I haven’t been able to update much as I’ve only got my iPhone, and Internet kiosks are few and far between. My nature is to do everything chronologically, but technical and temporal limitations are forcing me to do otherwise!
Thanks for all your “likes” and comments, by the way, they keep me going! It’s nice to know my family (Hi mom, Nancy, Aunt K and Aunt Y!) and possibly some friends are out there reading!
A Tiny bit of background: I started walking on the Camino Baztan, a little-known branch of the Camino, which goes from Bayonne in France, over a shorter part of the Pyrenees and on into Spain, where it meets the popular Camino Frances at a town called Arres.
Today was my 3rd day walking on the Camino Frances. The terrain and ambiance is totally different from the Baztan: the Baztan is mountainous and solitary (at least two nights I was the only person on my stage of the trail!), the Frances on this stretch is beige, dark green and dry, with a hundred or more pilgrims passing by each town along the way a day.
The Albergue (pilgrim hostel) was totally full last night. I got the very last bed! One hundred people! Our dorm room of 16 bunk beds was pretty hilarious. I was one of the youngest ones there, even if we don’t take into account the fact that I’ve been shaving a good 6 years off my age whenever people ask! The Spanish woman next to me was having a seriously tough time getting into her top bunk, with lots of hand-holding, pulling and pushing.
When I finally got into mine a little while later, just kind of vaulting up there, her friend gave me a small applause and said in Spanish, “Now that’s how it’s done!” Then the entire dorm proceeded to burst into those clandestine, catching giggles for a good 10 minutes before we all settled down. Pretty hilarious!
Today started off a little bit inauspiciously with a drizzly rain, and I put off setting out by loitering in the kitchen. I made the acquaintance of the Argentinian dude who kept me up half the night moving around in his lower bunk, and a few other people, who complemented me on my Spanish and actually didn’t criticize me eating tinned mussels for breakfast. Ur encouraged it! (“I can’t get these in the US!” “Then enjoy them while you’re here! Good protein for walking.”)
Eventually, we had to set out in the rain, which was less than ideal. I started off on my own, with rain paints, sweatshirt and rain jacket. Going uphill I quickly overheated, so stopped at an overhang by someone’s garage to rearrange myself. A pilgrim on a bike approached, and we began to chat.
The Argentinian and his friends then passed us, and he remarked (again) that I needed a cover for my backpack or everything would get wet. He said I could head back into town for a poncho for €2.
I wasn’t about to head down again, but the bicyclist– whose name is Rodri– offered to do it for me. He wouldn’t even take money! How cool!
I waited for him, reading some free literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to pass the time. When he returned, it had practically stopped raining! We chatted for another long while, when I asked if he wanted to walk with me. We walked — with him pushing his bike! — for a good 2 hours, chatting in Spanish, till we reached a village where I got a coffee and he went zipping along on his way.
We got contact info to keep in touch, practice English/Spanish, etc, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet again. But it was a lovely way to pass a drizzly morning. And such are the friendships of the Camino!
(Dina and Rodri at the Wine Fountain– free wine for pilgrims! Yes, it flows like water! And it’s actually not bad!)