Though I imagined that each day I’d walk and each night I’d write and post, it just doesn’t turn out that way. While there is often internet, rarely is there a plug for a recharge on the computer, And when there is both, my recharge button is either burned out or otherwise not functioning. So you will get doses, sometimes perhaps long doses, sometimes short ones, with photos eventually, when the VERY slow internet that seems to be the standard in Europe, allows WordPress to download my pics before the computer battery dies. But I’ve gotten a couple of secretly concerned messages from friends, so I’m beginning here.
While I’m writing each night, that posting problem continues. Today I have a “free” day in Pamplona, trying to get some of this to all of you, as well as take care of a bit of other business, like sending nearly eight lbs of sleeping bag, trail runners, and larger camera home. Ah, well, next time, I’ll know better. So for now, here goes:
September 1,2013 Happy Birthday, Mom. Though if you were still alive and had your full senses, you would think I had lost mine, I’m thinking of you, as always.
Today is my first day walking on the Camino, and since I’m only going to Orisson, actually staying at Kayola, a gite (little cottage or guest house) owned by Jean Jacques, the owner of Refuge Orisson, I didn’t get a really early start. After all, 8.5 km . . . how long could it take? I’ve been walking with a pack at home, about 3 miles per hour, and 8.5 km is not even five miles. Figuring for the climb, I thought perhaps three hours would do it. Actually, I wasn’t far off in time, but completely out of my reality for how hard the last half of it was, considering the weight of my pack (everyone says their packs are too heavy, but this is absurd). The road went seemingly straight up, and the soft countryside below me was only sometimes comforting. Finally, in what turned out to be only a mile before my destination, when I thought I would just lie face down on the pavement, my pack pressing me flat before the oncoming cars could do the job, I stuck my thumb out.
Our St. Jean Pied-de-Port auberge hostess, Daniele, had talked about how easy it is to hitchhike. This was a first for me. Death flattened by backpack vs. death by murder on the Camino . . . a toss-up. Two adorable young men slowed down, the more adorable passenger jumped out of the car, hands out to take my pack, and asked, “Orisson?” I replied, “Kayola” and got into the back seat. In what seemed to be about 30 seconds, the car pulled over in front of an orange metal gate. Sign? Kayola. I thanked the two, perhaps lovers, but there goes my imagination, and made my way inside.
No registration desk. Lovely. Must have to go up the next 800 meters to Orisson. A woman with short blond hair peered down at me from above. “There’s one single bed left, so you might want to grab it, and then walk up the hill and check in.” I lugged the pack upstairs, claimed the last bed not a bunk, hobbled downstairs and on up the road to the Refuge Orisson, also a bustling restaurant full of people indoors and outdoors, including my hitch-hiking patrons. I headed straight for Carol, the bar cashier and registration honcho, who greeted me with a confident smile, remembering that I indeed Paypal-paid for a room in July. We confirmed reservation and payment for dinner and breakfast, and I made the walk back down the hill. People who say downhill is worse are right. I never thought so before, but I’m convinced now, and we’re not even talking yet about the long uphill climb tomorrow and the even longer downhill. I will say this again and again, I fear.
I got an envelope and the information to send half of my pack weight down to Roncesvalles ahead of me. 8 Euro. No, it’s not cheating, I tell myself, it is self-care. Self-preservation. And I’m by far not the only one. We’ll learn, we heavy packers. We will learn. I said I would take these days as they came, with no pre-conceived notion of what I must do, or how things would be and here’s my first lesson.
Again at Kayola, I see that there are ten bed spaces. Nine women and one South Korean young man (poor guy), with a sprained ankle already, make up our group. Four Canadian women (New Brunswick) are out on the patio, alternately going into the little kitchen for tea and returning to the sun to hang laundry. When I come out of the shower, they have opened a bottle of wine and three women from Canberra (Oz) have joined them. They offer me a glass. Heaven. Clean, boots off, wine. And another good hike up the hill for dinner in two hours.
Photos later, I promise.