Day 3, Oct 1: Arre through Pamplona to Obanos, 15.8mi

I am using the John Brierly “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” as my guidebook, as it came highly recommended.  It is very useful and I reference it multiple times a day.  It sometimes gives options for routes off the main Camino, which always merge into the main route eventually.  They offer some different views and sometimes allow you to not walk on main roads and instead experience a more peaceful trail.  Today I decided I would take a very short section off the main Camino (remember, the main one is extremely well-marked with signs and yellow arrows), and follow one of the “green” routes which involves less traffic and more, well, greenery I guess.  I ended up trying to find my way back to the main route by asking two older ladies who were apparently on their morning fitness walk togehter.  They were very kind, friendly, and did not help me at all because they spoke so fast and they kept interrupting each other to argue which way was better and what road went where…it was highly amusing and in the end I thanked them profusely and then turned around and walked back in exactly the opposite direction from which I had just come, so I could find my precious yellow arrows (flechas amarillas) and ended up taking the main route into Pamplona.  My sense of direction is not great, already, so I have decided that while walking alone I will not test it with Mr. Brierly’s “greener” route suggestions.  I am seeing plenty of beautiful landscape and don’t need to retrace any steps again, if possible!

On the way in to the city, I began walking behind a tiny nun.  She was probably around 4’8″, and she was dragging a trash can.  In Spanish, I asked her if I could help.  She pointed to a nearby dumpster and asked me to step on the bar at the bottom to raise the lid while she put the trash in.  I commented that there were many bags, and she said she works at a “casa de ancianos” (nursing home).  Likely with overly-necessary enthusiasm, I told her “I ALSO work at a Casa de Ancianos as well!!” (in Spanish)  She smiled and thanked me, and I savored our little connection.

Pamplona was such a fun city to walk through.  I was happy to take my time and dillly dally around the main square, stop into a Panaderia (bakery) that caught my eye and buy a few of the best gallettas (cookies) I’ve ever had, and then a cheese shop later, purchasing a hunk of a lovely mild white  ”Garcia Barquete” for only one euro.

Once within the city limits, I also noticed quite a few elderly people being wheeled around in wheelchairs; likely out for outings or walks with their care partners.  It was a nice sight to see, and certainly makes my  heart happy to see the elderly being treated well and out and about, in this country.  I miss all of you, at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community!

One more “old person” story – I saw a line of elderly gentlemen sitting on a bench and went over to ask them for directions to the cathedral I wanted to visit.  As I approached, I saw that there were about 10 of them, all sitting extremely close to each other, where there were tens of yards of bench-space to the side of them, but they were content to be cozy with their friends, observing the people coming and going in the square.  I just love people!  Makes me happy to see the curiosities of behavior, especially outside my own city and country limits.  I think many other cultures don’t have the “personal space” issue that we Americans have.

Out of Pamplona was a climb up to a famous iron monument to pilgrims at the top of Alto de Perdon (altitude 790m), overlooking and on a nearby ridge to many huge wind turbines.  It was a very cool place, felt sacred and special.  It was also very windy!

I decended into a beautiful area of vineyards and open fields, amidst rolling hills.  It was quite warm, and my feet were getting very sore from the rocky path coming down from the monument.  It was a good time to practice gratidute and remain patient with myself and my setting.  I decided not to push too far and stop in a tiny town called Obanos.  I’m so glad I did because it was a clean, simple Albergue with a quiet kind man named Juan who checked me in and took my laundry when I asked about facilities.  It cost 3 euros for wash, and 2 for the drier.  I definitely wanted them dried, because it was after 6pm and would be too late for them to dry out on their own (all these places have clotheslines so you don’t necessarily need a “secadora” but when it’s late in the day, you do).  It was totally worth it, and he even took them and hand-delivered them back to me after dinner.  5 euros for personal laundry service AND clothes that smelled better than…something terrible!  These simple things are making me very  happy.  The toilet didn’t work, but I didnt get upset up about it, I had clean clothes and a bottom bunk!  AND, my French hiking friend Florence poked her head around the door and we exclaimed YAY!  You never know when youll see someone again, if they take a different route, slow down or speed up, or simply stop their journey.

That night’s dinner was at a local place with a simple sign out front that said “Bar Menu”.  It was a bar…with a dinner menu, so they were just being up-front!  I had a glass of wine and olives and tried to make the wifi work (it didn’t) while I waited for the 7:30pm family-style Pilgrim’s meal.  So far this is one of my best experiences because there were about 10 of us around the table, from France to Denmark (an 81-year old and his slightly younger friend-  amazing), to Germany, to Basque country (northern coastal Spain), to US.  Some of us spoke overlapping languages, and sometimes we limped along in elementary conversations but we all tried, we all connected, we all shared wine and bread and a hearty home-made meal and it was wonderful.

One of the very obvious Camino signs, upon entering Pamplona.  Many signs are simple painted arrows, and others are tiles or artistic signs.

One of the very obvious Camino signs, upon entering Pamplona. Many signs are simple painted arrows, and others are tiles or artistic signs.

Plaza de Castillo, a main square in Pamplona.  You can see the line of older gentlemen I asked directions from in the bottom right.  After I took this photo, about 5 more joined them and snuggled in!
Plaza de Castillo, a main square in Pamplona. You can see the line of older gentlemen I asked directions from in the bottom right. After I took this photo, about 5 more joined them and snuggled in!

Beautiful and delicious macrons - I bought a chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio.

Beautiful and delicious macrons – I bought a chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio.

A tilled but unplanted field...so much of the way is dirt path that goes along vineyards or fields or tranquil open space.  The landscape is beautiful with a variety of colors and textures.

A tilled but unplanted field…so much of the way is dirt path that goes along vineyards or fields or tranquil open space. The landscape is beautiful with a variety of colors and textures.

Me standing by the pilgrim's monument with wind turbines in the background.

Me standing by the pilgrim’s monument with wind turbines in the background.

Flecha Amarilla - gracias a Dio para estas (Thank God for those)!

Flecha Amarilla – gracias a Dios para estas (Thank God for those)!

Waiting for the Pilgrim's meal to start.  Wine is plentiful in this area; I purchased this glass at the bar but wine is served with every Pilgrim's meal (and many regular meals) at no extra cost.

Waiting for the Pilgrim’s meal to start. Wine is plentiful in this area; I purchased this glass at the bar but wine is served with every Pilgrim’s meal (and many regular meals) at no extra cost.

 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.