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El Camino Day #2

Thursday 14th

Roncesvalles > Larrasoaña

Distance Walked: 27km

Times the movie ‘The Way’ was mentioned: 3

Blisters: 1

That feeling you get when you’re in a deep sleep and forget where you are when you are woken, when you remember what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That. Except I still couldn’t answer why I was doing it. All I knew was that I was exhausted and didn’t want to get up. I just wanted to sleep longer. My legs were tired from the day 1 walking 25km carrying far too much on my back, my back and neck was in pain. It hurt to lift my arms. All of a sudden I remembered I was in a top bunk of an Albergue and all through the night I heard people moving most likely to the bathroom, not often, but enough to scare me into thinking it was already time to get up. I couldn’t see if it was light outside and I didn’t see any of the 3 others in my quarters moving, so I assumed I could safely drift back to sleep, fearful that I’d be woken up 5 minutes later. I’d seen some eagles or hawks or some majestic bird flying yesterday and so it was in my dreams just now. Eagles are one of my favourite animals and the dream I was having had one land on my arm, it was perfect and I was begging for someone to capture this moment on their camera phones. I was so happy. Yet nobody in the large circle surrounding me in this dream was able pull their cameras out or had the ability to do it. It was like a dream and nightmare at the same time. The real nightmare was when the final wake up occurred. I didn’t have to go to work, I didn’t even have to leave at the time I got up, but I knew it was the right thing to do. To leave before sunrise, to get an early start and put some miles underway before the sun reached its strongest. Today however the sun never shone through. Instead it felt like a walk in the English countryside in winter. It drizzled rain for most part of the walk, there was a chill in the air but the scenery was beautiful, except for a section where you have to cross through a mining site for Magna. You go from picturesque countryside to an enormous mine, then back to cobbled paths, small villages. Still, I was not getting a suntan anytime. The early start is so you can get to an Albergue (hostel) before the beds fill up. There’s only so many beds available in each one and if there’s no beds left in the town you plan on staying, it’s simply a matter of walking to the next town, which could be 1, 2, 5 or 10km away! So, it’s best to have a back-up plan if you arrive later that you will have to continue on or face having to fork out for a hotel or sleep rough if you must, but I am quietly confident that the tail end of summer means the crowds are less, and being a solo traveller, I don’t have to rely on turning up in a group needing several beds. It still seems very busy so we’ll just see. After leaving Roncesvalles this morning, the walk was relatively flat, a few hills here and there but nothing strenuous in comparison to yesterday. The Pyrenees was all but in the rear-view mirror now and the next town most peregrinos aim for is 21km away. I stopped there for a coffee but being 1pm I figured it was a good idea to push on to the next town of Larrasoaña (google it) which would close the gap and make day 3 much shorter to allow for a longer visit in Pamplona, so that I don’t have to use a rest day there to look around. I had an apple at some point on the walk and that gave me a boost of energy, I also found a second stick, well, a 3rdone. The second one was huge so I dumped it after a while, then stumbled upon another one to give me a nice balance on the walk. I doubted the use of these but with some slippery paths and slight ascents and descents, they came in quite handy. There was a couple of suggested options for where to stay and I, with my walking companion for the day, English William – who has gained the nickname Willy – opted for the Municipal. It’s the basic option for accommodation but right away we knew it was the best one. It was 8 euros compared to the “fancy” 12 or 15 euro options. But the sense of community was wonderful. More of a friendly atmosphere than yesterday, this felt like a little home, people were washing and hanging laundry in the back garden, sharing wine and beer, I was given a plate of pasta from a Latvian guy I met for 10 seconds yesterday and I almost didn’t care that the bunk I was allocated was on top again. After some lovely chats with various people, I find it hard to sum up all the moments you have, so instead I’ll just list a few of the ones that spring to mind.

People I met today:

– A Portuguese man who didn’t want his photo taken but he had an interesting story, mainly that he didn’t want to be photographed because Facebook and Instagram has caused him problems he told us. Something to do with his wife and 2 girlfriends… He was cycling a bike with super fat tyres and was carrying his German shepherd behind in trailer. The thing that weighed him down most was all the dog food. Other than that he was enjoying his journey.

– A French girl studying art who was happy to meet someone doing an artistic job for a living, and a French guy, they’d already walked 700km from France and both looked as energetic as ever and didn’t look at all like they’d walked so far making us feel like crap for being tired after 2 days!

– An Australian woman who was off on her first solo trip in about 30 years, something she hadn’t done for a long time, since being married meant most of her trips and decisions were made in a couple. She was taking it slow but so excited to be doing something adventurous like this.

– A drunk man, maybe Italian who asked me for the Wi-Fi password, the encounter was so amusing that I had to write it down. I repeated myself about 20 times, confirming that it was an open network, there was only one network to choose from and there was no password. It was something out of an old sketch comedy show.

I’ve walked 55km in total according to my pedometer. I have one blister on my left heel today, but feel mentally happy otherwise, apart from general fatigue and muscle soreness. A strap on my backpack broke within 2km leaving this morning so I vowed never to buy a fake North Face backpack from Chinatown in Malaysia again! If only I’d gotten a receipt!

Looking forward to a relatively short walk into Pamplona and being a tourist tomorrow afternoon.

¡Buen Camino!

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