Our company has gone from two to four. With our late start from Pamplona we didn’t make it to Puente de Reina as planned, stopping 4 km short at the village of Muruzábal. We saw far more pilgrims on this stretch than ever before, many without full packs (meaning they had their bags shipped ahead) and wearing more standard recreational clothing. This may reflect our late start but we’re not sure.
There was “no room at the inn” where we had hoped to stay but the host phoned around and found a woman who had a house for pilgrims, more money of course but we had little choice.
Two pairs of Americans were also resident there, a couple named Gordon and Susan, and a mother daughter pair named Ruth (in her 70’s) and Deborah. We had conversed with Gordon and Susan on our way out of Pamplona and greatly enjoyed it. We all went out for dinner at a tiny bar, the only option. Over a simple meal and a bottle of wine we had a wonderful evening. We laughed and laughed. Susan kept remarking on my similarity to Billy Crystal.
So yesterday the four of us, including Astaria, traveled together. Great to be able to be able to have conversations with each of the others throughout the day. However Astaria was very fatigued and having trouble with her pack and a shoulder, and Susan was suffering from a cold. Gordon and I relieved Astaria of some of her load but everyone was tired and hot (the hottest day yet around 28) and when we stopped at the fountain in Lorca (7.4 km short of our goal, Estella) they decided to take a cab the rest of the way.
I was still feeling strong, however, and was determined to walk the distance. Gordie and Susan had a reservation at a Pension and Astaria was going to try to hold me a spot at one of the albergues. We did some exchanging of phone numbers and emails so we could connect.
I managed the final distance without pain but with gradually increasing discomfort in my swelling feet. One small blister that I caught in time hasn’t bothered me. However I was late getting to the albergue and it was full. They would not hold a bed for me. After 29 km I was desperate to be off my feet so I phoned Gordie and Susan to see if there was room in their pension. There was one room left for 30 euros and though it was the most expensive night yet, I took it gratefully.
Over dinner that evening we all decided to take a rest day today. I hadn’t done the math yet but thought I had an extra day or two and could afford the time. I spoke to my Susan later on the phone. She has been following my journey in another copy of the guidebook and she has done the math, informing me that to reach Sarria in time to pick her up at the airport I can’t take any days off. She wasn’t discouraging me from doing so but just informing me. I decided to do it anyway.
Here’s where my internal process got interesting. My intention was to just experience the journey, not to make it some kind of achievement but to be open to whatever experiences cone my way. I told myself that if I have to take a bus for a section that would be ok.
But I awoke in the middle of the night agonizing over whether to carry on or to take this rest day. There was some ego part of me that didn’t want to “cheat”, that wanted to walk the whole way, to not forfeit any part of the experience. I was also kicking myself for not working out the timing better.
I turned the light on, read the guide book and thought about what my body was telling me (not easy in the middle of the night). [Amusing note: I mistyped “middle” in the last sentence as “muddle”, which probably captures it better.] I knew that if I allowed my ego to push myself to this “achievement” I would not truly experience the Camino that I came for. I decided to take my rest day and let unfold what may. I’m at peace with that.
And my travelling companions have been such good company today that I know it was the right decision. (Humorous note #2: Gordie broke one of his front teeth, an implant, right off last night on a frozen ice cream bar. He is a handsome guy and a little self conscious about the change in his appearance. Many jokes about pirates. Finally I suggested that the rest of us express solidarity by blacking out one of our own front teeth. Much hilarity.)
Dinner at seven and then an earlier start (7:30) planned for tomorrow. Next stop Los Arcos, pop. 1200′ alt. 450m. Trusting the Camino and not making a reservation.
Final note: we are hearing that this might be a record year for the number of pilgrims with more than ever in September, thus taxing the accommodations. Trust. Trust.