breakfast was served (toast, butter, jam, coffee, muffins …).
Camino is back across the bridge, than to the right. I am again shocked by the fact I can walk … and it looks like I’m managing a slightly brisker pace than yesterday (not to mention the day before yesterday). Near a small bridge a guy comes out taking two dogs for a walk. The smaller one is feisty … I guess he is also not a morning type.
The path winds near some factory for a bit until it hits pastures forest and the whole idyllic scenery. Canadian girls, neighbours from yesterday, pass me by .
In a small village, which is still sleeping, I refilled my water. I am a 0.5 kg lighter today because I ditched the 1 l bottle for a smaller one, that requires more frequent refills. Few cyclist pilgrims pass by as well as Spanish people on a Sunday stroll. After a short uphill climb there is a another small village, with 4 Brazilians resting near the fountain. They are Luciano, Joao, Claudia ad a fellow with traditional Brazilian name … Vladimir. We chatted a while, Lucian and I quickly agreed on the best score for initial World Cup game, Brazil vs. Croatia, 1:1 (unfortunately it turned out Japanese referee messed with our plans). Vladimir (authentic Brazilian … honest) manages to catch a quick nap.
Its time for a break and airing of the feet. The Brazilians move on and in comes a lady from New York (originally Colombian) Luz Stella … she struck me a very strong personality, kind of no-nonsense, doesn’t suffer fools gladly type. We chatted a bit on modern media’s focus on negativity, for example, not many know that Columbia has the best coffee and emeralds in the world.
Rested and fed I continue onward. Next up .. a forest … not a soul in sight … when suddenly a Road Runner appears next to me … Pius from Switzerland. Its almost unbelievable how quickly this guy walks … he eats miles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (than again it could be that I am waaaay to slow). I managed to keep up for most of the next 3 minutes, until he leaves me behind in his dust. Wanted to take his picture, but by the time I took out my phone he was far gone.
I encounter more Spaniards on a Sunday stroll. The path winds near the river and in a few (5-10) km it reaches a bridge and a bar. I see Pius waving and the Brazilians are there as well, so I stop for just a bit before moving on, since I recently took a break.
The path hits the main road and a column of cars parked by the side of the road … what are the waiting on … I see no construction in progress, road look open. The answer came in a sudden rush of cyclists behind me, after a couple of minutes same thing happened only now with a horde of bikers.
As I’m walking on the road I’m thinking …. couldn’t these Spanish build a path near the road, instead of forcing pilgrims to walk for a couple km on the main road … When I reached the left turn I noticed the said path was about 5m to my left … for the whole time … ups.. (It won’t be the first time I keep my eyes focused to the front). The path goes by a well set camping area. The sight of families enjoying their Sunday afternoon barbecue would be nice if it weren’t for one thing… the smell of barbecue … and by now my snack feels a bit distant in the past.
I managed to get across this section somehow, reaching a small village with an albergue. Its feels early to stop so I push on to a promenade by the river.
Now so far I’ve been overtaken by women, children, grannies etc. but this was the first time a six-month old baby overtook me … of course … he/she was in the carriage so I say it doesn’t count. (I may have mentioned I’m walking slowly).
Prius caught up with me after his break … he seems ever faster now. Asks how I’m doing so I reply with “always slowly” (my new slogan). He says … “well its only 2-3 hours to Pamplona” … for him I’m sure its even less, for me who knows if double that will be enough.
After the promenade I came across a small house with a toilette near another picnic area. The wind is blowing in the opposite direction so I stopped here for a while. Two other pilgrims are continuing after their rest, mother and daughter from Alaska. They started from SJPDP a day before me … just when I thought I was the slowest peregrino yet. This weather is great for them, back home when it was 5°C they got a day off from work, and when the visit relatives in Florida they go for a swim … at the time when the locals are wearing sweaters.
Since the nearby Spanish family is starting lunch, I decide its time to move on. Uphill climb steep but fortunately a short one. After the path looks level … yes. Then, behind the next corner … SURPRISE!!! … another uphill climb … this time with steps … uff.
The path winds though another forest grove …then a large farm with stone terrace. Anyway birds are singing … sun is shining … and when you leave the shade of the trees a slight breeze appears … right on cue.
Brazilians are slowly catching up with me, Vladimir is carrying is carrying a hiking stick on his shoulders … reminds me of a painting of Jesus with a cross. A few km later we come across yet another entrepreneurial Spaniard with a wooden crate of fruit and soda cans. A banana is 0,70€, tangerine 0,50€ … got myself a banana. The guy mentions the forecast promises sunshine for the next 3 days.
I move on … forest … road … uphill again … forest again … and a town in the distance.
On the Camino one quickly loses the feeling of distance … one just follows the yellow arrows marking the Way. You can only think on one thing … the next step … and rest … and hunger … and thirst. But besides these one … two …OK, four things … its really hard to think about the past or the future. I slowly begin to figure out what Kenny Rogers sung about …. you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing is done … So although I am equipped with electronic and print guides and GPS navigation I rarely use it to figure out where I am and how much more to the next stop. Just taking that extra step (tiny one).
After a slight downhill path I see a small bridge and reach the town Villava at around 15:30. The signpost says 4 km to Pamplona … only 4 km, why a child could do it.… I on the other hand decide to take a break for today.
Behind the corner there is a an albergue with a large wooden gate.
I ring and the door opens … on it own.
Not a soul in sight …
At the end of the hallway I painting of a guy … why isn’t he the spitting image of Norman Bates …
Fortunately I didn’t step into Psyho reenactment. A very kind hospitalero welcomes us to this place that is catering to pilgrims for more than 800 years. The Brazilians join me as well. Hospitalero carries Claudia’s backpack like a true caballero and guides us around 16th century chapel and a painting of Virgen de Guadelupe.
The Brazilians are a great bunch. While checking-in I knocked Luciano’s poles … “sorry”… says I … “don’t worry”, say he … “be happy” we both finish at the same time.
Claudia speaks Italian and she is a trauma surgeon, hopefully her professional skills will not be required on the Camino. A bit later we went to town to get a beer and as we sat down everyone pulls out their own smartphone and in Luciano’s case a tablet … we are all a techy bunch.
Dinner is at 20:00 so I went to a mass at 19:30. Huge church, it feels like it has space for 3,000 people and there are only about 30 people inside … on a Sunday evening… strange.
When I returned to the restaurant we ordered food. Pilgrim menu for me is spaghetti carbonara, grilled chicken with chips, and lots of wine. We ask for a check and the waiter says 98€ … “what, isn’t this the pilgrim menu” … say we … “oh, you are pilgrims, 45€ then”… says he …. hmmm.
We return just in time for 21:30 curfew. Along the way Luciano tells me a story on how he used Google Translate to buy a laptop in Miami.
Back at the albergue, I am about to turn in for the day when Luciano comes in. He is trying to ask me something but lacks the English words, and pantomime doesn’t help … so he grabs my hand and takes me to kitchen where the washing machine is … they started the laundry program and don’t know how to stop it … unfortunately neither do I.
That was day no. 3.