I awoke early to find everyone suiting up for the rain. It was cold and damp and had been raining all night. Everyone seemed resigned to a day of walking in the rain.
The happiness of walking in Spain had been tempered by the wet. I was feeling quite low, tired and lonely. Perhaps the exertion and tiredness from climbing over the Pyrenees was catching up. Continuing on was the only choice as you were not allowed to stay more than one night in a pilgrim albergue in Spain. Only a medical certificate would let you do that. Other albergues in the same village would see the Credencial stamp from the night before and also refuse entry. There was no choice but to continue to Pamplona.
After a few kilometres the initial effort of an early start paid off and spirits rose. The path was generally good but very muddy in places. I took a shortcut through a closed off section of the path. A short distance ahead the reason it was closed could be seen – the whole slope had subsided into the river far below. I picked my way carefully along the eroded cliff edge. I was lucky not to have slipped down the steep slope into the river.
It was only 14 kilometres to Pamplona. There was a huge wedding disgorging people from the main church. There was laughter and joy. I walked around marvelling at the narrow streets where every year many risked their lives to run in front running bulls. Later I met an Irish man in a bar and we chatted over a glass of wonderful Rioja wine as the rain poured down outside. He had lived in Pamplona for sixteen years and loved it. He told me of the good food and the people bright and lively in the embrace of their good life. His wife and daughter arrived and we chatted for some time. The bar owner (originally from New York) offered us another glass of Rioja, on the house. I was really beginning to enjoy Spain!
I was directed to the Albergue Jesus y Maria which sounded quite a strict religious albergue. In fact it was very large, clean and modern with great facilities. Fellow walkers busied themselves cooking or doing their washing in preparation for the next day. The kitchen above the dormitory was where I met with Pascal and Bernard again and a new face Jérôme. We pooled our pasta and other foodstuffs and came up with a surprisingly good meal, washed down with some more fine Rioja of course!
Later I met John from Toronto again. I asked him about his profession and was surprised to find out that he did not have one and did not need to work again. He avoided the question when I asked about his good fortune. He did however carry out art projects. His most recent one involved ‘deconstructing’ the Wagner’s Ring operas using statistics and mathematics. Further explanation revealed that he had come to a conclusion. He explained that he had deconstructed Wagner’s Ring into 148 rectangles and 37 colours. I left it there with my questioning!
Later in the evening there was street theatre and music nearby. There was a demonstration by young people protesting about the high cost of housing and the difficulty of young to find a place to stay. There was also a festival of South American music in a nearby pelota court. A Cuban singer was impressive in his enthusiasm and dance moves. Sudden exhaustion took over as the dancers energy made me feel very tired. I returned to the albergue for a good night’s sleep.