Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday, August 24 - Waterlogged!!

To say that we have had a camino baptism is an understatement! But this was not a baptism of fire – a baptism of water and mud!

We arrived in Roncesvalles in rain, it rained all day and there was torrential rain all through the night. We had a very nice menu del peregrino for 8 euro – soup, trout and chips and yoghurt. (I had a salad instead). I am sure the rivers will soon run out of trout if they continue to feed so many pilgrims day after day – unless there is another miracle with fish and bread! There had to be 2 sittings because there are so many pilgrims. The collegiate church is simple but beautiful with a wonderful statue of St James as a pilgrim. This is the 3rd time I've been to the church and I was looking forward to the pilgrim's mass which was at 8pm. It was heart –stopping when the old Father mentioned “peregrinos dall SudAfrika”. At the end of the mass all the pilgrims go up to the front and he gives a special blessing.

The refuge sleeps 120 pilgrims in double bunks, pushed together two-by-two and we managed to get lower bunks. We had to put our wet boots onto shelves at the entrance and all our walking poles into a large container. I don't know how anyone knows which is which in the morning!

I slept next to Anneliese but Marion had a man next to her. I told Anneliese that when she gives talks about her camino she can now say, "On my first night on the camino I had a Danish man on top of me and Marion had a Frenchman next to her."

When we woke in the morning, the rain was pelting down. The paths were torrents of mud and slush and we struggled through narrow torrent courses with deep mud almost sucking the boots off our feet! We had taken a black garbage bag, cut a head hole and armholes in it and used it like a poncho, but still the water found its way into our backpacks and into our clothes. Thank heavens we had all our clothes in zip-lock bags otherwise everything would have been soaked. Anneliese said that she thought I was mad to suggest that we keep all our clothes in plastic bags but was very grateful when she found her clothing quite dry but the inside of her bag wet.

We intending spending the first night at Zubiri but somehow we missed the turn over a bridge into the town and only realised our mistake 2km past the town. It was a hard slog up steep, slippery gravel paths and down slushy, mushy muddy tracks to Larrasoana. Luckily we managed to get beds in the refuge there. The 4 showers and 2 toilets were in a portable shed – unisex nog al! When Anneliese and I went into the shed to shower there was man in all his naked glory sorting out his clothes on a chair. A woman came out from behind the curtain also naked as a baby! We ended up showering and changing with naked men and women tiredly going on with their ablutions.

Luckily we haven’t had too many snorers and have had fairly good nights. We got us this morning to a very misty drizzle but it cleared as we walked. Walked is a misnomer, skidded, slipped and slushed is more like it. The paths were horrendous: narrow, slushy, muddy with loose rocks and in parts, steep stone steps leading down that were as slippery (if not more so) than the mud paths on either side. We decided to find a hotel in Pamplona instead of staying in a refuge so that we could unpack our packs, sort out wet and dry clothing and take stock of blisters and hot spots on toes and heels. Our shoulders are all sore so we will do a mutual back and shoulders massage tonight. The sun came out just before Trinidad de Arre (yay!) so we hung our wet fleeces on the back of our packs to dry.

We are staying on the 4th floor of a little fonda (inn) not far from the Plaza del Castillo and this Internet café. There are 3 beds and the bathroom is down the hall with sit-in baths. They don’t provide plugs but we are savvy pilgrims and brought international plugs with us so we were able to have a bath!

The main Correos (post office) was one street down from our road so I managed to post 4 envelopes home with little books, brochures and leaflets. We are now just around the corner from The Plaza del Castillo – where the old La Perla hotel is (now renovated to 5 star status). We will find somewhere to eat, try to visit the cathedral and then go back to our room.

Hasta leugo,

Syl, Anneliese & Marion


  1. Anonymous8:34 am

    Hello Sylvia, Marion and Anneliese. Thank you - have had two forwarded email messages from you. Trust that by now the sun has come out and you have been able to get yourselves and your goodies dry! can only imagine what its been like to be wet for for long. So good to hear that you are on your way though... the White Cliff group thought often of you and wondered how you would be getting along. White Cliff was very special - and very TOUGH! had to dig very deep to get through. The three of you are in my thoughts and prayers. May you be guided on your way ... with much love Kathy pilgrim.

  2. Anonymous4:50 pm

    Hi Syl, Marion & Anneliese
    Wow this sure brings back memories. Syl you are so expressive, if I shut my eyes I am totally transported. Nice going there, I am sure you are enjoying every bit, rain, sludge (and blisters)!!!!