Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Camino de Santiago - Part 2 - Roncesvalles > Larrasoaña

Camino de Santiago - Part 2
Roncesvalles > Larrasoaña

Day 2 / Monday, May 18, 2015 - At the beginning of the second day, while everyone was busy getting their backpacks, walking sticks and boots from the storage rooms, I bumped into the Australian guy again while we were deciding what to do for coffee. The effort of trying to find caffeine was not very fruitful, and by the time we headed out the door, we had decided to walk together in search of coffee.

This is when I finally got to meet the Australian guy's mother. As I have mentioned, I am really bad with names, so I just called her "mom" for the next two days. We all walked together, had breakfast in a little village together.. made each other laugh and told quite a bit of our own personal histories as we walked the 7.5 hours to the next designated city where were were to find a place to sleep.

While walking with 'mom' I learned a lot about how she escaped Yugoslavia with her young baby and the whirlwind of adventures that led to her immigration as a war refugee to Australia. However.. the best thing about walking so many miles with her was hearing her constantly, verbally acknowledge how amazingly beautiful the nature is around us. The nature was absolutely STUNNING! But hearing her softly reference the beautiful things around us in her Balkan accent was just amazing.

I learned from Australian guy that he wanted to stop the next night in Pamplona. He was also extremely interested in seeing the statue of Ernest Hemingway that was on display, leaning against the bar, in the cafe that Hemingway spent his time while he wrote the classic novel "The Sun Also Rises." My walking guidebook didn't have us stopping in Pamplona the next night so on this 2nd day of walking there were choices to make that I didn't think I was going to have to worry about. I had just planned on following the schedule and the route of the guidebook.. and leaving it at that. I guess I would worry about that tomorrow though.

By the end of the day the three of us had bonded into a solid walking group and I told them that if I was walking ahead that I would reserve beds for them at the Albergue (Pilgrim Hostel). 'Mom' and her son thought that was a brilliant idea.

Along the way I spotted a flag on a fence post next to a church and I mentioned to the Australia, 'that's a South African flag,' when suddenly a voice said, "Yes, there is a South African here.. and we have Americans and British as well." A lady walked out of the chapel near the path and introduced herself and described the work that several volunteers were doing to restore the abandoned building... and she told us that people were able to stay at the church for free as long as they helped with the restoration.

Check out the work they are doing on the project's Facebook page:



When we reached the Albergue we found that we couldn't pay for 'mom's bed in advance.. she had to be there. It was our first city and our first time trying to get beds in a random small village. The fear that she was far behind added a little stress because there were only 6 beds left in the cheap municipal alburgue and it was kind of important at this point we find a place together. She arrived within the next 15 minutes and we were able to grab three of the last beds available for the day.

Upstairs, in our little room of two bunk-beds, we found a 19-year-old guy from Wales whom we would be sharing the room with. The four of us got along so amazingly well and so immediately that it was like we had known each other forever. This kid had a really odd Welsh name that was hard to pronounce, so after a while we just stated calling him 'Tin Tin' as he resembled the character greatly. It wasn't the first time this nickname had found him.. he also happened to be a great lover of the Tin Tin character and personally owned copies of almost every issue of the comic in various languages.

I made reservations for us at the only restaurant in the village for the pilgrims' menu meal. Mom, Aussie guy and I joined a bunch of strangers, including a priest that had started the Camino up in central France. The food was considerably better than the food the previous night. Tin Tin was on a strict budget and he had purchased a bag of food that he would be nibbling on in the room while we were gone.

One of the great things about walking 25 to 35 km per day is the first beer of the day after you finish walking. Not only is it instantly refreshing.. it takes 2.5 minutes for the alcohol to get to your brain for an instant, blissful buzz.

By the time I had several drinks I was in an advanced state of high-socializing. I wanted to talk to everyone about the Camino and get to know.. everyone. Down the street from the restaurant there was a small general store that some people were hanging out, drinking cheap beers. I introduced myself as "Forrest from USA" and one of the ladies in the crowd said that someone had been telling her about "Forrest the party planner that lives in Dubai" and that she had heard very fun things about me. There was someone at the table with Agnes, Jakob and I the night prior that had heard me talking about my career.. and had told others on the walk. I was startled a bit.. but in my advanced state of schmoozing, I spontaneously created an event for the next day.

"Tomorrow, after we get to Pamplona, we all should meet at the Iruña Cafe, the same cafe where there is a statue of Ernest Hemingway, at 5PM and have a party." I told everyone to spread the word. I didn't do much promoting of this event and quickly forgot about the whole thing.. I just wanted to go to bed at this point.

I ended that day after many drinks.. again falling asleep almost immediately upon getting into our bunk-beds. The thing about people just starting the Camino.. you need a lot more sleep than people that have been walking for a while. There are several ways to tell who has just started walking. Going to bed while it is still daylight is one of those ways.

But I now had some friendly people to walk with. Still so early in the Camino. Still so far to go.

Continued in - PART 3


Keep your eyes out for yellow arrows to guide you.

Thousands of crosses made with sticks and twigs in the fences.

Sometimes you follow the rocks.

Zubiri bridge (below) is also called in the vernacular Puenta de la Rabia (Bridge of Rabies). It was thoughtthat animals with the disease would be cured if they crossed the bridge three times.


The bridge crossing over into Larrasoaña

The municiple alburgue in Larrasoaña.
Across the bridge and about 300 meters to the left.
8 Euros + 1 Euro for paper bed linen.


Continued in Part 3 - Larrasoaña > Estella

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