Rainy walk out of Pamplona. Now I’m a real Peregrina! Let go of my fear of getting wet. Boots have walked through streams. Having coffee in cute village with Gina and Caroline from Chicago.
After another jolly Pilgrim dinner, the Monastery offered a Pilgrim Mass at 7:00. How meaningful to share a heartfelt Peace of The Lord with my new friends on the road. It was unexpectedly moving when, at the end, the priest called all the Pilgrims forward for a blessing, which was the same one we used on my last day at Trinity. Afterwards, the organ surged and a light went up on the. Statue of St. James in pilgrim garb. There was such a sense of the Spirit. I knelt beneath the Statue with many other pilgrims, with w smith in my heart.
Here’s a sampling of my photos from my second day on the Camino. So much happened yesterday,it was like 72 hours rather than 24. The day began at 7:00 at Orisson with bread and butter, and bowls of coffee. We set off on the path, and headed up and up, one Peregrino at a time. Solitude and quiet. Flocks of sheep and wild ponies, (and baby ponies) The wind came over the ridge of the Pyrennes and hit us straight in the face. I hiked by myself for much of the morning, working hard with the hiking poles. It was exciting to see the landmarks I’d read about in the Brierely guidebook: the Virgin overlooking the vast valleys of the Pyrennes, the outcroppings of rocks, the windswept cross. It seemed higher than 3,000 feet, with the wind and the snow off in the distance. Near the top an enterprising shepherd set up a food truck and that was the first place I experienced the gathering of
the Pilgrims taking a break. Many of the Orisson folks were there, and pilgrims who started early that morning in St. Jean, too.The guy at the food truck gave out the last stamp in France. Then, up and over a Col, or peak, the path came down and we entered Spain by going over a cattle grate. The Fountain of Roland, an overflowing spring, right before the Border, was much more impressive than the border itself. I had such a sense of walking in the footsteps of history. Roland, pilgrims, and Napolean took the same route into Spain. I walked with several people, and walked most of the afternoon with Monika from Austria and Ernesto from Indiana, who were both about my age. The terrain became wooded, and then we climbed even higher and walked next to snow fields. Then the descent into Rencevalles began, a long steep downhill through a forest. I couldn’t have done the up or the down without the poles. When we got to Roncevalles, we sat in the sun and had a beer and celebrated our arrival. Six hours, and a once in a lifetime journey, that had only just begun.
Joy. I keep feeling unexpected joy, and a sense of being fully alive.
Hale and I said our farewells at the Porte d’Espagne at the edge of the old town, and then I kept going up the hill, on the Camino. It was hard to leave him after such a good vacation together. He’s been so supportive of my desire to go on the Camino. My first stop was the auberge at Orisson, 8.4 kilometers up the mountain. The path was pleasantly uphill, through pastures. And silence. The only sound was the tapping of my hiking poles and the bells on the cattle down below. A farmer wearing a beret said “Madame” to my bonjour as I passed by. The road kept climbing and then got seriously steep. I met my first pilgrims as I stopped to rest: a young American guy from MA, a guy who works for Twitter in San Francisco (!) , a Dutch couple going to volunteer at the albergue in Roncevalles for two weeks, an Italian woman and an older Irish lady. Then it got seriously steep. I was very glad to have poles. There was no rush to get to Orisson because I had a reservation, so I enjoyed being in the moment and taking my time. When Orisson came into view it was like a mirage, it was so good to finally get there. I had the rest of the afternoon to read and visit with people on the deck, do our wash, and then we had a lovely communal meal with about 75 pilgrims. Wine, soup, meat, and French Basque cake for dessert. The owner of the Inn asked each of us to stand up and say where we were from. It’s a little challenging to return to the hostel life: bunk beds, no privacy, and the worst is the snoring. I looked out the window at 3 am and saw the most amazing stars.
I’ve been lightening my pack all day, ounce by ounce. Sorry this had been such a theme the last couple of days, but I’m the girl who drives around with a car as my closet. I slung on the pack and walked through St Jean this afternoon, and saw this fine pilgrim. The medieval pilgrims traveled with a staff, a cloak, and a gourd for water. No high-tech fibers for them! But they walked the same streets of St.Jean, and the Camino. Tomorrow morning I’m off to Orisson, my first stop.
We are here! We drove the back roads from Lourdes, skirting the autoroute, passing through many small villages. Some were disintegrating, some were prosperous, and as we neared the Basque Country, the houses became newer and more affluent. We saw Jai Alai courts next to medieval churches. As we neared St Jean, I found myself both excited and anxious. Hale will be saying goodbye on Wednesday, and driving up to Bordeaux to catch his flight home. I’ll miss him.
This afternoon we saw many pilgrims getting ready; the Pilgrim
Office is a hopping place, staffed by volunteers. Tonight it’s still light at 10:30, and the forecast is for fair skies. I’m so
We have been living out of our suitcases these last ten days. I packed my Camino pack before we left, and its been traveling with us. Today, as we get closer to St. Jean, I repacked it with the Camelbak and guidebook/journal, rain pants, iPhone charger, (and the solar charger I bought at the airport). It feels heavy again. To be continued…
Totally enjoying my time as a tourist in Southern France! Today we drove to Arles and walked through the market, then wandered through the labyrinth of streets that open onto squares with buildings from so many different centuries. St. Trophime church on the Place Republique, is a Romanesque beauty. On the right side of the doorway is a panel that shows souls chained together, like a chain gang, on their way to hell, being licked with flames. Yes, I’m a tourist for the time being, but the pilgrim in me wonders why the Church focused so intently on the Day of Judgment? Was it a desire to control behavior through fear?
We’re at SFO. After much packing angst last night, the pilgrimage pack is between 6 and 7 kilos! Of course, I left behind the down pillow…oh well! Counted out Advils and decanted to ziplock bags. Decanted Liquid soap, too. Took scissors to my Rick Steve’s Spain and cut out Seville, etc. packing for the French excursion beforehand was easy!