Is there a better way to wake up in the morning than with a group of hospitaleros singing a beautiful rendition of Hallelujah as they stroll through the dormitories? It sure beats the buzzing of an alarm clock at 6 a.m. It is their way of telling us it is time to get up and be ready to leave by 8 a.m. so they can prepare for the next batch of pilgrims.
Breakfast was at Casa Sabina, the same little cafe where we had dinner last night. Everyone had to leave their backpacks outside, protected as well as possible from the light rain that was falling. There was a long lineup waiting to get inside the cafe and the lineup continued inside to the counter where finally we were given a very simple breakfast of orange juice, cafe con leche, toast and jam. The cafe was crowded, space to eat at a table was at a premium, and the air was steamy. It would have been a smarter decision to forego breakfast there and have it at a cafe after we had walked for a while. That’s the plan from now on.
A better place to have had breakfast might have been Burguete, a picturesque little town with window boxes overflowing with flowers, just three kilometers from Roncesvalles. Ernest Hemmingway used to stay at Hotel Burguete. In the central square is the Iglesia de San Nicolas de Barri, a saint closely identified with the Camino and protector of pilgrims. Alas, he was no help to the wise women of the area who were classified as witches and burnt at the stake here in the 16th century.
After another 3.5 kilometers we passed another charming little town called Espinal, and 5.3 kilometers further was Viscarret, our destination for the day. Just as we arrived at Viscarret ominous clouds let loose and there was thunder, lightening, and heavy rain.
It was noon and we easily found Corazon Puro, the same pension where our daughter, Tania, stayed two years ago. In fact, we might have the same room she had with the little balcony overlooking rolling pature lands. Lovely! And what an amazing value: For a total of 36 Euros we have a private twin-bedded room with dinner and breakfast.
When we decided this afternoon to have our showers (for lack of anything better to do in this quiet, little town) Dave discovered he left his soap in Roncesvalles. It was just before 4 p.m. and the only store in town was closed. Oh no! What now!? The store hours weren’t posted, but we figured everyone was having a siesta and that if we hung around until 4 p.m. the store would open. Sure enough, the church bells rang four times, the store opened, and we got our soap.
Even though it rained off and on thoughout the morning, it didn’t prevent us from having a pleasant walk from Roncesvalles to Viskarret. The route took us on quiet paths through farmland and woodland areas and across roads at several points.
We came to a bubbling brook where quite a few pilgrims had their boots off and were washing their feet. Some obviously had to doctor their blisters, making us realize how fortunate we are that our feet are hanging in quite nicely so far. No blisters. Our knees, hips, and ankles are still hanging in, too. The only thing that isn’t hanging in is Dave’s rain poncho. It needs replacing after only one day’s use.
The dinner table tonight was shared with three others: Paddy, a 79-year-old from Ireland; Laura a new retiree from U.S.A.; and a young man from Hungary. Laura just arrived on the Camino today and would be driven back to St. Jean Pied de Port tomorrow to begin her journey over the Pyrenees. The young man from Hungary just finished hiking all the way from St. Jean today (about 37 kilometers). Dinner tonight was delicious: lentil soup, stew with meat and sausage, rice, bread, cake, and wine. When one bottle of red wine was finished, another one appeared on the table. There were five of us plus the two hosts and it made for a very enjoyable evening.
When we were talking with Laura, the topic of lessons that we can learn from the Camino came up. One of those lessons for us right now seems to be how addicted we are to our mobile phones, tablets, Internet, wi-fi, etc. We are lost without them. Dave and I have walked for three days and have written about those days, but can’t share our experiences with people at home. The situation is more frustrating than it should be.
In the “olden days” we connected with home by sending postcards and airmail letters. Sometimes we’d be home before the mail arrived. We’ve become accustomed to much faster means of communication and it is hard to change! Hopefully we’ll be able to update our blog tomorrow …or at least not be frustrated because we can’t.