Saturday, May 14, 2011

On The Way

I´ve just finished my fourth day of walking and write this from Pamplona.  The physical part is challenging but (thankfully!) nothing I can´t handle.   I´m pacing myself and not trying to push too hard or too fast. 

The community spirit is incredible.  At pilgrim meals (restaurants often offer special ´pilgrim menus´) you hear Spanish, Italian, French, German, Korean, Japanese, as well as English in the accents of Brits, Australians, and Americans, though Americans are definitely a minority.  Yet every pilgrim offers the one phrase we all share, ¨Buen Camino!¨ When you run into someone you met at a meal or in one of the refugios or walked with, you light up like you just met your long lost brother or sister. 

I bonded instantly with Kari from North Carolina, who is walking to mark her 50th birthday.  Sadly, we will be splitting up tomorrow because she has a much tighter schedule than I do.  But it has been a delight to walk with her for the last 3 days, and we are sharing a hotel room in Pamplona tonight.

I wish I could upload photos, but since I don´t have that capacity, I will just offer some verbal snapshots--

  • the sound of the bells that the Basques tie around their horses necks as we climbed out of Orisson the second morning
  • the fat black slugs that crawl across the path every few feet, as well as the snails with their shells of translucent amber which are rarer but very beautiful
  • wildflowers blooming along the path--scarlet poppies, pale pink primroses, violet foxglove, and others that are white and yellow and blue whose names I don´t know
  • the cheery greeting of ¨Buen Camino¨from a woman in the window of a house in one of the many small villages we pass through
  • crowding into a cafe after a couple of hours of walking to order breakfast or a snack
  • sitting around a table in village bar drinking the local wine or beer and sharing stories of our walk that day, or why we are doing this crazy thing at all
  • the blessing of the peregrinos at the pilgrim mass in Roncesvalles the second night, in an ancient church where pilgrims have been blessed on their way for hundreds of years
  • walking through forest mists, where pilgrims emerge and then disappear in an eerie fog
  • being greeted by a horse that crossed the path, its bell gently clanging, and paused a moment to nuzzle my hand
  • sheep clustering on a hillside of impossible greenness
  • the windowboxes and pots of geraniums and tulips in the windows of houses 
  • the smell of garlic frying as we wind our way through a small village

Just four days in and it is rich beyond measure.


  1. Revrenjen..your now by my best estimation, two days ahead! Tonight we sleep in Zubiri and tomorrow Pamplona! I love your list..would, could only add, hearing my first honest to goodness cukoo bird! Exactly like the clocks! Buen Camino!

  2. I took a day off in Pamplona, so now I´m only a day ahead. I´m in Puenta de Reina today (May 16) I hope we run into each other soon. My name is Renee, by the way.

  3. Oh no...It´s now, oh heck...I don´t know..I think its Tuesday...and I´m in Puenta de Reina!! The last part was so hard, cause it was soooo hot and sunny, but we made it! still somewhere in your shadow..Hoping for Estalla tomorrow! Buen Camino Renee, Karin