Notes for a New Day will recount some rather older days during the next few months – journal entries from my pilgrimage on Spain’s camino in 2013.
Hard to know when anything, including a pilgrimage, actually begins. That moment when you go hmmm and nod your head with a slight tilt may be the actual start to any journey. In this case it’s the 9:30 train from Barcelona to Pamplona.
It was so easy to take Metro from our hotel to the train station, so easy to find our train and make our way to Pamplona. So easy for me to turn to my son as we exited the station and tell him that I had done all the planning up to this moment and that it was now up to him to find the camino. I was too eager to get started and we didn’t explore the famous narrow streets of Pamplona as much as we should have, because we soon found the first pilgrim’s scallop shell, which pointed us on our way.
We walked until 4:45, stopping to rest in the tiny village of Zariquiegui. The cold water fountain was a welcome sight after a very hot, uphill walk. Wonderful views of snow-capped mountains behind us, fields and many moments of absolute silence all around us. Our first buen camino was called out to us on the outskirts of Pamplona, but we saw only a few other pilgrims along the way.
Not much hope of having a place to stay in Zariquiegui, so it seemed to us, but we met an older French-speaking couple who were on their 54th day of walking! They said there was indeed an albergue just up the street, which had a room and we decided to stay. A quiet hour of reading, and smells of dinner in preparation.
Six courses! Soup, which tasted much better than the dishwater it resembled, beans, tomato and lettuce salad, fish stew, pork (we think…), flan and ice cream for dessert. All ten of us at the communal table were pleasantly surprised.
Moments of absolute silence and dinner with strangers who feel like friends. These seem like reasons enough to have come here.