[Trash and graffiti]
Route: Zubiri to Pamplona
One if the criticisms of The Camino is that the scenery gets monotonous. I get what the critics mean, but at the same time, I feel that we have experienced three distinct themes: Our first day was pastoral mountain pass, yesterday was over the river and through the woods (and down too many f-ing hills), and today was a weird mix of edgy industrialization plus wildflower hike. We hiked through some pretty desolate, zombie apocalypse type areas – concrete structures littered with trash and graffiti – but then also beautiful trails filled with blossoming flowers. In fact, we crossed paths several times with some American botany enthusiasts, who were collecting flowers along the way and comparing them to their cousins in the United States.
If yesterday was characterized by pain, suffering and austerity, today began with both of us in a better, more light-hearted mood. Conversation ranged from Ayurvedic doshas to American health care to the education of future generations (can you tell who was starting the conversations?) and the woes of sleeping on the top bunk in a room full of snorers. We also discussed yesterday’s mistakes and made strategies for today. We agreed to stop and eat every 2h, and if yesterday we bore our burdens in silence, today we communicated every imperfection (rock in the shoe, pack that needed adjusting, hunger, thirst, the need for a bathroom break, heat, cold, rain, pain). The rest of my body is still stiff and sore, but by the end of the day it was my feet that were unbearable. We arrived in the hip city of Pamplona, where I had a mini breakdown and limped the rest of the way to our hotel. Twenty minutes of soaking my feet in ice water and half a bottle of wine later and I’m still not ready to walk, but I’m trusting that eventually hunger will force me to my feet again.