Camino Diary Entry #9

Alto del Perdon(emails home from the Camino)
#9 Pamplona to Puente la Reina 24 kms 7.5 hours
Getting out of bed was not necessarily easy. It was time to leave Pamplona and get walking again! Being the self-indulgent pilgrims we are, we left our luggage for the courier, didn’t really feel guilty about the 2 large stacks of dirty plates on our breakfast table and charged out of the luxurious Hotel Europa heading straight for the taxi rank at the corner.

Feeling no shame, we directed the taxi driver to take us to the Camino walk on the outskirts of town! He seemed to find that particularly amusing and we all agreed (as much as you can in 2 different languages!) that we would keep this a secret! 5 euros later we had saved ourselves a good half hour of walking and a couple of kilometres. We exited the taxi directly onto the path of scallop shells marking our trail.
The heat was relentless! In no time , it was 27 degrees and soaring! Stupid looking hats in situ, we plodded on!
Did we mention climbing mountains? Well nobody else has until now! The trail was something like the worst of Rapaki Track, and no end to it! The rocks and stones made for challenging walking, real ankle wrecking/shin splinting stuff, the heat blistering and the incline little short of cruel!

Eventually Pamplona was a mere dot in the distance and we came into a totally different landscape.48 Way above us were the imposing towers of tall white turbines, soldiers on parade saluting the wind. Somehow, it seemed we could never reach them, then suddenly they were almost below us.
A welcome breeze greeted us at the top of the summit of Alto del Perdon where the panoramic view was spectacular shimmering in the heat. We photographed the iconic iron sculptures of a group of pilgrim but Gwyneth appears to have lost all interest and said she didn’t care about any of them!

72 647 km markerWe made new best friends with yet more Irish pilgrims and conversed avidly with the few locals who acknowledge us as we repeatedly trot out our extensive Spanish vocab of ‘hola’ and ‘buen Camino !’

Finally after 13 kms and too many hours to count, we started our descent.

We are well past believing it is any easier to walk down a mountain, than up one! At Uterga, 16 kms into the day we stopped for a cold drink . The Albergue was shaded and the staff friendly, there was a sign at the gate ‘ Santiago 697 kms’ – just what part of that was meant to make us feel better?

Apart from that one place being open, as happens by early afternoon, the little villages we wander through are like ghost towns! It must be some siesta! Some times we do not see a single soul as we pass through!

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