Yesterday was a tough climb, basically the foot hill of the Pyrenees, and this so called “busy” pilgrim route rendered very little company. At one point I spotted (spotted being the word) what I thought maybe a resting pilgrim…….
Okay so just a spotted pig bringing back lovely memories of our Tamworth cross Gloucester old spot pig, sorry not photos, just close your eyes and imagine sweet ginger piglets with black spots – see I bet you smiled at the thought….
Upwards and inwards, I did overtake (shall I say that again?) overtake, don’t be too impressed I’m a very slow walker, having got the message from my cardiologist “slow walking, respect the pacemaker”. Not too much further on I was joined by two absolutely charming young men one German, the other from China staying in Germany. Tim and Clear Water (not his actual name but the English translation) Clear Water is the name of the incentive my daughter Hatty has set up in the hope of cleaning up our oceans.
I walked with them as far as Vacarlos where I stopped for the night. But they were carrying on to Roncesvalles, at the time I thought I could easily do another 8 miles. I was sad to part with them, they were fascinated to learn that I was in Berlin just after the wall came and I enjoyed their sweet company.
Day 4: Today walking from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles was a complete eye opener. I set off about 9:45 a doddle thought I, hah , hah, this was really hardcore and at the same time really astounding, a hundred times more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’ and every corner, steeper than the road leading up to it. Not quite hands and knees but at times a close thing.
But it was wonderful, there were waterfalls and babbling rivers and water rushing over mossy rocks ….. the toughest walk I have ever done in my life and the most amazing – hey guys, I crossed the Pyrenees on my own, but never alone……
I felt that B was right behind me, such a strong presence that I would turn and wait for him, but he never caught me up. I just turned and smiled and imagined that he smiled back to me.
Today I saw not one single pilgrim on my way and at times I quite imaged that I might well end up a little monument by the side of the Camino, of which there are a surprising number; so much for the Way being crammed with pilgrims……. ( well I was imagining live walking, talking pilgrims)
Truth is, for me today was very hard indeed, but eventually I reached Roncesvalles and the pilgrim hostel than once had been a monastery? Maybe? but it was the most wonderful place imaginable………
I went into the church and sat awhile, thinking that I was alone and so lost in my thoughts that didn’t notice that a lady and her family must have entered the church and that she had collapsed at the back of the church, and suddenly all the lights went on and paramedics were on the scene with all the bells a whistles. I was right at the front near the alter and in my own world, indeed I was actually the only one there apart from the ladies family who were weeping and shouting. What to do? I could hardly walk out of the shadows, glide to the back of the Church, step over the prone lady and make my exit. I stayed where I was and left after the ambulance…. I pray she will be okay…….
The Church at Roncesvalles
Day 5 – today
Today I walked to Zubiri, and after a steep uphill, walking in the most atrocious conditions, heavy rain and deep mud and slimy leaves covering even slimier rocks, the path became level and then began to descend, good for the heart, terrifying for the knees!
Today I did see the allusive pilgrims, a couple of Spanish teenage girls wearing trainers and slithering about, covered in mud from head to toe, they were not happy bunnies and made me feel frightfully old and organised. About halfway to Zubri, I came across Roland, he was born in England but moved to Spain 28 years ago and teaches English to Spanish people. He is walking the Camino to Burgos and then probably doing the second half next year. It was good to have the company for a couple of hours, plus the reassurance of another person in such awful conditions.
But still there were wonderful compensations along the Way, the walk took me through vast areas of forest, where the trees are clothed in bright green moss, like one would imagine an enchanted forest from a fairy tale should be, and there were shy white violets and primroses and purple violets and celandine, and catkins and pussy willow and white heather……..
I am lying on my bed and about to indulge in that rare treat on the Camino, a bath!
But will give you one more photo before I go, it’s my Pilgrims passport, proudly showing its three stamps……
Only another 50 or so stamps to go……..
Love Susan x