Day 2 (April 6, 2019): from Roncevalles to Larrasoaña. 29 kilometers (18 miles)
I can’t begin to do justice to this day. Can’t even begin. It’s already lights-out time, but the particular albergue where we’re staying in this very small town has a lovely lounge and great internet. Would love to be expansive, but… well, after the longest walking day of my life, the “lights out” idea sounds pretty appealing.
So… I’ll just have to give you a few highlights of this splendid day in a quick and dirty format. Here goes.
- Picture this: heading out at 7:20 am (20 or so minutes before sunrise) into the fresh-fallen snow (about a quarter of an inch, and still falling, but without much conviction). It was very still. No wind. Warming. Quiet. Beyond lovely. Were the chirping birds greeting us, the snow, or just the new day? It was truly magical as we walked through some lovely woods. Pine trees. Lots of holly trees. You had to be there!
- Breakfast a couple of miles down the road. Yogurt and half an egg sandwich (tortilla española). 2 euros each.
- In the distance: misty vistas, clouds concealing the hilltops; in the forefront: horses with bells, a couple of colts taking nourishment from mama. Nothing if not bucolic!
- No walking on the road today. All pathway. Challenging walking, even if today’s “190 floors” (Fitbit doesn’t lie) hardly compare to yesterday’s 424. (I’m telling you, yesterday was a “bugger,” its difficulties being a big part of people’s conversations today.
- Sharing the trail with Jorge and Adriana from Brazil, Julio from Spain, Mike from Ireland, Al from Korea, what was his name from Mexico…. and others. Re the couple from Brazil: I was delighted to realize that I could understand most of what they said to me in Portuguese while they followed the questions, comments, answers that I gave them in Spanish.
- We are in the most lovely private albergue tonight. We’ve only met Vanessa, the sweetest and most enthusiastic hostess who bends over to accommodate. She and her husband just opened this place two months ago and they sure seem to be doing things right. 15 euros covers a bed and a breakfast in the morning; for an extra 5 euros Vanessa washed and dried our clothes. She’s definitely the right kind of person for this business.
- Here’s the clincher of the day. Being disappointed by the meal offered at the town’s only bar/eating establishment, I went to the “supermercado” which at first did not seem at all super. It had very few shelves; more like the kind of store you’d find at a campground. But I kept looking around and trying to use my imagination. I remembered that our hostess had pointed out a microwave in the lounge of our albergue which we were free to use. Before long I had placed on the counter: a loaf of “French” bread (you know what I mean), a bottle of wine, a shrink-wrapped whole chicken, pre-cooked, a bag of salad lettuce, a frozen box of risotto and a couple of items for tomorrow’s lunch. I asked the grocer if he could open the wine for me, and, when he asked, told him where we were staying. I told him that I sure hoped our albergue had some plates and silverware, to which he replied (translation mine):
- “For how many people is this meal?”
- “Three,” I told him
- “You come here for dinner. I heat it all up for you. I reserve that table there (one of two in the small store). I have it all ready at 6:30. You come on time.”
- And so we did. He seemed to happy to do this for us. When we arrived back at 6:30, the table was set, the salad and a bit of bread (the rest he knew we wanted for our lunches tomorrow) at the ready. Promptly he brought out the chicken and the risotto.
- Wow! Best meal ever! (A good third of that chicken is in reserve in the albergue’s refrigerator; along with the remaining loaf of bread and some sliced cheese; it will be our lunch tomorrow.
Everything happens for a reason (maybe…) and so in the end we decided that we shouldn’t complain, but still…. We were given a list of hostels, albergues, pensiones, refugios, and so on. Those of us–and this includes most of us–wanting to do the Camino “on the cheap” hope to find shelter in the municipal or church-run hostels. Well, both the town we ended up in tonight and the town prior to this one (Zubiri) have the low-priced places, one holding 44 pilgrims and the other 36. Ah, but only when they are not being renovated as is the case at present. Result: a lot of pilgrims looking for a place to stay, only to find “no room in the inn.” Barb and I arrived about an hour before Ginny, found two spots in one albergue and we were scrambling to find a spot for Ginny who had let us know she was on her way. Ah, and then we learned that she happened to be walking with an Irish gent named Martin. (I had encountered Martin earlier in the day when I spent a good 15 minutes walking not all that many paces in front of him and his at-the-time walking partner. His brogue was to die for! Stories weren’t bad either, for that matter.)
But then the problem was: we needed to find a spot for Ginny and Martin… and we considered ourselves lucky to find the last room in the town. Here’s the conversation I had with the innkeeper (over the phone, mind you, in Spanish, translated here for your reading pleasure):
Says I: “Yes, I’d like to take that room you mentioned earlier, the room for two with the private bath. For my friends.”
“Oh, a married couple, is it, then?”
Pause on my part.
“Oh,” he replied, with a I-know-all-about-that-sort-of-thing attitude.
“Well, no, not like that,” I explain; “they just met a little over an hour ago.”
Pause, this time on the innkeeper’s part.
We have roared with laughter over this arrangement. Martin, jokester that he seems to be, immediately wanted to get his picture taken with Ginny so he could send it to his wife. (To his credit, he wanted me to capture the fact that the room had two beds.)
The Camino is like this! What might be so unnatural under other circumstances just rolls right off you. (Barb and I share a bunk-bed style room tonight with five males. I wouldn’t know them if I saw them on the trail tomorrow.)
Not much of a “lowlight,” actually, is it?
If it could be said that there was another “low” to the day, perhaps these: 1) mostly it was a rain-free day, until shortly before reaching our destination. Then, while we were looking for lodging, the rain picked up; 2) the only bar in town is where “pilgrim meals” are served. When I stopped in to make reservations for us there, I was told that they really weren’t preparing them tonight, that there would be just bocadillos (the iconic short loaf of crusty bread with a piece of cheese inside, and maybe a piece of ham). Really? After walking more than 18 miles? But you read above how our dinner turned out, so again, a low turned into a highlight.
Want to see some photos from yesterday and today? Hop on over to Instagram (katys.camino) or to Facebook (Katy’s Camino). I’ll try to add a couple at the end here. Perhaps tonight’s internet will cooperate more than last night’s.