The Surprises At The End Of The Day – Pasai Donibane and on to San Sebastian

Saturday, August 29, 2015 (continued).

We return (up the 119 steps) and I settle in at the kitchen table to write this. Gathering at the table are at least half of the temporary residents, eating a delicious meal or watching the variety of food Ana prepared for the volunteers and other guests. Miguel brings out his guitar and begins to sing.  Soon the guitar is passed to Pau (which means Peace in Catalan or Basque, not sure), who continues playing for another two hours. First he sings, then he begins a memory game in which we each choose a word but have to remember all of the words chosen before. The only thing I can think of is “bacalao” which is nearly a joke in Spain because it means “cod” and it is on nearly EVERY menu, ANYWHERE on the Camino.  I might have written two years ago about an Italian pilgrim sitting across from me at dinner in Zubiri, and for any question or comment, no matter what the converesation, this man, having had too much wine, bellowed, “Bacalao!”

The results were riotous, and Pau made a song out of more than two dozen words we threw out as we took our turns.

Pau and his guitar

Pau and his guitar

Part of the sing-along group . . . Ria in turquoise shirt

Part of the sing-along group . . . Ria in turquoise shirt

A mosaic of Che Guevara hangs over my head as our strangely connected group sings, laughs and though everyone is speaking Catalan and Basque, and the Americans, Germans and Chinese among us have absolutely no idea what is being said or sung, it’s a charming blend of bodies, voices, cultures before we all crawl to our bunks.

Che watches over me . . .

Che watches over me . . .

Sunday, August 30, 2015.  Awaken to strange Basque music, perhaps, and scramble to finish the ritual we will come to know well.  I am learning again how to be efficient in the albergue mornings, packing things so I don’t forget any items.  It takes a few days . . .

Leave the albergue, saying goodbye to Ana and Ana and Miguel, heading down the (yes) 119 steps one last time toward the dock, where a shuttle boat will carry everyone across the river to the other shore of Pasai Donebane.  Then the search for an open bar at 8:15 so we can all get our cafe con leche fix.  Sun reflecting on the water already, as I make my way toward the yellow arrows that will direct my path today.

Walk 500 steps, and yes, I count them, up up up and over . . . think of Dr. Seuss’ book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins . . . and that makes for the beginning of a a very long short day to San Sebastian.  Again, beautiful coastal views.  Magnificent cloudless day.  95 degrees and I can’t really tell that today’s temperature is two degrees cooler than yesterday’s.  Those steps.

The beginning of endless turns, stone steps and the sea

The beginning of endless turns, stone steps and the sea

Once I get to the “top” (there never seems to be a “top”  . . . ), I topple over twice . . . once backwards onto sloping grass, performing some sort of accidental chiropractic on myself. I hear my neck crack in a couple of places as I hit the back of my head on the grass. Maybe my fall will fix what Dr. Brown could not, after three minor surgical procedures.

The second fall comes near another “top” of the pathway leading down to San Sebastian . . . I try to duck under a railing between a steep downward stone path and a parallel set of descending steps, but my backpack catches on the railing and I land hard.

I must have hit the right side of my face, because last night (a full 36 hours later) I looked in the mirror at Albergue San Martin and saw the stony abrasion on my right cheek. So happy I don’t care how I look while I’m walking the Camino. But as I lie on the ground, “resting” after my second crash, a young couple comes rushing up. Ruben and Debbora . . . helping me up, offering to carry my pack –  “no thanks . . . better I get used to it again . . . ” and when we get to the bottom, on the eastern edge of town, they ask where I am headed. I tell them the Albergue de Peregrinos and gave them the street name. Of course . . . the other side of town. I am feeling pretty shaky and after yet another burning up day with no cloud cover, and those 500 steps, I ask for a taxi. (Again, sorry, Kent!) Awaiting me at the front of the closed Albergue door is . . . Ria, of course! We get two of the 50 beds, baja, of course. Settle in, take showers, and walk down to the central boardwalk on the seacoast.  This is a big deal resort city, so the beaches are packed with people.

Find a sidewalk café, order water with ice (always get strange looks when I do that), a glass of tinto (red wine), and some pinxos (the Basque word for tapas) with Ria and Petra, another German woman we met last night at Santa Ana.

Pau is also in our albergue and had told Ria about an outdoor concert at the Pavilion tonight, with swing and jazz music. We saunter over to have a look and join the packed-in crowd, all sitting on the grass overlooking the sea with the band’s stage at the front. A perfect setting. Everyone brings their children, especially the young ones. Strollers are lined up along the edge of the garden, and I notice how many fathers are attentive to their little ones. Fathers and grandfathers playing with the children, much moreso than the mothers, for some reason.

This isn’t a great photo, but I think it represents the energy of the evening.  At the end of the evening, the 50-person albergue is sweltering hot and there is not a window in the big room.  I drag my pillow and sleep liner upstairs where the bathrooms, showers and laundry sinks are located, put my night-time “equipment” on the floor in the next room, and try to sleep.  Some nice young woman shows up with an inflatable twin-sized “mattress” and I’m out for the night.

The Concert at the Pavilion . . . with the sea as a backdrop.

The Concert at the Pavilion . . . with the sea as a backdrop.

About Woodswoman

Writer, educator, psychotherapist, woodswoman. Crave solitude and just walked the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Long-term partner, Neil. Three grown kids, one traveling the world for a couple of years (see, and two in other countries . . . Thailand and Texas! One Golden Retrievers and two cats. Avid reader, looking for 10 more hours in each of my days.
This entry was posted in Albergues on the Camino, Camino Albergues, Camino de Santiago, Falling and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Surprises At The End Of The Day – Pasai Donibane and on to San Sebastian

  1. Jeanne Sheriff says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely.
    Sorry about the falls. Sounds like no serious hurt, though. I guess you proved that old Irish saying about ‘may the road rise up to meet you…’ ha

    • Woodswoman says:

      Well, you should be in my body today. Tried to get a massage in Deba, where I am sleeping tonight, but they are booked up through the weekend. This is a great little town, and right on the sea coast, of course!

  2. Janelle says:

    Yo, lady! The Camino or the Stations of The Cross??? Thank goodness for Ria and Pau, the concerts and the tinto or whatever you are calling the vino there… At least you have the knees for all the steps, and of course, the passion for the challenge. Please remain vertical till bedtime…💃💃💃

  3. Woodswoman says:

    Well, I DID have the knees for all the steps but am now wearing knee braces (the black elasticized kind) on BOTH knees. Brought one brace with me, and bought another yesterday. Sigh. I think they’ll heal once I’m home.

  4. stringguru says:

    What strikes me may seem obvious but the place you are visiting is a real world. It seems it is bustling with energy and activity and a special cultural beauty. Thanks for sharing….I’m really enjoying this! I’m also wondering if I could take on such a physical challenge.

    • Woodswoman says:

      Well, if you ever want to try, do NOT start with the Norte. The Camino Frances (the path Martin Sheen takes in the movie The Way) might be your choice for a first time. IF I had chosen this one for a first Camino, I think I would have gone home by now. This is beautiful torture, but in about four days it WILL get better!.

  5. Judith Heath says:

    Oh thank you so much for sharing! What a gutsy adventure!

  6. Bonnie says:

    Thank you for posting! Love reading your blog . I really liked San Sebastian/ Donostia when I visited there years ago; wonderful food. Buen Camino!


  7. islisaLisa says:

    So glad you are sharing your adventures with us again!! I am sharing a mantra with you that my sister and I have incorporated in our lives……”Falling is not an option” Good luck with the rest of your trip…no pun intended….

    • Woodswoman says:

      Interesting that you should write this. I’m really looking at the whole idea of falling, failing, whose expectations do we live up to, etc. I’m writing about that, and you will see some of my thoughts soon on this site. When I first read your quote, i read it as “FAILING,,.” rather than “FALLING”. Shows you where MY head is.

      • islisa says:

        Epic stuff you are experiencing and expressing. I love that I get to piggy back on your travels and I soooo appreciate your courage, strength and openness to life….

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