Over the Pyrenees
I awoke early at my Camino mountain-side albergue; it was lightly raining and still dark. Others in my Pilgrim hostel, Kayola in Orisson, stirred at about 6:15. By 7:00am they were gone, heading a half-mile up the mountain to the next albergue for breakfast.
I heated leftovers from last night’s dinner, enjoying a very satisfying breakfast. At 7:15am I donned my rain gear and started out into a cold, damp foggy white-out. Besides being fairly cold with wind, I enjoyed the hike very much. I wished for the famous big vistas, but our moody version of the Pyrenees was also beautiful. Below: another Pilgrim hiker on the road ahead.
I learned to watch for the many markings to show the Way….yellow arrows, red and white stripes on posts or stones, or an X mark that you were making a route mistake.
Part way up I stopped at Pic D’Orisson, a statue brought here from Lourdes by shepherds. I couldn’t see the magnificent view she blessed, but I sat a while in the white clouds for a silent prayer.
Near the top of the pass at Col Lopoeder (1429m or 4688′) one finds this cross. From here one may choose to go down by a steep middle path or else by a beat-up road. I took the road to save my knees. I enjoyed the walk down. Gradually we descended from the clouds and could see Spain in the valley below. I’m in Spain!
The horses amused me: mothers watching over their sleeping children.
Two Korean men shared the path with me in this section. I had some conversation with one of them who spoke some broken English. He expressed not being “religious,” but enjoyed a walking mediation as he moved along. Amen to that!
The other Korean man didn’t speak English at all, but he was full of smiles and opened gates for me as a kind gesture, and later pulled a shiny yellow plum out of his pocket and offered it to me. I couldn’t refuse, plus it was delicious!
Once arriving in the village of Ronchesvalles one is immediately at the huge Pilgrim hostel, newly renovated from the 1127 guest house. It was huge! Since I had reservations further on, I stopped at the picnic tables for lunch, and then continued on my way.
I also stopped to visit and meditate a while at the Iglesia de Santa Maria, with the famous 13th century wood statue of Our Lady covered in silver. A pretty church, and a favorite of Hemingway.
Leaving town I see my goal: Santiago only 790km to go!
I felt good after lunch, after the 10 mile (16km) mountain crossing. Only 4.2 miles (6.8km) to go to my albergue I had reserved (I had wanted to avoid the large crowds in Roncesvalles, but now I questioned my choice due to tiredness).
The first two miles of this next hike seemed fine. Like yesterday in the later part of the day, I was alone for the entire walk after lunch. The woods were very pretty. Unfortunately these woods are infamous for the location where 9 witches were hunted down and burned at the stake. As Monty Python said, “Nobody likes the Spanish Inquisition!” It was a time of extreme religious intolerance.
I walked on, singing devotional songs, being mindful of my purpose and joy. It’s a lovely woods. It seemed, however, that the little village of Espinal would never arrive. When it did, the treat of staying at a monestary (which is what I thought I reserved) was dashed, only to find I’m at a modern home converted to a hostel. It’s clean but definitely “vanilla.” I’ll try for something more inspiring tomorrow.
Today: 23.8km (14.8 miles), and about 725 meters climbing (2400′). A really big day! My knees, hips and feet are telling me it is time for sleep!
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My Camino is a personal spiritual journey and a fundraiser for a new Temple of Light. Follow the links at the top of the page to Walk with me if you feel so inspired. Bless you!