Friday, May 3
Lights and classical music turn on at 6:00 am, and we pilgrims are out the door soon after, with no breakfast available in the small town.
Cold and wet again, I stop after three hours to relax and warm up with a glorious cup of cafe con leche (aka Cappuccino). Although I'm not usually a big coffee drinker, I believe I will appreciate coffee greatly on this journey. I keep on walking through lush green fields and muddy trails, listening to the occasional cow bells (and horse bells) clanging gently.
As there are a fair number of other pilgrims on the trail, I learn surprisingly quickly how competitive I must be. Why my instinct requires that I be in the lead, walk faster, stop less, I have no idea. It's high time I squelch this self-judgmental attitude and attempt to find satisfaction in my own pace, whatever that may be. Who cares if it's erratic? Who cares if I want to stop and take pictures here and there, and the same pilgrims pass me whom I passed awhile earlier? Who cares if I want to sit my butt on a wet stump and catch my breath? Who cares if I speed downhill and drag uphill? I need to learn to be content in all things, especially in myself. My limitations provide room for growth, and my successes provide ways to praise. All is good.
I realize that I judge others too. One man has his backpack on a roller cart he's rigged from walking sticks and who knows what else. Most have backpacks bigger than mine, and some handle them with ease, while others keep shifting them up and down, side to side. Some have only a tiny daypack, and send their gear with a transport service. Some have ponchos, some have rain jackets, some laugh and talk loudly, some smoke cigarettes as they walk. Why should their choices affect me at all? The answer is that they don't, and I shouldn't criticize them or make assumptions, even in my mind. Live and let live. We all have our own journey to make and do it as we should -- that's it.
A little before noon, I run into Norm Minnesota again, so we walk into Zubiri to eat lunch together, and continue on, chatting together about our expectations for the Camino, our fears, our freshman feelings, all afternoon to Larrasoana (27.4 km). The albergue is full, the next pension is compleato also, and yet we find one last pension that rents us a room with four actual twin beds in it! No more scrambling down gracelessly from the top bunk without a ladder! We meet Lena Ireland and Egge Netherlands, our roommates for the night. I share dinner at Perutxena Taberna (Basque) with Norm, Egge, Erik Netherlands, and Philippe France, while carrying on heated discussions on such vital topics as fluoride in water, living in Russia, and Texas music. Filling ourselves with pasta, beef stew, the omnipresent pan (bread), two bottles of wine, and boisterous conversation, the day winds down with a perfectly communal ending.