From Pamplona

May 09 - Pamplona - Day 3

Roncesvalles - Zubiri - Pamplona

52 km

View map of the Camino

Wednesday evening May 7, I took the bus up to where I was beginning my version of the Camino de Santiago in Roncesvalles (43 kilometers and up several hundred meters). The refugio (the official hotel for pilgrims) is a converted church building with high ceiling and 64 bunk beds in the one huge room--men and women together in the same room. Lights out at 10:15pm and back on at 6:30 am. We had to be out by 8:00 am. I had a top bunk--not fun. Slept well, though getting out of the top bed was and continued to be a challenge most of the walk.

The sleeping accommodations in Roncesvalles.
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The first day introduced me to Mud! Mud like you have never seen it. It is the one thing I had not prepared for, nor even thought of. It had rained a lot in the previous several days. The paths were a quagmire in many places. I fell once, in the first field of mud I encountered. From there the mud never took me down again. The walk was difficult and forced me to closely watch where I was walking. I didn't look at a much of the surrounding sites that first day. The lesson of the day is just that, some days you can only look right in front of you to make it--you have to leave the long site seeing for another day.

All the books had told me I needed a stick to fend off dogs. I needed a stick as a third leg and third arm to keep me from slipping and sliding in the mud and loose rocks. All Spanish dogs either ran away with their tails between their legs or were very friendly. I never needed a stick to drive any dog away.

A field of cows and fog below Roncesvalles.
Cow and sheep bells rang from far hillsides all day.

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This inquisitive bull interrupted our sleep in a field the second time we walked through here a year later.

The day ended at the refugio of Zubiri after 22 kilometers (13.6 miles). I was very dirty and tired. This refugio cost 3 Euros, $3.45. The rain held off till got in at 2:45 and then it poured most of the rest of the night. Four of us pilgrims went to a restaurant for dinner--I had paella, lamb stew, ice cream, and wine. It appears from this vantage point that we pilgrims are not going to really get to know the Spanish community much, except for the few who run the refugios. [We did and didn't meet many locals--We met a lot of support people in bars, hotels, stores, and refugios, though not a lot of others beyond the occasional encounter of a curious passerby or a customer in a bar.] As the walk progressed, we become very much a community of our own talking of what we have seen, what we are seeing, and how much we are hurting.

Today I walked 21 kilometers back to Pamplona. A lot less mud this time. All the walking so far has been in mountains with much up and down. I am hurting a lot more today than yesterday. But I was able to concentrate on more than my feet and the mud in the road most of the time. The refugio was full by the time I got to Pamplona, so I stayed in the same pension as when I first arrived a couple days previous.

Trees north of Pamplona.
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Medieval bridge in Pamplona park.
Many such bridges are scattered along the Camino.

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Tomorrow brings 23 kilometers. I hope the aches are out of my calves before I leave in the morning. But I found this morning that after a few hundred yards, they loosen up.

So there I am. A step at a time, I am moving towards Santiago de Compostela. 43 kilometers of steps are behind me now. What's that make, some 700+ left...? [Did that ever seem so far away that day!]

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