September 16, 2002

9/16/02 Puente la Reina

24 km

Pamplona is a city of shadows, with narrow streets and most buildings four or five stories tall. I thought it was pretty dark when we left but I couldn't tell because of the black shadows. As we walked out of the old quarter and neared the Citadel, the sky definitely looked like rain. And as I left the city, Angela stopped to make some phone calls.

At Cizur Minor, I found a baker about a quarter of a mile off the route. After that, it again began to climb out of the valley. A few times it sprinkled, but that was all. Higher and higher the long row of pilgrims went.

Long & winding road

At the top of the ridge, the Camino steps through some forty windmills that provide power to Pamplona. I was afraid that the weather would turn worse on the other side of the ridge, but instead it just got hot. My feet are not doing so good today. I have a big crack in my right heel. Have to come up with some remedy before it gets worse.

Monument to pilgrims

I decided to push on, only taking a break when I ran across Doug and Cheryl taking a lunch break. They were the mountain bikers I had seen the first day coming over the Pyrenees. I couldn't refuse a fresh ham sandwich. Soon caught up to Josué and we talked a bit, him in English and me in Spanish as we entered Puente la Reina.

Santiago Peregrino

I'm feeling a bit isolated here at the refugio run by the Padres Reparadores of the seminary next door. I'm in a room with nine other guys, all Spaniards. Even though I've been on the route four days, I don't recognize any of them.

I took a walk to see some of the city. The Iglesia (church) del Crucifijo was built by the Templars and has a unique early 14th century crucifix in the shape of a 'y'. The Iglesia de Santiago has a late 14th century statue of Santiago Peregrino. In Spain, St. James is represented by two images, Santiago Peregrino, the pilgrim, and Santiago Matamoras, the Moor Slayer. The bridge you cross to leave town was built at the command of Queen Urraca in the 11th century specifically to help the pilgrims cross the river.

Bridge across the Arga River

Other friends finally arrived and I met a few others. I had lunch with Judy from California who has been studying in Spain for the last year, along with Victoria and Josué. Later Angela, Herman and Kit arrived. Herman is from Germany and is only walking the portions of the Camino in the Pyrenees. And Kit, or Cristobol as he calls himself, is from the US. I thought he was going to stay an extra day in Pamplona with Mark and the Italians. Looks like he was the only to keep going out of that group.

Iglesia del Crucifijo

Over a few sandwiches, I told Angela how this trip is turning out much different than I had envisioned. The first few days were too full of excitement to think about anything. But now, as day four comes to an end, I'm making several observations. The biggest being I just don't know enough Spanish to actually talk to someone. I know enough of the essentials like how to buy something, but in a real conversation, I usually can get one or two sentences out then run out of words. It's as if I'm alone in a crowded room. I don't want a repeat of bike trip where loneliness drove me to the finish of the trip. But this also affects my relationships with those that do speak English. I know I can begin to 'cling' to someone as a security blanket. I said as much to Angela. But she has her own purpose for being on the Camino and it wasn't to be my interpreter. It will be interesting to see how I figure this out in my head.

Later in the evening while many of the new people, those starting in Pamplona, cooked dinner, I guess Angela and I looked hungry because a group of five guys invited us to share their meal. Angela did most of the talking, but when they were cleaning the table after eating, I was sitting along trying to explain Health Care in America to Jose, a dentist from Santander. He tried very hard to understand my Spanish. Finally, I had to head to bed.