On the path we are joining an army of international pilgrims for the 1,390 meter climb to the border of Spain followed by a 600 meter descent it Roncesvalles. Here there is a huge Albergue run by Dutch volunteer hospitaleros. (My companions, An & Mieke, will be returning here in a few days to help for two weeks) The main building alone houses 266 pilgrims in beautiful spotless contemporary dormitories.
Our efforts on the ascent were rewarded with majestic views. We enjoyed them during our numerous rest stops. Having such a large community of hikers in front and behind us was a huge change from our walk from Lourdes and took a bit of attitude adjustment.
This was by far our longest and highest hike. We were grateful for the experience and conditioning gained during our French hike, which began we gentle hills and gradually increased in difficulty. We had a difficult time finding food on the trails in France, here there were two food trucks just on today’s walk. One serving the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.
Dinner was a different experience. We had the late seating which provided us with a few intoxicated pilgrims who had enjoyed an extended “happy hour”. And we were “blessed” to have the loudest of them join our table.
Our dorm was the on the top floor so we did not have bunk beds which was great. Lights are turned off at 10:00 & back on at 6:00am and we are required to be out by 8:00am. It is very different life👣
Today was a much less challenging walk but still presented some difficult downhill sections. The day was filled with Buen Camino greetings with our new collection of friends. It is wonderful to observe people connecting as we move along the Way at varying speeds. Some greetings turn into conversations which may last for a kilometer or two and may be continued that afternoon over coffee in the next village or the roadside food truck. (Today’s truck offers an unusual Camino promise!)
We encountered friends from previous albergues and met many new friends. An has such a beautiful spirit that she is a people magnet. She also speaks many languages as is quick to offer assistance to anyone in need.
This night we stayed in a new beautiful 3 bedroom apartment. Living arrangements like everything are shared. We were shown to our home for the night by the owner then went out for a look around town. Returning “home” to discover that the other 2 rooms are occupied by strangers. Such is the Pilgrims life in rural Spain.
We again ran into our British friends before as we headed out to dinner. Great meal & dessert. We all found sleeping a bit difficult once. This time we could blame a lonely sheep nearby bleating for hours, plus the nearby church bell marking each hour all night!