Sunday, October 07, 2007

The last post

This will be our last post from Spain - Anneliese left for Germany at 11h30 this morning and we will be leaving Pamplona at 9pm for Madrid where we get our flight home at 12h35am. It has been a restful 2 days in Pamplona. We did a 5km self-guided walk around the walls of Pamplona yesterday morning, which took us almost 2 hours with all the stops and photo opportunities. Pamplon√° was a strategic defense town close to the border with France. The walls were considered an engineering masterpiece and many cities sent their engineers to examine it and suggest new architecural designs for its fortification. The walk ended at the Citadel - constructed in the 1500’s but breached by the French in the 1800’s. It forms a green lung in the centre of Pamplona and yesterday the parks and gardens were filled with children, jumping castles, athletic events, joggers and families out strolling in the sunshine.
After lunch we had a siesta and then walked to the new town to have a look at the large Stuttafords type department store, which covers 5 floors. We were a bit overwhelmed so didn’t stay long. On the way back into the old city we came upon a marching crowd, shouting slogans and tried to avoid them by going down a side street. Then we heard police sirens and the crowd began to disperse and people ran in all directions. The police vehicles disgorged riot police with batons and shields who charged at the running people. Finn and I got caught between two teenage girls and charging police who brutally smashed the girls with their batons. One girl sprawled on the floor and they hit her whilst she lay on the ground. Finn put his back to a pillar and held me. The police changed direction and started chasing other running people. It was like the Running of the Bulls but with police and ordinary citizens instead of bulls and young men. We were quite shaken and Marion was almost ill with shock. We went back to our little street and Finn found an Irish pub that was broadcasting the Australia-vs-England rugby match. That was him done for the day! In the evening we walked back to the Plaza and around the corner found windows smashed, large garbage tips overturned and on fire - remains of a barricade. Later on, in the hotel room, we saw news items showing the police baton charging demonstrators in many cities in Spain including Pamplona. (We think it was an ETA demonstration.)
We have had a very quiet day today as we had to vacate our room at mid-day and could not leave our luggage at the hotel as the concierge was going off duty at 12h30. So, we carried it to the square, sat in the sun for a while watching the people go past and then sat for another hour and half having lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Finn has now gone off to watch the SA vs Fiji match at the Irish pub (The Harp) and Marion is watching the luggage whilst I am in this little internet place.
We will arrive in JHB at 10h30am tomorrow and will be in Durban at 13h30. Marion and I have been away from home for almost 7 weeks - a very long time - and Finn for almost 2 weeks. It is time to go home.
Thank you all for sharing this journey with us. There is so much to absorb, so many thoughts, experiences, sights and sounds to sort through and put into perspective. I have taken almost 1000 photographs and am sure that many will evoke all sorts of memories.

Love to all - from a sunny and warm Pamplona,
S M and Finn

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