Day 3: Larrasoaña to Cizur Menor (via Pamplona)
Walking with simplicity, meant that one’s mind was clear, open and receptive. – Judy Foxx
After splurging on a room for myself and sleeping 8 1/2 hours, I feel like a NEW women! My aches have settled and my energy is now restored. My private room also includes a fantastic breakfast that nourishes me for another long day of walking. Lesson (Camino Lodging): I think I am going to splurge on a private room a couple times a week. I could probably find a friend to share the room and split the cost. I am so grateful for the quietness and extra sleep!
The only other pilgrim staying at my place is Jeroen from the Netherlands. He was with us at dinner last night and the pilgrim who helped Katie with her blisters yesterday. He and I continue our conversations at breakfast. Jeroen is an independent consultant, similar to myself, but in HR and business reorganization. We say our goodbyes, finish our packing and go on our separate ways.
I then meet Marilee from Colorado, and Katie from Korea, at the town’s bridge. To my great surprise, Kwon from Korea decided to join us as well. We walk onward, crossing the rio Arga (Arga river) by bridge several times, and meander through many adorable and tiny villages nestled along the river’s shores. Eventually our bodies need a break and snack, so we stop on the bridge entrance to Villava to rest. TIP (Camino Etiquette): On the Camino everything is shared. I haven’t been shy and always offer snacks to others. I have found they willing share their snacks and supplies with me as well. It’s been a great way to meet other pilgrims and begin friendships.
By sharing our snacks on the bridge, we end up meeting a gentleman from Ireland, Russ, now retired in Portsmouth, UK. Because of his cheeky personality, I have to give him a nickname. So going forward Russ, will be known as our “Lucky Leprechaun.” 🙂 He walks with us the rest of the day and plans to join us for dinner.
As we approach Pamplona, I actually begin to feel a bit anxious. We were told, after days in nature and enjoying peaceful farming villages, the city might overwhelm us. I sense my body tensing up from the rush of modern life. The site of industrial warehouses, the rush of speeding cars, and the roar of semi trucks began to throw me off balance. I feel out of my element and already am yearning for the quiet, peaceful paths of the countryside again. At this moment, I realize how much I enjoy… simplicity and tranquility. After the Camino, I must remember to escape the chaos of daily life by walking in nature each and every day. TIP (Camino Electronics): Before leaving for the Camino, I filled my iPhone with all my favorite music, including the soundtrack for the movie, “The Way.” Walking into my first city is a perfect time to put on my headphones and drown out the noise.
We continue, step by step, into Pamplona, soon discovering its historic grace and beauty. As we meander through the archway into the old city encased by an ancient wall, we stop and take pictures like crazy tourists. We pass the cathedral, enjoy the plazas, and of course walk through the streets that famously host the ‘Running of the Bulls‘ festival in July.
Eventually we discover the Plaza Sanfrancisco, where we rest on benches like the homeless, and happily people watch. I notice the great influence Ernest Hemingway has on Pamplona; so many of the restaurants & hotels are named after him. I had no idea! I then remember the time I stayed in a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, where Ernest frequented during his great African adventures. It’s such an honor to follow some of his footsteps around the world.
Pleased that I still have no blisters, except my left little toes are strained, so I wrap them with tape and trudge onward. We continue westward, meandering through town, envisioning the crowds of people dressed in white accented with red scarves, running for their lives from the bulls. We are excited to be heading to our home for the night in Cizur Menor… thrilled to be heading OUT OF TOWN! As we reach the edge of the city and the traffic subsided, I am relieved to be returning to the peacefulness of the countryside.
In Cizur Menor, we find our alburgue behind an old church and are joyfully greeted by our hospitalaro (host) who reminds me of a hippie from the 70’s. I giggle like a teenager as she introduces us to “her” alburgue, and runs through a list of her “house rules.”
We settle in, shower and catch up on the Internet using the wifi in the main building. I have finally gotten the hang of my backpack and have figured out better ways to pack, resulting in less strain on my back and shoulders. Now understanding that every ounce counts, I am learning about simplicity and how little I really need to survive. I have begun to throw away a few items of luxury, like my Moroccan oil for my hair and deodorant. I smell at the end of the day anyway, so who cares! I even toss my night clothes, for here everything goes, and sleeping in underwear is accepted. We are becoming a family of brothers and sisters here on the Camino, and I have begun to shed the American modesty.
Although I have no blisters, I stock up on Compeed at a local pharmacy. Compeed is a brilliant “second skin” for deterring the development of blisters. Lesson (Camino Supplies): I learned there is no need to bring loads of bandaids from home. Compeed is the product used by most Europeans for blisters. If I begin to feel a “hot spot” on my feet, I should immediately apply the Compeed like I would a bandaid. Also, Compeed is made to stay on, even in the shower, so unless it needs replacing, I won’t touch it. I can purchase Compeed at any pharmacy, which are located in most villages. Pharmacies are easy to identify by the lighted green plus sign. There are various shapes and sizes of Compeed for the feet and hands, so I check out the images on the box for guidance. I also purchase a box of sleeping pills. Spain is known for their great sleeping aids that don’t give you a sleep-hangover the next morning.
Now getting in the groove of the Camino, at this point my journey is simply about moving forward and becoming comfortable with the physicalness, understanding the daily system, and making new friends. My days are predictable and simple:
- I get up early, wash my face and brush my teeth
- I dress and prepare my feet for the day’s walk
- Finish packing
- Head out of town by 7:45 am or 8:00 am (this is just before sunrise in October)
- After an hour or so of walking, and if I come across a village, stop at a coffee shop or bar for café con leche and croissant or tortilla
- Continue hiking and break about half way to rub my feet and enjoy a snack or lunch. Typically, I would eat what I might have purchased the night before stored in my pack, or purchase something at a local bar, like a bocadillo (sandwich)
- Continue walking and enjoy the scenery
- Eventually arrive at my final destination village/town and find a place to sleep. Alburgues cost around 10 euros a night, private rooms can be up to 40 euros
- Once assigned a bed, immediately get out of my clothes to shower, hand-wash my clothes in a sink and hang to dry. Some places have old washers & dryers (and detergent) for a small fee. Knowing my clothes are fully clean feels like heaven!
- Find a market to stock up on snacks and water for the next day and explore the town a bit
- Locate a place for dinner and register for the Peregrino meal (Pilgrims’ dinner) for the evening at a local restaurant
- Relax, since I have some time to journal and email until dinner at 7:00 pm
- Enjoy dinner and meet new pilgrims, share stories and drink wine (vino tinto)!
- After dinner, immediately pack and go to bed with clothes laid out for next day… usually the ones I wore at dinner
- Hope to God I get some sleep with all the snoring
…and the next day begins!
Tonight our hospitalaro has assigned women in a separate room from the men, so hopefully it will be quieter and we will get some sleep. Although I am not quite certain of this… some of these women can snore louder than the men! 🙂
Adios until tomorrow!