Blisters and Mierda

Pamplona to Puente La Reina
Monday 3 November

I didn’t feel well when I woke. Not at all. We had to be out of the hostel by eight. My clothes had not dried overnight, and were dripping wet, that would add at least an extra kilogram to my bag. I miserably dragged myself to the cafe across the road, for coffee and breakfast. I couldn’t get moving. Our Dutch friend had left earlier, and our Irish farmer friend was going to the bus stop to take him for a flight to return to his sheep. He will be back to continue his Camino next spring. Our Canadian friend wanted to get on the road and start walking, and the other guys were going to hang around Pamplona for the day. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was sad that my Camino family was disbanding. I wanted to throw up.

My Braziilan friend and the Irish lad were going to go the the Cathedral for Mass. I decided to join them. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Catholic Mass. I am not Catholic, but was raised High Anglican, and the service is almost the same (Catholics will argue that the meaning of the sacrament is very different, but I digress). The liturgy was sung, and it was a comforting and familiar ritual, even if the language was one I didn’t understand. We pilgrims were noticed, and mentioned, and blessed by the priest and small congregation of about half a dozen old ladies. I always love the bit in church when you get to shake hands and wish peace upon the fellow parishioners. Peace, perhaps something I’m search for on my Camino.

After mass the guys were going to the post office to offload some unnecessary things. They tried to convince me to do the same. Unnecessary things. The coffee is better in Spain than in France, perhaps I don’t need my coffee maker anymore. Perhaps there are a few more unnecessary things in my overweight bag. I pulled out some bits and bobs and soon filled a box with two and a half kilos to send to the post restante in Santiago de Compostela.

We walked around town a bit more, taking in the sights, then decided to be on the way, rather late today as it was almost 2pm. We weren’t quite sure of the direction, so our Spanish speaking Brazilian friend asked a couple of old men, who ended up having a heated argument yelling and gesticulating in the street over which way we should go. It almost led to blows. It was funny, and very Spanish.

On the way out of town, we met a Spanish man, just beginning his Camino. He had very little English, and with my non existent Spanish we didn’t chat much. As we were leaving Pamplona, a van slowed down, and beeped. I thought it was just someone wishing the pilgrims well on their way, but the driver wound down the window, waving – it was our friend with the wine from the previous day. Apparently the Camino is know for this kind of magic and synchronicity. The Irish lad sped ahead, and our Brazilian friend was considering staying in Pamplona longer. He said he was tired of having to be in and out of hotels at given times. He said that that was not his idea of the road to freedom. The road to freedom. He stopped for a drink and said for us to continue, he may catch up. So it was just the Spanish man and I. I said I normally talk a lot, but as was feeling rather under the wether, was happy to be walking in silence, but with company.

I thought I had something in my shoe, as after a while it was feeling like sandpaper was rubbing the soles of my feet. Be kind. Listen. So I listened to my feet, and decided to be kind to them, and sit down and see what the problem was. Blisters! Blisters on the soles of my feet. I don’t get blisters. I then realised that I’d sat in what I later learnt the Spanish call Mierda. Mierda! Bugger! Bloody Heck! It was all over my pack, and all over my boots. Mierda! The Spanish man helped me clean it up, and told me that in Spain it’s considered good luck. Probably considered good luck as nothing worse could happen to you that day! We laughed, and continued.

I was feeing sad and contemplative, the result partly of been hungover, and loss of my chatty companions. It was overcast and very windy, but the scenery was magnificent as we claimed a long hill dotted with windmills. The howling wind soon turned to rain, and we zipped up our jackets and marched towards Puente La Reina.

It was dark and still raining heavily by the time we arrived, and we continued on through the town, looking for a hostel. We reached the other end of town, then asked directions – we had passed several, so returned to find a very nice one at the beginning of town. We were given to key to our room, to find that the only other guest was our young Irish friend. It was a lovely room with three bunks, our own private attached bathroom, and a TV – the boys could watch football, and I could have a peaceful nights sleep!

Dinner was served in half an hour, and I ordered salad, duck and creme caramel, as usual wine, bread and water were included. Great value for 13€. Our Spanish friend left for bed, and the young Irish lad and I continued our conversation. He told me a very sad story of a friend who had recently committed suicide, and that he was going to stay with her parents in New York after his Camino. He is a lovely gentle and considerate soul, I am very much enjoying his company as we walk, as I am with everyone I meet here. There is something about the Camino, I see why it has repeat customers.

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