May 16, 2011 Puenta la Reina to Cirauqui

Church door near Cirauqui

Slept until 08:30, then downstairs to have breakfast and meet with Luke and make plans. Went to Farmacia with him, bought his drugs and some white tape for my toes, which had developed blisters. Decided Luke would stay at PLR with Gal and Lila, rest a day, make plans, and then connect via Internet/cell to stay in touch. Recognizing his slower pace and his growing interest in the two young ladies I realized I potentially will not see him until journey’s end at Santiago.

Decided on a short walk today in order to slow down, relax a bit, and enjoy one of my favorite little towns. So I walked only 7.5 km to Cirauqui and am on porch overlooking church as I write this, visiting with Kim and Janie from Arkansas. Very nice day with clear blue sky. Cool breeze. I washed laundry then wandered the town. Found bowl of fish soup at bar feeding about 20 workmen. Good soup with lots of bread to dip. Back to albergue for laundry and conversation, then Mass at the church at 19:00. Energetic and enthusiastic older priest who seemed much loved by the elderly ladies.

Dinner at 19:30. At first I was nervous that there were few English speakers at table. Kim, Janey and me, plus 3 Basques, one Korean, one Hungarian. The Basques were very interested in talking, so I had my first experience as an interpreter. The Basques were curious why I had done so many caminos. Told them I was a priest and a friend of Santo Santiago. The middle one said, “Es claro!” After a great dinner and enthusiastic conversation headed to bed in the same bunk I’d enjoyed 3 years earlier — looking out toward the south, seeing nothing but green hills with vineyards in the distance. Cirauqui was great international experience. Met Americans, Dutch, German, Korean, Spanish, British, Hungarian, French.

May 15, 2011 Pamplona to Puente la Reina

At Pamplona last night I’d made a plan with the others to walk to Puente la Reina and meet at 19:00 at the famous bridge for which the town is named. I worried about Luke being able to make this walk, as his knee was swollen and painful.

Once again I found myself unprepared for a Sunday, the day of the week in which shops open late or not at all. So I left the hotel at about 08:00 with no food or water. Toward the outskirts of town I found a news kiosk opening and bought 4×0.25 liters of water plus 2 sugar donuts. I wolfed down the donuts (guiltily of course) and walked to outskirts of town where I found a baker with some much-loved chocolate croissants (whew), and then I headed for the climb up to Alto de Perdon.

A large group of Spanish schoolchildren of about 10 years of age were walking along, unintentionally accompanying a stream of pilgrims up the hill. I tried to engage some in conversation but they had been well taught not to talk to strangers. I met a tall Dutchman (Marty?), a nice Italian who loves American music and a New Age Portuguese man who I remember as having been drying his red shirt back at the Roncesvalles albergue’s bathroom. I made the top of Alto de Perdon with the Italian fellow. On the way up I also met a nice Danish pair — two women +/- 50 years old — who needed help with their camera and gave me 1/2 sandwich since I had no food.

Walking out of Pamplona

I continued on to Uterga and Obanos but first made a diversion to Eunate and enjoyed new friends Kim and Janie of Arkansas and James and Laurel of New Hampshire. We laid in sunshine on the grass together and talked about home. Eunate was locked shut but the hospitalero of the adjacent albergue opened it for a few minutes every hour or so. I walked on to Obano by myself until meeting three Koreans approaching Puente la Reina. I arrived at PLR and heard a shout from across street, and there was Rocky getting out of car. She had hitched a ride over Alto de Perdon and also from Obanos to PLR. We walked together past the albergue, went to bridge to find the other albergue across river and saw Luke already waiting for us — sleeping on a bench at the famous bridge. He had taken a bus to PLR and Gal and Lila had walked. Luke’s knee was still hurting, so we strategized about how to get him to a doc. I decided to get a hotel for us and found one in the middle of Calle Mayor. I asked at the desk about a local doc and they called and directed us to nearby clinic. The Doc examined Luke via touch and sight and pronounced that he needed a shot of toradol and a prescription for naproxin. Had dinner at hotel with Canadian couple — she a retired teacher and he retired from a hiking tour company. I’m the one walking pilgrim from our little pilgrim family right now and am hoping that Rocky will get stronger and Luke will heal.