Daisy and I are beat up bruised and exhausted. I’m quite happy to be out of Paris, a beautiful, busy and very expensive . Whew!
Arriving in St Jean had its own challenges and excitement. We met so many people pumped and excited on the train. People coalescing from all over the world to walk this trail. From the St jean train station we were like herding cattle to the pilgrim office. There we wait meeting new friendly people, snap photos, and thewhen it is our turn receive individual attention and are gracefully welcomed. Unfortunately the auberges were all filled up by the time it was Daisy and my turn for this kind welcome and we had no real place to go unless we wanted to spend $50.00 on a private pension. No not the first night. No we need food and we arrive late and then suddenly the expensive places were taken. Gulp. “Kelley, you fool, so I thought”.
Daisy w patient attitude followed me around and suggested we walk the streets and knock on pension doors to inquire. I insisted that we return to the pilgrim office and plant ourselves till we get help. The same friendly man completely overwhelmed by the amount of walkers arriving each day, a record month’ walked Daisy and I to a tucked in little place not actually advertised. We paid 12 euros vs. the 22 Euros the woman on the street was advertising and trying to pull us in. This woman reminded me of the creepy woman in the scary district in the movie Marry Poppins. I still see her eager greedy face and feel relief to be in our little bunkbed space, now walking the streets in search of a grocery store for dinner, breakfast and lunch the following day.
The next day our first day on the trail a total of 25.1km (15.5 miles) the alternate route. The mountain passes were snowy. Thank god because it is also longer…. Rain is pouring down and there we are with a few walkers. We stop for a snack and the walkers disappear. Where did they go? Something felt wrong. We walked on in the rain along the road. Time passed. I wondered. Soon, I noticed through the trees many walkers off on the right on the beautiful pastoral hillside. Ahha! I refused to turn around. Daisy I said there will be a point further ahead where we can cross to the hillside but I do not think we want the extra kilometers. We don’t. Already the rainy walk feels long and we have just begun.
Eventually a small town merged with the Camino and we joined the other walkers. Shortly after, we are ascending crazy steep hillsides. The good thing is that the rain has ended. But the walking continues over steep and climbing elevation. Everything is wet and the hard part is having walkers buzz right by us like friendly and encouraging race cars. Then there are the men of steel. Young guys plugged in oblivious to the bird sound, the sound of the wind, or drips of rain while walking their steeley not so friendly pace.
Our first day ended at an Alburgee in Ronceresvilles, Spain. We had hiked over a Forested mountainous border into Spain. We negioate 3 languages Basque, French and Spanish and inevitably mix them all up. it is good to have a sense of humour and recognize that we humans know how to commnicate regardless of oul language skills. However it does require a willingness to try to communicate. At any rate, Ronceresvill is a town of around 100 folks a bar and an Alburgee. The first Alburgee was filled with 300 people. Daisy and I had to move in to the old hostel holding 150 people in the same room. Bunk beds in lines down an ancient stone building. The housekeeper welcoming pilgrims. Daisy and I could barely walk. Daisy is in soo much pain. I forced her to eat layed her down on her cot and together we rubbed each others feet. There in her own pain was her ability to see my pain. The limp from my dance injury last fall showing up like firecrackers there on the hill side and nothing to do but walk which turned into limping and later a good hobble.
The next day was similar some rain, less elevation and one kilometer less. However the decrease in elevation left us a tiny bit stronger. Still together we hobbled into the next town. Daisy practically in tears, feeling like her “feet are breaking”. I don’t like those words but say nothing. I keep pushing her toward the Alburgee. I am amazed by her strength and wonder how many children her age and older teens would be able to endure this. I believe a certain jewel inside in our children as well as the strength and will and belief of the parent. This is tough business. Daisy just wants to go home. I cannot blame her. I rub my Daisy’s feet feed her pasta again) and send her to bed. Again she sleeps with out moving and I hate to wake her for another day of trekking. The alburgee’s require that you are out by 8:00 am. I pack daisy’ s pack and allow her to do the minimum just to get her out the door into the morning rain again.
So much has happened between day 1 and day 3. I only touch on how we are doing but there is so much more to share. New friends, some walkers who feel like guardian angels, some folks who feel obliged to impart their adult parental philosophy on our child, a father son drunkard scenario, people from all over the world: Brazil, Norway, France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Italy, turkey, Mexico, Germany,Australia and many other places. Mind blowing actually. And the felling for me is curiosity (if that is a feeling). Sometimes I have hope in the world. Sometimes it is the recognition that we are intimately connected more than I realize and to place ourselves in a situation like walking a pilgrim trail exposes us to that sense of connection to all over the world.