Early start yesterday. Loads of people up at 5 yesterday much to our and the Irish girls disgust. Wouldn't mind but it doesn't get light until after 8. Consequently a bit tired and it was still damp drizzly rain. Managed over 20km with only 400m of climbing. Tired and a bit footsore last night. Clobbered by a typical elderly Spanish lady on arrival in Zubiri. She dragged us up to the top of a block of flats, so we had a private room with double bed and a shower. Reunited with fellow pilgrims, drinking beer in the street, all better with the world again.
Later start this morning, great breakfast in corner cafe, ready to go. Better routines may start today. Each of us will listen to a Michel Thomas cd as we go along. We need to get to grips with the language, it gets embarrassing lapsing into French all the time.
Lovely to hear from you Judy, it feels as if we've been away for ages already, and I'm missing you… What's the gossip? You can tell me everything I'll keep it to myself and its not as if anyone is listening in..
Ellen: Funny to be with so many different nationalities some of whom have never been to England, there's a real cheerful sort of refugee spirit going on , some of the conversations are quite personal and revealing. So many Irish as well, we had a heated debate last night on the merits of British/ Irish/ American tv comedy which was quite telling. Our bocadillos have arrived, time to strap on the old burden and move.
Last night we followed a recommendation to the best tapas bar in town. Approaching the bar I was predictably struck dumb by the Que Que from one of the many keepers of tapas ranged behind the teeming bar. To buy time I negotiated two manzanilla sherries whilst attempting to make some sort of order out of the cornucopia of tapas delights in front of me. The relief was short lived as the queen of tapas quizzed me further. I relented and asked for cuatro tapas Por Favor. She looked me square in the eye, we both knew I was copping out because of my lack of Spanish. The mayhem of tapas activity surrounding us both seemed to fade to a background hum, a decisive moment, I held my gaze, a brief smile from her and it was done. Without further ado she leapt on the surrounding customers, devouring their orders, but I was in there. She remembered. The wine appeared, whilst my back was turned so did the firsts tapas. The charming Basque gentleman was beside himself when I missed the call for the next two, and finally Ellen and I sat, glasses in hand facing a truly awesome taste delight. The combination of the place, the food, the people and the drink was intoxicating. (Bar Gaucho, Pamplona)
In my youth we had been led through a night of tapas and alcohol in Santander, by a willowy youthful girl who passed us on her bike as we were cycling the last few kilometers into the city. She taught us the depths to be had in a Spanish night out. In older age I can appreciate her enthusiasm. Drink, food and people are essential, but there is a slight edge, a rawness to the reality to be found here. The background throb of voices is building, it is palpable. It is exciting, not because it is violent or over the edge, but because it includes all, I am surrounded by babies, teenagers, youths and above all scary grannies (see photos). All of Pamplona is here, all are joining in and all are involved.
Sorry about the change of pace but I must take us back to late this afternoon. On the treck through the generally pleasant suburbs the camino shells suddenly took a detour. Looking back this almost looks deliberate. The view to the right was still suburban farmland, but to the left the vista altered dramatically. In my walker's soporific state I thought I was walking past one of those living green wall gardens. It was really a tall thin mossy tenement building, clothed in drying washing. It was quite startling to look at. Ahead we saw that the last few ground floor units had partially opened industrial garage doors. In England we may have expected some old cars being faithfully restored by their owners. As we passed we first heard the sound of a powerful guitar, and then the full scene. The garage was home to a family, dirt and potato peel covering the floor. A man leaning outside staring at us as he must have done countless pilgrims before. We are a river, rich pilgrims, never ending, and never minding. We walk by, he stares, nothing changes. I do not see him now in this place of wine and tapas. Where is he? Not even in the minds of the people around us.