Homer's Travels: Camino De Santiago - Pamplona To Puente La Reina

Monday, August 15, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Pamplona To Puente La Reina

Note: Someone asked me recently if I took notes along the Camino and if I was using those notes to write these posts.  I did keep a written journal but it was far from complete.  Most of these posts are from memory aided by my pictures, my GPS tracks, and the few sparse journal notes I made at the end of each day.

I got up and, ignoring the protestations of the noisy Italian couple, suited up and headed out the door.  I followed the metal shells embedded in the streets and sidewalks out of the city making only one minor error (went straight instead of right for about 30 ft).  The markers led me out of town to the next town of Cizur Menor.  This is where most of the people I'd met in Zubiri had stopped the night before.

After Cizur Menor the Camino headed for the dreaded Alto de Perdón (Forgiveness Heights).  I did pretty well.  I passed a few pilgrims.  A few pilgrims passed me.  I huffed and puffed and I made it up to the top.  I took off my pack and rested near the monument at the top of the ridge and admired the pilgrim sculptures.  I decided that I had to have proof that I was actually in Spain so I recruited another pilgrim to take my picture (Those who are my Facebook friends may have already seen it.).

I then made the mistake of buying a Coke and chugging it.  I bloated up like a balloon on the steep descent down from the Alto de Perdón.  Felt pretty disgusting.  Serves me right.  It turned out to be a pretty hot day and a fairly long leg.  I reached my planned stopping point, Uterga, and decided that it was too early to stop and I would rather try to get to Puente La Reina.

By the time I got to the next town, Muruzábal,  I was questioning my judgment a bit.  I sat on a bench.  Watched a tiny mole walk through the grass before finding its hole.  I pulled some food out of my pack and ate one of the muffins I'd bought in Pamplona.  A dog payed me a visit ... or rather payed my muffin a visit.  I felt my energy pick up a little and I walked on.

I walked on until I hit the hill going into the town of Obanos.  It wasn't a very long hill but in the state I was in it could have been Everest.  Just when I was about to stop a man came along side me and asked where I was from.  We chatted a little.  I didn't ask his name at the time but I would find out later his name was MA.  He was from France and had started walking from his home in Paris.  He urged me on and before I knew it the hill was behind me.  We walked together, more or less, from Obanos to Puente La Reina.  This was one of those exceptional times I mentioned when walking with people helped.

We passed a group of Korean children carrying packs that were larger then they were.  Frankly, MA and I were pissed off when we saw this little guy walking alone with two packs with no adults in sight.  We did eventually pass an adult heading back for the boy.

Puente La Reina turned out to be a place of reunions.  First it was GV.  Next, to my surprise, were KV and MC.  Turns out they took a couple half days to recuperate from knee issues which allowed me to catch up to them.  They were not stopping in Puente La Reina but we did exchange stories before they moved on.  They told me about this California girl who'd linked up with some Dutch guys (who had walked from their homes in the Netherlands) and had had some bad foot problems.  I said my goodbyes and went to the albergue where I ran into DO and EN.  It was really nice to be around people that I 'knew'.

It's fun watching people who may have met each other the day before greet each other as if they were lifelong friends - Smiles and hugs all around.  There's something about the Camino.  Once you make a connection, friendships form fast.  I guess it's the relatively short period of time you have to make friends and the need to make connections that accelerate the formation of friendships.

After getting clean I went out with GV to look for a grocery store.  After walking around a bit we were unsuccessful but we did see most of the town.  (I would find the grocery store later in the day and would buy some of the softest French bread I would find on the Camino.)  On the other side of the town was a bridge (the town's namesake) over the river Arga built in the early 11th century by the Queen for the pilgrims.  Across from the albergue was a Knights Templar Church (my first) with storks nesting on the bell tower (also my first).  During this bout of tourism I noticed a nagging little pain in my right ankle.

Tendonitis.  Damn painful at times.  It started in Puente La Reina and would dog me for another nine days, more if you include the tendonitis that developed later in my left ankle.  But I get ahead of myself.

I finally got tired of walking around the town and headed back to the albergue.  I ran into DO and he invited me to a dinner being made by a Hungarian couple.  I accepted the invitation though I felt odd accepting an invitation to someone else's dinner.  I guess it was okay as one of the Hungarians was there and he didn't seem to object.

On the door of the albergue was a hand drawn sign advertising a show put on my the Korean children we'd seen earlier.  At 6:00 PM we heard the banging of drums and all the pilgrims poured out of the albergue into the yard.  The Korean kids, aged nine to lower teens, were all in costume, playing instruments, singing, and dancing.  I wished I'd that much energy.  I don't even remember having that much energy when I was their ages.  The kids turned out to be a traveling show/school traveling the world for eleven months (They had been in the main room of the albergue eating a communal meal and doing their lessons before the performance).  After finishing the Camino they were going to Turkey for a month.  Me, in Puente La Reina, watching Korean kids perform ... how bizarre is that?!?

Later that night I sat down to dinner with four Italians (DO and EN being two of them), four Norwegians, and our two Hungarian hosts.  They served a spicy meat and potato dish that was quite good.  Our Hungarian hosts turned out to be really nice people.  Our Caminos, along with those of the Norwegians, would parallel each other for a while.

The Spaniard, the one I met when I left Roncesvalles, also showed up at Puente La Reina.  Sadly he disappeared.  What I heard was he was sick and had to go home.  The nightmare of all pilgrims, I would think.

Day four was behind me.  My 40 day plan was becoming more irrelevant as my Camino progressed.  This gave my adventure a welcome dash of spontaneity.  Onward ... into the unknown.

Total Distance: 15.16 Miles (24.39 km)
Total Time: 5 hours 52 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,924 ft (586.44 m)
Total Elevation Down: 2,184 ft (665.68 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]


  1. That's awesome that you already had this little pilgrim family forming!

  2. Miss McC: The pilgrim family is what made the Camino so special for me.