Day 5 (May 14) Pamplona to Urtega
We spent the early morning checking out Pamplona. Did a quick pass by the bull ring. Not much to see without the bulls in action. Then we joined a mass at the Catedral Santa Maria, where we took the time to reflect and pray. Lots to pray for in this world.
Afterward, we moved on to the Plaza de Castilla and the Cafe Iruna, where Hemingway held court while working on The Sun Also Rises. I could just see him, sitting at the bar with a whiskey, smoking, and arguing about life, love and death.
We hit the trail in good spirits and under sunny skies. Our goal for today was to slow John’s pace to keep his inflamed calf from developing into disabling tendinitis. I tried taking the lead. That worked for a while, but not completely, as he loves a race, even if it is against himself. Note today’s photo, John looking good with the sticks.
We stopped for lunch at a cafe in a mountain village where we met a young Canadian woman named Rebecca. We shared our lunch with her as she told us her story. I asked her if she walked fast on the trail. She answered, “not any more!”, then went on to explain about tendonitis that had sent her to the hospital in Pamplona. They told her that she had to take 5 days off for recovery. The cause of her injury, she explained, was walking too fast on the downhill sections of the Pyrenees. Hmm…I think I know someone else who did that. My technique involved supporting my weight with walking sticks and zigzagging all the way down. A very tedious process. John took the direct route, which cost him. Today, we were very careful and slow, reducing our travel to 10 miles in 5.5 hours. It was 4 hours of straight uphill, then 1.5 down, but it was a beautiful walk through brilliant fields of waving wheat. We marveled over the great swaths of unspoiled countryside.
The route peaked at the Alto de Perdon, the Mountain of Forgiveness. I was happy to see a whole mountain of it and planned to carve off a small sliver of forgiveness for myself. On this trip I hope to leave behind my own guilt for Sam’s pain and his tragic end. At this inspiring viewpoint with its iron sculpture of pilgrims, it does seem possible. Dinner was at our albergue, a hostel, but with a private room. Neither of us could face a room full of snoring strangers tonight.
We shared a table with a lively group of German ladies, who unanimously told us that the best city in Germany to visit was Hamburg. Who knew? Guess we need to put that on the list.