For the first time I sensed pilgrims were not eager to jump out of their sleeping bags to gear up this morning, and so most slept on until 6:30 am when the lights flickered on. Time to don the vast array of raingear which makes the pilgrim´s rucksack so heavy: rain pants, Altus ponchos, goretex jackets and gaiters. I have only a cheap poncho and some plastic bags which I slip over my inner socks and fold over my boots. Hey, they worked as well as gaiters! My best piece of equipment for maneuvering through morning mists and squalls was a trekking umbrella which was my stalwart shield against some high winds in the morning passes.
We finally arrived at the first village with a food market in over 26 kilometers of schlepping. I loaded up on cheese, apples, sausage and a huge baguette for lunch. Stuart made a noise about the extra weight and I agreed to carry it all with the understanding that as soon as he nibbled on the chorizo, he´d have to tote it.
Five nagging cats shared our lunch with us outside a cafe in a hamlet. Stuart decided we had to pay the "cat tax" in Spain.
The forests are filled with moss covered beeches and boxwoods and we nibble on the remainders of blackberries which escaped the ravishing hoards of passing pilgrims who feasted on them all summer.
All in all, we traveled another 20 km today and staggered into Zubiri and collapsed in a lovely albergue; a heavenly oasis for a few precious hours. I ache all over, especially my right shoulder which I wrenched yesterday in a tumble on some scree, but I know how restorative a good night´s rest can be. Everyone who knows me knows I am a night owl--not anymore. I am up and dressed by 6 am, booted up and fueled by cafe con leche before dawn and ready to walk on...
Dinners in the albergue are communal affairs with plenty of vino tinto to stimulate conversation. I was at the French table this evening and tried my best to keep up with the gist of the conversation, but found myself mentally flagging when dinner dragged on way past the hour mark. The French folk kindly tried to engage me with my rusty French, and they were so patient when I stopped to grope for a word;it was a good to make the effort to share their language. I was definitely sitting outside my comfort zone tonight!
Tomorrow we will walk through Pamplona, where we departed four days ago by bus, and I hope to make it to Cizur Menor a few km beyond the city.
So far the nationalities I have encountered on the Camino are French, German, Spanish, British, Australian, Canadian, South Africa, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Swedish, Belgian, Dutch....and Americans are well represented! "The Yanks have arrived!" said one Englishman as he passed me on the Way.
Tomorrow we will walk through Pamplona through to Cizur Menor a few km beyond the city.
I hope to upload some photos soon.