Day #3 El Camino
Friday 15th September
Larrasoaña > Pamplona
Distance Walked 17km
Times ‘The Way’ mentioned: 1
Blisters: Still 1
Can I just set the scene by letting you know where I am as I write this? I’m in Cafe Iruña just off a beautiful plaza in the centre of Pamplona, Spain. This place is not only an orgy for the eyes with its beautiful interior design, large mirrors, chandeliers and rustic charm, it is famous for being one of the places the legendary author Ernest Hemingway would come to write, or to use their Wi-Fi. They have good Wi-Fi. I have come to be inspired by the great author (on Roald Dahl day of all days!) and maybe pen one of my classic Facebook statuses they will talk about for generations to come. The coffee is good and the orange/chocolate cake is a lovely way to celebrate the end of my third day on the camino. And as I write this, I’m also licking my little finger and cleaning the chocolate cake off the letter ‘S’ on the keyboard! Really classy writer I am! I guess old Ern didn’t have to worry about getting his MacBook messy!
Last night I’d stayed in an Albergue known as a municipal, seems most other people do some research and read up on these things, I had no idea. I figured they were all just variations of hostels but it turns out these ones in particular are the cheapest ones and the most popular for pilgrims. The bed had a rubber sheet on the pillow and bed to protect from bed bugs, you can rent sheets for an extra euro or just use your own sleeping bag or inner liner if you have one. I’d purchased a sleeping bag so I can avoid any bed bugs. My bed last night was pretty rough, each time I moved it creaked and felt like I was sleeping on a mattress 1cm thick. The 5.30am alarm that went off by one of the 12 in the room wasn’t welcome, but I wasn’t sleeping well anyway so I slowly rose and packed my things. Today of all days I could sleep in if I wanted to, but still didn’t get to. The walk was only 17km (I can’t believe I’m saying that but yes, ONLY 17KM!) so I knew it’d be a relatively easy walk to Pamplona. I’d bought a baguette yesterday along with some fruit, salami and tomato and filled my thermos with boiled water instead of red wine as it had been yesterday. My legs were tight but I felt ready to power on. The motivation being an early arrival to town and time to be a tourist in an architecturally elegant city. I flew solo today most of the way, I’d had 2 full days of conversations which was great, and had made a couple of nice walking pals, but felt the need to do some thinking today. My pace was good, not that its a race, but I have found a rhythm and apart from a few adjustments that need doing to my backpack, I’m in a good mental frame of mind to put the miles under the belt. As was pointed out to me today, I’m a slow packer but a fast walker, I definitely agree with this, I haven’t figured out a fast way to pack or a tidy way yet, I’ll nail it by day 30… and I like going up hills more than down. The 2 sticks I’ve got are working well too. Although I might toss one in a couple of days. But for now, my arms feel like they’re getting the best workout they’ve ever had!
After exchanging a few pleasantries with some walkers along the path- a mostly flat and uninspiring path which hugged the highway a few times and the sound of traffic didn’t help the romanticism of the journey- I found a spot about 10km along to stop and prepare my baguette and make a cup of tea. As much as it’s nice to sit in a small village cafe and enjoy an espresso and croissant, there’s a sense of freedom that comes with catering for yourself outdoors. Again, I couldn’t escape the sound of distant traffic so it wasn’t all back to nature, but still nice in the morning sun to take a 10 minute break. The final 4 or 5km were suburban as we came into Pamplona, it felt somewhat weird walking through neighbourhoods in full hiking gear, backpack in tow and 2 giant sticks as I strutted along the pavement while people were going about their general day to day living, but I guess they’re used to it by now. Arriving at 11am meant we had to wait an hour before the accommodation opened its doors so another coffee was consumed and upon checking in I asked in my best Spanish for a lower bunk. He insisted it is only for the old people but I signalled a back problem and he obliged. It’s the little victories in life that sometimes make it all worth it! I had an idea of swimming some laps to relax the muscles but the weather was overcast, good for the walk but a bit of a chill in the air and decided that I didn’t want to catch a cold being at an outdoor pool. I took a little nap and wander around the city, not exactly the full day of tourism I’d anticipated but I have just walked 17km so give me a break! It’s Friday night so maybe I’ll head out for a couple of drinks and let my hair down. The only problem is I gave away my only pair of chino jeans yesterday, leaving them in a lost and found table at the Albergue, so I’ll have to go out in my hiking pants and fake Crocs. Sexy! People have suggested to bring different clothes for going out in, but I’m not big on being a fashion star, I’m more comfortable being comfortable, and if people don’t like that then that is their issue. I find myself now finishing off some chocolate cake surrounded by locals drinking wine and other would be authors scribbling in their journals and laptops in the company of the ghost of Hemingway. So far I’ve only written this daily diary. Not exactly worthy of a book in my mind, but it makes me happy that I’m writing.
By the way, for those who picked up on it earlier, yes, I AM carrying my MacBook with me. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly, pardon the pun. Pilgrims are suggested to carry a certain amount of weight on this hike and having a laptop isn’t high on the priority list for most. I dilly dallied over this decision before settling on bringing it. I’ve let go of a pair of jeans which were light and were only going to be used for evening wear, but I was always going to toss them at the end of the month anyway. I will lose some extra weight in toiletries and other clothing, but one thing I didn’t want to lose was my inspiration. When asked what was my intention or motivation for doing this walk, I wasn’t sure, I still am not 100% sure. But what I’m 200% certain of is that one of the most important things to me is being and staying creative. I don’t care that you don’t read this. I don’t mind that I don’t have the correct amount of words or keywords in my titles for optimum google searching when it comes to blogs. All I really care about is expressing myself through words and storytelling. It genuinely makes me happy. It’s a release, a form of meditation if you will. Sitting with a notepad and pen are no longer easy for me to do. I can do it, but I prefer to type now. And after asking some advice if I should bring it or not, I was told that if it makes me write, then do it. I was concerned I’d be judged by other Pilgrims for having it with me as this walk is about getting away from it all for many people, but in every respect, this is a huge part of who I am and going on a walk like this is where I will find some of my best inspiration to write, and what better place to write than in the moment. So if it means carrying a little extra weight or losing some clothes to keep my ideas flowing then so be it. As long as I don’t get it stolen or fall over walking and crush it, I should be fine!
The Wi-Fi connections are pretty scattered in the smaller towns so I’ll post daily when possible and add photos when I can. I won’t be online much, just to post these things so forgive me for any lack of replies or chit chat. It’s hard to keep on top of it all and be a free spirit on the road! Day 3 has ended. And so has this post.