Camino de Santiago Day Four: Larrasoana to Pamplona

4 04 2018

The rest of last night was so fun. It was our first night staying in a Casa Rural dorm and we had the chance to really connect with other pilgrims. The Korean group had also been at Encinal, then there were some Canadians, a French woman, a German man, Australians, and one from Great Britain. The group was very friendly and convivial and when Suzy broke out her travel guitar they seemed to enjoy it, we each played a few songs out on the deck waiting for dinner. We enjoyed talking to Charlotte from France who is on a very long Camino in stages. She’s already done three from Le Puy in France three separate times. This is her fourth leg and she hopes to complete the route in two more stages. It just goes to show the commitment some have to finishing the walk despite the constraints of work.

Fellow pilgrim Alistair gave me the tip that the supermarket next door would be open til 7 and that the owner Angel has a wine he will pour for you while you shop, it’s his house wine made by a small Rioja producer and was delicious. Alistair in the couple hours he was in Larrasoana had become a very good customer of Angel’s and thus got him to put Janis Joplin on the turntable at this adorable shop. The wine was really great, a crown a style but. O label for 4,35 Euro so I bought one to share with the group.

Dinner was fabulous. Since Monday was the last day of the Semana Santa holiday and the town was quite small we opted to eat the communal meal at the Albergue St. Nicolas. It was a delicious soup with white asparagus, artichokes and greens followed by breaded pork cutlets with piquillo peppers, basically the local and deliciously sweet red peppers drenched in olive oil and sweet melt in your mouth garlic. They also had a cheesecake and a bottle of wine for the six at the table, then Alistair and I opened ours and we had a little sing along. It wasn’t very long though as it was soon almost 10pm which is lights out. Good thing because check out is 8am!

The scene at this hostel was good, a sort of entry level group living experience, but I’m not really familiar with this type of travel so I think it will take getting used to it. My phone wouldn’t reach my perch in the top bunk so I was stuck up there without any light and I woke up a few times disoriented as it was so so dark. I felt a bit stranded way up there not knowing what time it was but my phone had to charge up overnight. In the morning with my contacts out and in the pitch black it was too dangerous to jump down from the bunk so once again I just lay there wondering what time it was for a few hours. There were lockers for our packs but I seemed to be a little disorganized this morning and my bag was packed off balance, luckily it wasn’t a long walk. On the good side I was so thankful for my travel towel which dried super fast. They had disposable sheets for sale but I had my handy silk sleep sack which was perfect and warm enough that my down blanket was really more like a security blanket, I was warm enough. The sleep sack was also perfect for covering my head so it didn’t need to rest on the plastic covered pillow or mattress.

We headed out on the early side going to find some breakfast coming from our corner of town towards the center and encountered two pilgrims coming from the route to find a coffee but to no avail. I even asked a local and there’s no coffee or breakfast in town unless Angel for some reason decided to get up early.

So off it was without coffee or breakfast. The walk was pretty much the same, still up through quaint villages and farmlands where the grass was the most verdant shade of green. We neared a bridge at Zuriain and like an oasis a cafe appeared. As pilgrims crossed many descended upon the cafe, almost like an apres ski scene in Tahoe without the snow…poles were perched, packs were dropped. I got a jamon (not our jam like prosciutto) sandwich and a cafe con leche. This was the first REALLY great bread I found on the trip. Super crispy crackly on the outside so much so that I was covered in breadcrumbs by the time I devoured the sandwich. I’m thinking I need to be eating more than I’m used to… we enjoyed a leisurely time watching other pilgrims roll in and out and a small striped kitten entertaining everyone by toying with the straps of all the backpacks.

Soon it was off again. While today was supposed to be “easy” it seemed we were a bit slow, which is fine. We piggybacked other pilgrims many times, I think because we had trouble with our rhythm. Suzy had to adjust her shoe due to a pebble or dried mud inside and thankfully since my pack was shifty and pulling at me from my left side. Two adjustments and it still just wasn’t perfect. We took extra time baffled by a conga line of caterpillars that we learned are a totally nuisance and very bad news if you touch them. They release their spines into your skin and cause an allergic reaction. My feet are still ok but today after the climbs we suddenly descended on pavement into the medieval town of Arre and from that point forward it was completely flat… and really the first city sidewalk since Barcelona. I never thought I’d say I preferred the steeps but the arches of my feet felt like they were collapsing. I’d worn thinner socks as a test and I really prefer my extra padded Smartwool socks that filled my boot more.

Well, be careful of your intentions out here in this land because just as I was pining for a small incline we hit the steep ascent in and past the moat and town walls of Pamplona. Luckily the hostel was very close to the walls of the city and they were super friendly. It’s the Albergue Pamplona-Iruna and is a few rows of coed bunks. Each had a curtain for privacy and it looks like what I’d think a tour bus setup would look like. Of course me being younger got the top bunk but it’s hard to get up there. They give you a disposable sheet to put on the bed and I struggled to get the thing on while sitting on it, there was no where to perch to get it on. I’m glad to have my silk liner. I need to make sure I don’t roll around as it’s not like a bunk, there’s no ledge to prevent you from rolling off if you move in your sleep.

Suzy was excited to be in a bigger city so although we were totally exhausted we headed out in search of a place to exchange dollars to Euros. Apparently on the EU they no longer do that at banks… and they don’t take American Express much in Spain either we heard… she tried two places today that said they exchange but it wasn’t true, this was the first chance she had too because we were in small towns AND it was the holiday. She went off in search of an exchange and I went to eat because I was having a serious food low and needed to eat, had some rose and Padron peppers, some boquerones (the deliciously subtly garlic and vinegar flavored Spanish sardines) and I became human again. Suzy is now trying to exchange money at a hotel nearby… we are praying. The issue is her debit and credit cards (and some cash) were pick pocketed in Barcelona so she can’t access her accounts. Super stressful, so have a backup plan just in case.

Heading back to the hostel soon, my body and brain are tired and feel fuzzy, from walking and a few glasses of wine. Today was no less intense I think because the body is confused and the mind is overstimulated and the adrenaline of the first few days has run its course leaving me on a little low. I’m not unhappy but if this blog is going to be honest then there you go. I’m tired in many ways, my nerves are frayed, the work issues I thought were tied up aren’t and I’ve found that my super comfy Crocs sandals are not compatible with the slick wet streets of Pamplona. Yes, it has started to rain and so the future is unsure but we will make it happen, and I do have to say I’m so thankful for all of you who are reading. It fulfills me and gives me extra energy. Thank you.

It means the world!

If anyone has a few extra dollars you’re wanting to throw around you can buy me a beer ;).



One response

4 04 2018
Suzanne Keating

Great Job Rebecca… hang in there! Thanks for writing such a great Travelogue for the rest of us!!

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