Oh, the luxury of lying in my bunk and watching the other pilgrims scramble to get on the road. It was a sweet compensation for the deprivations that come with sleeping in a dormitory of forty, in an alberque catering for 100 plus pilgrims.
It was raining again this morning, persistently and heavily, and our eager companions set off decked out with pack covers, ponchos or raincoats, some of them had water-proof leggings. Most of them were on the road by 7:00 am, it was still dark when they left.
Without all that energy the dorm seemed grim, if peaceful, when we had it to our selves.
Many were walking to Pamplona – twenty kilometres; they’re following the stages outlined in the John Brierley guide. We’re using it as a reference point but we’re making up our own stages according to energy and interest.
I did feel a little self indulgent, okay down right lazy, whenever I confessed to our grand aim of five kilometres. But not so much that I was inclined to join them. Not today, it’s Sunday – a day of rest, right?
Our sleep-in didn’t last long, we were only an hour behind them. And we had the benefit of a much quieter path, shared with others also inclined to take their time.
Somehow we managed to make our five kilometre walk last nearly four hours. It did involve a breakfast stop, and then a rest stop, and a few photo stops, despite the rain.
Confession time: When we arrived at Illaratz I thought our walking was done for the day. Not that it was a hardship to continue – this part of the walk is beautiful.
Our accommodation tonight in Larrasoana is much more salubrious. The alberque San Nicolas (we chose it because we knew we’d easily remember its name!) is new; there’s plenty of hot water, and a very efficient washing machine and drier. Everything is clean and dry again – bliss. Our room is light and airy, we are sharing with one other couple – they’re from Denmark.
I’ve been writing this sitting in a family owned bar along the road.
The family – three generations – are eating their Sunday midday meal, it’s 4:00pm, and serving their patrons as needed. They’ve been fielding enquiries from multiple pilgrims looking for a bed for the night.
And that’s the reality of the Camino.
Last night a manager at one of the Alberques advised us to book ahead each day to be sure of getting a bed, especially during September. It’s not how we intended to do things but it does beat having to walk on. Those turned away this afternoon might have to walk as far as Pamplona (another 15ks) before finding somewhere to rest. That, or catch a taxi.
Tomorrow we’re planning to walk 20ks to Pamplona and then on to Cizur Menor. We’ve made our booking. The forecast is for sunshine.