Last night was my first ever night in a hostel. As I mentioned yesterday, the place was spotless and very modern. There were 36 sets of bunk beds divided into two rows of the floor we were on. There were 4 floors of beds. So a fairly large place. Because of the sheer number of people, it was noisy until just after 10 pm. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but I laid down to go to sleep about 9. My efforts were fruitless. So i read for about 45 minutes, and started dozing off. I awoke about 30 minutes later to a sympathy of snores. It was rather entertaining, until it wasn’t. I slept on and off awaking every other hour to some form of loud noise. Never identifiable of course.
We planned to start walking around 6:15. As we discovered, that is remarkably late. I woke at 4:15 to people packing their gear and generally rustling about. Most of the floor we were on was vacant by 5:45.
Another pilgrim, Adam from Hungary, we had met in the village of St Jean was invited to join us. He agreed and said he would meet us at 6:15. By 6:00 the three of us were packed and ready to go.
Molli and I are cut from the same cloth in many regards. When we say 6:15, we are walking out the door at 6:15. 6:15 arrived and Adam was no where to be seen. Tony did a quick walk around of the immediate area, and he was no where to be seen. We headed out. Our planned mileage for the day was just shy of 13 miles. We agreed if we were feeling ambitious we would push on another 3 miles.
We were all a little sore this morning, but nothing unreasonable. We made great time the first hour or so due to the terrain being a gradual descent. I had great cell signal so I caught up with Brian and Austin at home. I also had welcome messages from my mom, Keith and Tate. It’s always good to get notes from home.
We were over taken and passed hikers all during the hike. We always exchange good morning, or “Buen Camino”. Along the way, some people engage in conversation deeper than simply hello. It’s always fascinating to hear people’s story and how they ended up here.
Around 9, we came along a cafe where many people stopped for breakfast. I was the only one who ate anything substantial this morning, and that consisted of a small sandwich and a hard boiled egg. Not exactly a filling meal when you are burning close to 4000 calories a day. Hungry, we stopped and had something that I would describe as a Spanish quiche. It was delicious. Molli and I also both enjoyed an Americano.
With the early mornings and lack sleep, I’ve taken to one caffeinated beverage in the morning. It provides a nice boost, and thus far haven’t encountered my normal side effect of caffeine; a tremendous amount of anxiety. I suspect this is due to the volume of physical activity. The exercise simply burns off the caffeine quickly without the negative effect.
We ate and rested for roughly 20 minutes. I have begun falling into the same routines I had on the PCT. When I stop for anything longer than 5 minutes, my socks and shoes come off. This allows the perspiration on my socks and feet to dry. This is a very effective strategy for limiting blisters. By allowing your feet to cool off and dry, you are removing two of the three components required to blister; heat and moisture.
We refilled our water bottles and set back out. We were a little more than half way to Zubiri at this point, which was our intended stop for the day. Having eaten and amped ourselves up with coffee, both Molli and I became chatter boxes. We paired off in differing combinations for the remainder of the hike.
About 3 miles from our destination, Molli made a friend. I will call her Atlanta, simply because I don’t remember her name, but I remember she is from Atlanta. As with any hiking expedition, people get nicknames. It’s often difficult remember their real name, so you give them a nickname of meaning to you or your group. The person may never know this nickname, but its most helpful when talking amongst yourselves as everyone knows who you are talking about. Atlanta is early 30’s and competed in her first triathlon this year. So of course, her and Molli bonded instantly.
Atlanta has a couple of close friends that all made a deal. Each of the friends were to pick an activity they wanted to do as a group and the other friends weren’t allowed to say no. This ended up being how she did the triathlon. What a great idea! Talk about a unique way to step out of your comfort zone and do something you might not otherwise do.
While Molli bonded with Atlanta, Tony and I made conversation on a variety of subjects. Past lives, religion, philosophy and just the general way of being and living. Tony is really the person who reinforced the idea of “living intentionally” to me. Living life on autopilot is an easy way to live, but often very unfulfilling. Conversations with Tony are never boring and always provide me with a ton of insight and subjects to ponder.
We arrived in Zubiri shortly before noon. I could feel a couple of hotspots developing on my feet, so I told them I needed to sit and let my dry and rest for a few minutes. I could feel they wanted to continue. Unusual for Tony, he remarked, “It’s only noon, we should keep walking.”
Molli made a similar comment. I didn’t show my reluctance, but said if we ate and rested for a few we could push on to the next town. After Molli sat down, and pulled off her socks, she immediately noticed a huge blister on her pinky toe. This made the decision whether we would hike any more. The Camino is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes it takes huge neon signs, in this case a huge blister, to reinforce to us that we need to slow down and enjoy the town.
We found a beautiful hostel to stay in called Rio Arga. The place is practically brand new and very small. they have a total of 12 beds. The three of us secured a room that has 2 sets of bunkbeds and its own private bathroom. The best part, it only cost 15 euro. My reluctance of staying at hostels has completely disappeared. I understand not all hostels are this nice, but for now, I’m completely content living the sweet life. The proprieter was most gracious. Hospitality at its finest.
After checking in, we make our way to a cafe to enjoy lunch. Molli and I both indulge in paella that was most delicious. The seafood tasted as if it had been caught this morning.
From there, we grabbed a couple of beers and headed down to the river next to our hostel to soak our feet. We lounged and soaked for close to 2 hours. Other pilgrims joined and one had the gumption to jump in. The water was quite cold, but within minutes there were 7 people swimming. One female pilgrim, stripped down to the buff and took the plunge. Carefree living! Shortly after Molli and Tony took the plunge. It was nothing short of an amazing afternoon. To think, had we pushed on, we likely wouldn’t have had this experience.
Another lesson. Slow down and enjoy the now. A remarkable day.
One of the pilgrims we met named Tyran is hiking the Camino to raise money. His closest friend in Australia had a son born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. If you are interested in reading his story or donating please visit: https://www.facebook.com/MacksattackagainstSMA
Today, we listen to the rush of the river, shared laughter with friends and strangers, and enjoy a cold beer.
PS. Pictures are going to be rare. WordPress on the iPhone just isn’t picture friendly. Or at least it’s smarter than me. But for now here are a few…
Our hostel to the river.
Molli’s first blister. It’s gnarly. I have taped it up. Lets hope the tape job works well.
Fellow pilgrims enjoy a brisk swim in the river. Tyran is the bearded gentleman in the middle. He’s raising money for his friend.
Paella and beer. Perfecto!!
Cemetary along the way.
Horses enjoying a drink from the river. And the view from our hostel.