Sunday, July 13, 2014

After Roncesvalles

The next morning we woke to the light, about 6:15?, put our things back into the packs and our socks on our feet, went downstairs to put our boots on, and heard rain. With thunder.
It didn't have that pounding, rushing sound we associate with tropical downpours, so after we were booted and loaded up, we headed out.
Behold the fetching rain poncho! (My hat was under the hood to keep the eyeglasses dry.)
The rain was not bad at first. Then the heavens really turned the spigot to "flood." After a while the lightning came back (not that you could see it for the trees) so there was thunder to give variety to the rain sounds.
And then the hail started.
The village of Espinal, about 6.6 kilometers down the road from Roncesvalles, has a fronton court. (Handball court.) I had wondered why this was always mentioned in the guidebooks--then we staggered into Espinal in the midst of hail, rain, and more hail, and discovered that the fronton court was an open building with a roof, and no fence. By the time this batch of hail finished there were about 30 people huddling under the roof. And many of us had so much water in our socks and boots that we could remove the boot and pour water out of it. (I also squeezed water out of the toes of my socks.)
The white stuff you see on the roof across the way is hail piling up. The gray stuff on the ground around the tractor is water puddling. The water puddled a lot that day.
After a while it let up and we thought it would be safe to continue. Then about a half an hour later the rain started up again. It poured off and on all day. The trails were flowing streams, the water flowed over the toes of our shoes going up hill and over the heels of our shoes going down hill. We crossed over two streams that had a row of tall cement posts for fording that day.
Just before we got to Zubiri we had to cross a downhill slope that was nothing but rocks and slick mud. There was almost nowhere to put our feet. When we got to the bottom, I took a picture.
Somehow it doesn't look as impressive as it was to go down! But we made it into Zubiri about 2 pm, crossing over the Puente de Rabia, and settled into the municipal albergue. We had walked 22.1 kilometers: 13 1/4 miles. It was our first night in the bunk beds that would turn out to be standard sleeping arrangements for the Camino. It was my first night dealing with the blisters that would make much of my walk difficult and uncomfortable. It was also our first experience of slapping the dirty clothes in a sink, giving them a good squeeze, and hanging them out on a line to dry. (Or not.)
Fortunately the rain had stopped just before we got into Zubiri. To continue the good fortune, our boots that had been sitting on a picnic bench outside went inside before we went to supper, and our clothes were dry enough to bring in as well. It rained during the night, and people whose clothes had been left on the line overnight were in a real pickle.
We ate the pilgrim menu at the local bar: spaghetti in tomato sauce, chicken wings, soggy fried potatoe wedges, red wine and flan. This was my first experience of the standard potato side dish of Spain. I think they like their fried potatoes soggy like that, because they are everywhere.
In the morning, our boots were still very wet. We had no choice, however, and so we put them on. We started walking and discovered that there was no coffee shop, no bakery, no anyplace to get some foot to start out on. (The day before there had been a coffee shop close to the monastery. Cafe leche for two, and split a croissant with ham and cheese inside it--good start.) We walked down the trail and there was nothing in the way of a food place.
My sweetie had bought a small packet of Oreos and we ate a couple of those. (I hate Oreos. In the States they are always stale and horrid. The Spanish Oreos, however, were crisp and as good as two pressed wafers with Crisco icing inside are going to get.) About 9:30 or 10 we stumbled over a coffee shop and joined the mob scene as about 40 peregrinos tried to use the bathrooms and buy coffee and food in a place with about 15 seats. But we were grateful for the dry seat and the hot coffee! We met three Irish ladies, one of whom had lived in Dallas for a year. Later that day, they saw us again adn serenaded us with "Deep in the Heart of Texas."
And we walked on through another wet day, with a new perspective: at least there isn't any hail.
And I couldn't take any pictures at all, because when we had arrived in Zubiri I had discovered that my camera case was damp all the way through and the camera--and the case--had to dry out before I could take any more pictures.
They came up on us again from behind, and having seen my limping gait, gave me Compeed bandages for blisters. They were going to Pamplona to fly home, as their vacation was over. We thanked them, applied a Compeed to one of the worst blisters, and kept on. My pretty speckled Buff neck scarf was on my head that day. It decided it was embarrassed to be seen with me and fell off somewhere in the forest before we got into Pamplona.
We had walked  20.7 kilometers: almost 13 miles.
We knew there is a lot to see in the city, so we got a small room in Hotel Otona for 2 nights. This is a tiny hotel/pension over a bar on a street full of bars--all of which advertised pilgrim menus or daily menus. We had 2 twin beds, a shower all our own, and a TV. We took off our wet shoes and socks, napped, and wore our shower shoes for the evening. We ate Menu del Dia at a place that advertised Basque food. I had sopa de pesca, grilled squid, and yogurt for dessert. The squid was absolutely wonderful. It was big, too, and white, and I couldn't finish it all. (Many days later we learned that the white squid is actually a different variety of squid, called Pocha I think. It is white because they peel the skin off of it.)
My sweetie had paella, trout with country ham, and crema de arroz. He really loved the rice dessert. It wasn't thick like most rice puddings are.
We were too tired to stroll the city and drink and eat in this place and that place and the other one, so we called it a night.