Sunday, September 13, 2009

Roncesvalles to Zubiri

As the time neared 4 PM we started to line up outside the refugio building in Roncesvalles to get our bunks - and I talked with the 2 Germans - Wolfgang and Norbert - I had chatted with in Orisson the previous night. They introduced me to Peter - whom I had seen, but not spoken to the night before, and surprised him by talking Danish to him - he had not realized that I am actually Danish, so it was fun to see his surprise!
- We were among the first ones to get our beds in the huge dormitory, so I got a bottom bunk by the wall, far from the showers and toilets, but by the wall at the "dead end", so I figured it would be as quiet as one can expect with well over 100 people sleeping in one room!
After shower, laundry and nap, it was time to go for the pilgrim´s dinner and I ended up at the "French" table, but at least one of the ladies spoke some English, so we managed, and had a nice evening with good food and wine, and then I was VERY ready for bed, and slept amazingly well.
The next morning I awoke to the sound of people getting ready to hit the camino, and I got myself up and organized, and went out into the early morning light, heading west along with all the other pilgrims as the sky turned from pink to lavender and then blue!
I could feel the long walk up and down the mountains yesterday, my knees and leg muscles were sore, but after about 1/2 hour they warmed up, and it went quite well. The weather was beautiful, and it didn´t really heat up until later in the day, so the first 10 km through several small villages went fairly easy.
Around noon-time I reached the third of the villages that were close together, and contemplated staying there for the night to rest my body, but decided against it as it was still quite early, and the village not particularly inviting. So I pushed on, even though it was a +10 km commitment, as that was the distance to the next village. Little did I realize that it involved another steep decent on difficult, rocky trails! My knees were protesting, as was my entire body, and I had to take several breaks to recuperate, and I saw that I was not the only one having problems. I passed and was passed by a younger man several times, as we exchanged comments like "My knees are killing me!" "Yeah, mine too!"
As I finally reached the town of Zubiri the albergue I had hoped to stay at was full, so I dragged myself over to the refugio they directed me to, the guy I had been exchanging laments with was on the same path, and as we arrived at the next auberge we were met by chaos, and the sad tale that only floor space was available sans madrases! Well, we had no choice, since neither of us had another +17 km in us, so concrete floor in the gym of the village is was! The reason for the problem was that the next village was closed due to a fiesta, so twice as many pilgrims as usual were staying in Zubiri! As he and I walked into the big gymnasium filled with pilgrims on mattresses and on the floor I saw my two German friends and the Danish guy - they had been there early enough to at least get a matress. I was so exhausted, I just sat down and got my sleeping bag out, and got my self situated as best I could. My floor neighbor, whom I found out was German and named Dieter, got up and came back with 2 cardboard boxes - one of them for me!! How thoughtful was that! I cannot tell you how grateful I was! The three musketeers were discussing the outlook for dinner with all the people in town, and set out to find a place and make reservations - and they included me in their plans - I was so grateful once again, because I was just so tired, to the point of nausea, and there was no way I had the energy to go find a place for dinner!
I laid down on the cardboard and rested for a while, listening to the place filling up and voices and conversations in many languages. Among them Danish! A nice young Danish woman had landed a spot on the floor also, and next to her was an older Danish woman on a mattress - we had a nice chat, and later I shared the sink with the young woman to wash my clothes. - In spite of the circumstances, or maybe because of them, I had a really nice experience, and lots of fun at dinner with my 3 musketeers! They walked at a much faster pace than I, so we knew we would probably not meet up again, but we exchanged email addresses, and had a last goodnight drink, before we bid each other farewell and Buen Camino!
As I walked back to the refugio in the gym I walked into the internet room there, and met Jane, the English woman who lived in Denmark, and I remembered she had mentioned that she had not been able to figure out how to sent an email home, to let her son know she was doing fine. I asked her if she still needed to send an email, and she did, so I showed her how to do it, and she was so happy. It made me feel good to have helped someone, as I had received so much kindness today! I went to bed on my cardboard and slept amazingly well, considering the circumstances!

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