Now that I am walking the Camino de Santiago I am suddenly questioning my sanity! My path from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela is 789.1 km long. Not sure if the .1 will make that much a difference but that is what the guide book tells me!
Day 1 ~ St Jean to Roncesvalles – 25.1 km (adjusted for climb 32.0 km, highest point 1,450 m Col de Loepeder)
Every fibre of my body was screaming at me within a hour of starting to walk. I have over packed and in reality I am not going to be able to get rid of much as a lot of the weight is main electronics which I now know I don’t need (though blogging without the computer would be difficult).
As I walked up and up the weather slowly creeped in. Moments of feeling like death wash over me and I am questioning my own sanity on a frequent basis. Old, and I mean old people, stroll past me like I was standing still but onwards I trudged.
The mist came in as I neared the top of the mountain and then the rain. There is nothing worse than rain and trudging. My poncho on a good note seems to be working perfectly and everything is in waterproof bags but the freezing cold cannot be stopped from creeping its way to my bones.
Reaching Roncesvalles 8 hours after I started and I can’t wait to eat and sleep so I pay the 2€70 to have my clothes washed and dried (I question my giving away of my gaiters now that I see the mud on my pants!) After a hearty pilgrim meal of soup, bread, trout, fries and yogurt I am ready for sleep. Sleep however is lacking, my Israeli bunk mate is a snorer and my throat is starting to hurt.
Day 2 ~ Roncesvalles to Zubiri – 22.2 km
Despite the lack of sleep and my now constantly running nose I am excited to walk. I am walking with a young American girl from Florida but she will continue on further than me today. I am fast realising I am not walking at my pace but at others. Which is why I know that I have to listen to my body and it’s aches from yesterdays climb and my worsening health as it tells me to stop at Zubiri for the night.
Spain is like a step back in time. A sheep herder walks his sheep up the path and between the pilgrims today and a cat meows loudly at me asking for some of my food. These moments with animals are more powerful today than the interactions I am having with humans.
After walking 6 hours today and stopping at Zubiri it has enabled me to have a hearty lunch and then a sleep before tapas for dinner. I sleep much better but I feel much worse physically.
Day 3 ~ Zubiri to Pamplona – 21.2 km
Every step today feels like death and 6 hours again of walking has hurt. I shuffle like an old woman at times and very classily blow snot out of my nose every few steps. The weather is beautiful and the views are magnificent but I am strugglingly to appreciate the day.
I am walking with 2 Irish women (their third has caught the bus onto Pamplona) and an Estonian woman who lives in the same town as the Irish ladies but only realised it today. We also meet another Irish man that through 1 degree of separation is known to the Irish ladies. I am also laughing at them because I can hear my darling friend Stella in everything they say – like ‘your man’ when referring to some male they have been talking too.
Today the spirit of the Way hugs me. At our morning break a lovely woman gives me some drugs for my flu and I meet other Australians who too are struggling with illness. Again an animal lights up my day. A white dog bounces around me and nips at my pack before racing around an abandoned car to bring me a banana peel as either a gift or hint at what he wants from me. I have only nuts so don’t offer him any of those.
Arriving in Pamplona I part from the group and within minutes realise I am sad that I am stopping and not continuing on with them. After checking into my hostel (after asking a police officer for directions and an elderly couple pointing the way for me) I shower and rest before venturing out into the Plaza Del Castillo.
It is in the Plaza that I run into my fellow pilgrims and have the pleasure of their company for a few more hours. This has warmed my heart again and we promise to catch up at their rest stop.
Day 4 ~ Pamplona – Rest Day
After 10 hours sleep I am still feeling sick and because it is Sunday the framacia (chemist) and just about everything else in Spain is closed. Luckily the Cathedral of Pamplona is open and provides a warm place to sit and reflect on the past few days and my reasons for taking the Camino as well as quitting my job and wanting to travel for 12 months. As I sit in the chapel of Jesus Christ I notice I am crying and that I am looking forward to commencing the walk tomorrow.
Food is always a big thing for me. I love to eat and need to eat or I get cranky. I ventured into a restaurant and the woman apologies for the fact they only have a Spanish language menu. I understand pollo is chicken and jamón is ham so I risk the entree and order the Menestra de verdurans con jamón which turns out to be a delicious green vegetable soup with a piece of fried ham on top. My main is pollo asadó al horno; which is basically roast chicken with garlic and lemon with fries. Both are delicious and satisfy my need for food.
Tomorrow I plan to walk to Puente La Reina which is 24 km so with the weather being freezing and the shops all being closed I retire to the warmth of my hostel to read, write and relax some more. All while still coughing and dealing with my non stop runny nose! I do feel very sorry for my rather charming and cute Belgium room mate having to suffer a sick roomie!