Saturday, July 08, 2017

On the Camino, Part 1: The first day is the hardest

And the second day is pretty tough, too.

It's raining in Pamplona right now. It's really the first time I've had the chance to sit down at my computer in a week. So let's take a moment to catch up.

I'm sitting in the corner of the office belonging to a hostel owner, an imposing guy with a thick German accent to match. He's opened his hostel up to pilgrims--and pilgrims only--during the Fiestas de San Fermín in Pamplona, when he could easily fetch 50 or 100 euros a bed. For a mere 7 euros, I have a bed and a place to get away from the rain.

I'm in the office, which is also the living room, which is also the dining room, while the German scrapes some dinner from his bowl and some German pilgrims play cards across nearby. How did I get here? Let's back up.


If you haven't figured it out it by now, I'm walking the Camino de Santiago. Specifically, I am walking the Camino Frances, a pilgrimage of 790 kilometers, or about 480 miles, which starts in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and ends in northwestern Spain at Santiago de Compostela.

It's no easy undertaking. Many pilgrims don't start at Saint Jean Pied de Port, opting to begin in Pamplona or even closer to Santiago. I can understand why. The first day kicked my rear. It starts with a long and steady incline followed by a deep and difficult downhill into Roncesvalles. There were moments when I didn't think I would make it. I rested often, especially before steep inclines, struggling to catch my breath.

It's also as beautiful as it is difficult.

I ran across sheep, cows, and horses, with many coming right up and across the road. The road changes from paved streets to dirt roads to rocky paths cutting across the Pyrenees. Good boots are a must, especially on the first day of walking.

At night, I sleep in albergues, hostels for pilgrims on the Camino. The accommodations vary greatly but usually consist of a bunk bed as well as showers and a bathroom. Anything on top of that is luxury. On the third night I slept in a medieval building from the 12th century. I did not complain when the WiFi wasn't working.

Sleeping in a different bed each night keeps monotony well at bay. Part of the reason I haven't had time to sit and write is I'm often busy setting in, unloading my bag, setting up my sleeping bag, discovering how the showers work, seeing if there's anywhere to do laundry, and trying to get a bite of food, all before the hostel closes for the night.

The rain in Pamplona today has forced me to to stay in for the evening, a good change of pace for me. I cannot promise I'll be able to blog as often as I wanted from the Camino, but I have been snapping plenty of pictures along the way and look forward to sorting through them and sharing them with you. The average pilgrim takes about a month to walk the Camino Frances, so I'm sure there'll be time for another update somewhere along the way.

For now, I need to log off and head to bed. Tomorrow, I see the bulls!

1 comment:

Lolez said...

I love the pictures!!I can't wait to read more.