Long wonderful walk today. There was an incredible burnt orange sliver of a moon last night – and stars! A good sign for clearer weather today. I left Roncevalles just as the sun was brightening the sky. (A little after 7 as they are 2 hours off the sun.) Stunning views of surrounding farms and foothills. Café con leche (I loved that the coffee is served in such small cups-can’t be more than 4 oz – just right) with remains of yesterday’s ham sandwich from Orisson in the charming town of Burguete for breakfast. It, like most towns we walked through today can’t have more than 20 houses.
Flat, then up and over some hills. Beech, oak and pine forests. Some wonderful smells. Some fruit that looked like mini Italian prunes. Long stretches of thick, slippery mud. Much of the day pleasantly alone. Able to just relish walking and loving being here. This was occasionally intermixed with interesting conversations as I fell in and out of step with people while passing – Guylène from Haute-Savoie, who started from her house, and so far has done a total 1000k in one week segments over several years. Karol, a young Pole, not sure what he is doing with himself. Anya from Sweden recuperating from a busy summer and carrying a whopping 15 kilo pack. Maarten, a young man who works with children from Flemish Belgium. Repeated brief meetings with Michel.
Cool in the a.m. Hot in the afternoon. Started wearing rain pants, now wearing skirt. (Skirt, vest, long sleeve (UV 50+) shirt make me look even odder than normal!) Several times I stuck my head under a fountain to cool. After running out of water twice I am now refilling my hydration pack at every fountain.
This evening in the lovely tiny town of Larrasoaña. Though the 27k I did was pretty easy (except the mud) I was hot and my feet tired when I crossed the 14th c bridge into town. Showered, washed my very sweaty clothes then sat on the bridge, watching the river and pilgrims arriving, including a favorite, Carl from Orisson, who recommended this town. Luisa from Brazil, another always welcome face. And Beate, who had also met Karol from Poland. Happy to see the young Dutch archeologist, Renske, as she is only going to Pamplona & I probably won’t see her after tomorrow. Lots of Spanish spoken on the trail today, and a larger contingent of younger walkers. Most Spaniards start in Roncevalles, so the number of walkers expanded dramatically, and the language has shifted from predominately French and English to Spanish.
Almost missed dinner tonight. You need to make reservations at one of the two restaurants and pay in advance for the early pilgrim meal. After making reservations I found a bench in town, watched the few passing folks, did a little writing. Thinking it about 6:30 I checked time to find it was already 7:20 and dinner was at 7:00. Rushed to the restaurant. Luckily they were willing to seat me! The only seat remaining was at the table by the door with all Spanish speakers – speaking very fast Spanish. They were a little nervous when I couldn’t understand anything they said. However one young man Eduardo, from Colombia, speaks easily understandable English. His Spanish is also easier to pick out a word here or there, and he found ways to draw me in. It was still a bit awkward with the others. Then the man on my right, Jose, recognized me as the person who yesterday took a photo of him taking a photo; that broke the ice. Soon after Norberto recognized me as someone he had passed while crossing the Pyranees, and he took great pains to include me in the conversation (via Eduardo) and to ply me with wine. (It seems to be the standard that at least two bottles per table come with the meal.) Felt good to meet and start to become acquainted with some Spaniards. There are so many Spanish speakers there is no need for them to put themselves in the awkward position of trying to carry on a conversation with those of us who don’t speak their language. So glad to be late to dinner and thus be given this opportunity!
Pilgrim’s dinner: delicious white asperagus salad, pork & red peppers in tomato sauce, bread, wine, an orange. Which I ate but should have kept for tomorrow.
Eduardo also knew Max and Rita, 2 Italians who had been at a completely English speaking table (mine) last night where they’d been pretty quiet. They stopped at our table to chat and we all ended up strolling through town and Eduardo took a group photo.
Only 20 or so in this room tonight, but at least as many snorers! Met someone who has heard of Olympia . Federico from Loredo, said that he had studied architecture with two guys who went to Evergreen!
After noting the kilometrage along today’s walk I’m convinced that kilometres are longer in Europe than the US.
23 Sep 2009