Monday, 16 September 2013

New paths

There were to be more discouragements! Before we reached Larrosana I had suggested to Hubert that we have a good lunch. When we arrived nothing was open. I said that I would meet him later and went off in search of my lodgings. Of course they were closed!  I dropped my rucksack in the porch and wandered over to a nearby shop. I asked the proprietor where I could get lunch. He said it was possible at the bar. I noticed that he had a good selection of food and he said that he could microwave anything for me. I chose meatballs, a tomato, and some fruit. He brought olive oil for the tomato. I also bought a deliciously fresh loaf of bread and tucked in. Before I had finished Paul from London turned up. I asked him about the night at Roncesvalles. He said that the food was dreadful, the dormitory noisy. But he added: there was a moment which reminded me why I am doing the Camino. He related how, tired, he was sitting in the Abbey church and a choir was singing. It was wonderful he said.
Eventually I wandered back to my lodgings which were still closed. A man from Brasilia called Alberto turned up and we chatted for a while. Finally the owner of the Gite came along. He asked me if I was part of the party of three. I said that I was on my own. He immediately showed me to a room with two single beds . When I went back down a lady had arrived who spoke little Spanish. I helped her with the man who told her that it was 20 euros in a room for 4! When I asked him the cost of my room it was an eye watering 40euros. Nowhere in France had I come across such blatant exploitation of the pilgrims. In the shower I wondered if he had made a mistake. Remembering my experience in France I went to check. He said that there was no mistake he assumed that I wanted my own room!
Having organised myself I went to find Hubert. Again he had had problems with his lodgings. He had ended up in the communal gite. We had a drink and arranged to meet at 7.00am. I am worried about Hubert. Firstly he doesn't speak a word of Spanish. Secondly he looks very tired. Pierre had commented on this last week.
I returned to my room to read the Psalms. I had decided to have supper in the Gite. Around 6,30 I went down to the kitchen. I was getting things ready when a Canadian came in to chat. I discovered that he is 83 years old. His wife Elizabeth came in and she said that she felt that they had been ripped off. What can you do she said when it is late and you are tired. You are the first good thing that has happened to us since we arrived in the village she said. Later they asked me what I did. When I said that I was a priest the husband said I thought so!
After supper I read the Journey of the Magi and Choruses from the Rock. I chuckled when Eliot has the Magi complaining about the high prices. I slept well and set out just before 7.Both yesterday and today I have noticed that it is getting very cold in the mornings. Hubert and I had a coffee and set off. He seemed to set a slow pace from the outset reinforcing my fear that he is very tired. As we entered a wood the sky was gloriously coloured. Later on I could see a lovely Romanesque church on a hill to the right. We came to a village and a similar church was firmly locked. A little way down there was a sign to the Ermita de San Esteban abierto. Having plenty of time I decided to follow the detour. When I arrived the church was locked but there was a notice saying where you could get the key. Initially I found myself in a lovely Auberge and then I went to the door of a small convent. The nun was thrilled to see me and wondered if I would like to say mass. I said that I would do so if there were any people. Sadly she said that they had all gone. I went into the chapel and read the gospel of the day- the curing of the centurions servant. She said that it was a pity that I couldn't stay the night. I reflected that it would not have cost 40euros. I also realised that it would be good to seek out places like this.
Shortly after I left Pamplona came into view. Spanish cities are like oases in the desert. You can often see right across the.This was certainly the case and I could see where I would be tomorrow. I reflected that part of my downbeat mood was the consequence of the departure of Raphael, Isabel and Pierre. I realised that I have to look forwards and not back.
Because of my detour I caught up with Hubert as we entered the outskirts of Pamplona. I suggested that we have a coffee when we were joined by a very chatty Spaniard. He insisted on directing us and giving a commentary as we went along. Finally at the Magdalene bridge he insisted that he took my photo. Now the guidebook warns against petty thieves in Pamplona and I had visions of him disappearing with my tablet. In fact he was totally genuine and we had fun taking the photo. I noticed that Hubert couldn't be bothered and headed off!  My new found friend took me to the final traffic lights, shook my hand, and then disappeared. As I rounded the corner for the Cathedral I bumped into Paul who had arrived over an hour ago. He said that the cathedral is wonderful and that there was another church worth seeing. I said that I would see him this evening and headed up the street.
The cathedral-after I had paid the pilgrim rate of 3eur-was a haven of peace and tranquillity. A magnificent red window was casting wonderful colour. I enjoyed the quiet and the peace. I also visited St Sernin' s church and then examined some lunch menus. I asked when they started lunch and told 1.15, since it was still not 12 I decided to carry on. Around 1 there was a nice place to eat and I enjoyed roast chicken and a glass of Navarre wine. Just after I set off again I passed a smartly dressed priest, the third that I have passed today. In each case they neither made eye contact or greeted me!
The final stage of the route passed the university and a number of the students spoke. By now I was leaving the city and could see the Pyrenees behind. I was soon at Cizur Menor with its two Romanesque churches. The first person that I met was Alberto the Brazilian from yesterday. After he had gone I had found a camera case. I had put it into my pocket in the hope that I would see him again. He was so pleased when I produced it. He showed me that there was a memory stick inside. When the lady had booked on Saturday I heard her say that my name was Pedro Gerardo!  When I arrived I gave my name. The owner said that I was in Room 2 and that there was no-one sleeping above me. When I got to the room there were 5 sets of bunks and 1 bed. The bed had my name on it. Paul is in the next room and we have arranged to meet for supper. The only problem is that the place is full of noisy Americans


  1. Wonderful reading and as ever full of your unique humour and wisdom. Looking forward to seeing you on your return.

  2. Good morning Fr B We've just read the first month's blogs in one marathon session having returned from holiday where the Wi-Fi was intermittent at best! Your posts combine the spiritual with the physical and provide a thought provoking and enjoyable read. I've just signed up to do the coast-to-coast walk next summer (Cumbria to North Yorkshire .... yes, I know, a walk in the park to the seasoned pilgrim!)and with this in mind I am noting your tips, not least the respect for Oscar and rubber caps for the walking sticks! Now that you are in Spain, we wish you buen viaje (and when you get to SdC you should treat yourself to a Gallician delicacy of octopus terrine - estupendo! Peter and Kathy X

  3. Very interesting to read your blog! So i always can follow you and Hubert on the way to Santiago! Hope Hubert will be fit soon, greets to him!