to sleep
While I shower, a pilgrim who brought his guitar plays music in the courtyard outside of the albergue and I can easily hear his singing. It is nice and puts me in a good mood, almost making me forget that I have to do something about the blisters which have magically blown up on my feet.
My friends from the first day are a few beds down from me. Shawn, a businessman who lives in London, takes several of us out to dinner because he and his wife, Iris, will end their journey in Pamploma. But their daughter, Somin, will continue onto Santiago so tonight is their farewell dinner. We celebrate with several more coming along and have a wonderful time.
On the way back from dinner, I split off from their family to give them time to say farewell. I walk with Juan Carlos and Evelyn, who hop into a tiny bar with a guitar player, a microphone, and a crowd packed into the tiny space. I know this could lead to a long night so I excuse myself after about 20 minutes and go back to the albergue. I need to see if my clothes are dry yet.
They are not.
We settle in for the night but there is a ruckus down the row of beds. Shawn, our gracious host for the evening’s dinner, has stumbled out of the top bunk and hit his head. The hospitaleros of the albergues decide on caution and an ambulance comes. I feel very badly for his wife and daughter – I know this is not how they planned to spend their last night together.
The next day, my clothes are still not dry so I spend one euro to get 40 minutes in the dryer while I pack and prep for the day. I ask Iris how Shawn is doing. She says he is alright but spent the night in the hospital. I am glad he will be o.k.
By the way, don’t let the sunlight fool you. It is wet and cold. I take photos during those few moments of sun. The mountain pass which was closed to me the first day had snow today.