Day 5 - Pamplona to Puente la Reina

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
1
6
36
Trip End Oct 07, 2012


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Where I stayed
Albergue de Peregrinos

Flag of Spain  , Navarre,
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kms Walked Today: two stages 24 kms (5k + 19k)
> > Kms Walked in Total: 92.7kms
> > Kms to Go: 696.7 kms
> > Blisters: nil
> > Pains: none. Previous ones nearly recovered even though pushed a good pace.
> >
> > Another great night of sleep and a powerful and hot shower, followed by a buffet breakfast kick started my tree trunks into their usual morning fast march.
> >
> > I have learnt to push myself stronger during the first three hours of the day to take advantage of the freshness of the morning. I have felt the dehydrating effects and addition stress on muscles which come at a later stage when the sun appears in all its glory.
> >
> > Even though the new stated that it would not be hot until Friday, the weather people have failed once more. It has been scorching heat from 11am until at least 6pm. Anyone caught walking after noon will have doubled their effort.
> >
> > The good news is that there is basically water in every village up to now. Not only great for refills, but also a fantastic moment to put the head under the fountain and cool down the brain cells.
> >
> > Most of the walkers carry one litre plastic bottles, or the heavier aluminium ones. I remember doing that during Hadrians Wall and was always left with little or no water. For some reason (probably to carry less) you drink more and faster when you carry the bottle in your hands, and if you pack it you then need to stop each time you want a drink.
> >
> > I changed just before the Coast to Coast to a camel pack. They carry about 2 litres and have a plastic hose which pops out of the rucksack so one can drink whenever necessary. I drink quite regularly, but the 2 litres tend to survive 20kms without problem as the amount drunk is less and for some odd reason more refreshing. An added bonus is that as you drink the weight in your reduces...but one needs to know the quantity that has been drunk as it has happened to me in the early days of its use that I suddenly just received a plastic taste and no water!
> >
> > The walk today went past the outskirts of Pamplona and into very dry crop fields. The path goes up a constant inclination for about one hour to the top of "El Alto del Perdon" (The Hilltop of Forgiveness) which is usually accompanied by very strong winds. The fact is that it seems that most of Pamplona's electricity is made by the dozens of wind turbines they have on the hills.
> >
> > There are a few famous iron statues at the top dedicated to "The Pilgrim", made famous by that pseudo-film by Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen. It was there that Martin pretended to walk like a real pro.
> >
> > I'm unsure whether Shirley McLaine mentions this hill as I haven't (nor will ever) read her book about the path. From what I gather she started seing gnomes and caleidoscopes on the first day already. I did notice some high heel marks at the top, so she might have elevated herself there.
> >
> > Anyway, another famous thing, and another place where pilgrims stopped in masses to take a photograph. Been there, done that! I took mine will walking along to keep going down the hill. I believe I easily overtook about thirty others while they took their portraits. And I don't regret it a second as its about 30 people that had to sleep on the floor or look for other accommodation that night.
> >
> > The Camino, as far as I have seen it, has very little to do with meditation and contemplation. Due to the masses of people that now adventure themselves to do it (thanks Sheen and MacLaine!!), the albergues are well overflowed with travellers.
> > In most places they don't even require the Pilgrim Passport ("Credencial") anymore as its become a touristy thing to do. It usually the travellers chasing for a stamp.
> >
> > So every morning around 5am plastic bags start to sound (reminder to self: invent silent plastic bag for pilgrim. Would make millions!). First its a slow movement of a bag, but that basically opens the race for everyone else to start moving their belongings. That generally starts a panic in all the rooms, with pilgrims jumping out of bed and rushing to the toilet before a cue builds. For someone who is perfectly synchronised in bodily functions as I am, this is a moment of drama...finding three people ahead of you, not only could lead to "accidents", but is also probably one of the "Top 10 Worst Cues You Can Join". You both have to concentrate as a perfect "Sensei Master" to have supreme control over your bowels, and listen and smell to each and every previous chap!
> > At some albergues the toilets are even mixed men / women. The Horror!
> >
> > As days go by, and more people suffer the darker side of the Camino, as humans that we are, they join the Pilgrim Race to be first to the Albergue and conquer as many basic luxuries as possible.
> >
> > Up to date I would be able to establish these:
> >
> > 1- arrive with the first 30 pilgrims to have any hope of chosing your sleeping quarters;
> >
> > 2- chose a bed as far away from the toilets as possible (reasons obvious);
> >
> > 3- then try to get a bed that is far away from any door (as they will keep banging all nday and night);
> >
> > 4- avoid groups of youths (they go out drinking and reappear at 10pm closure and start making all sorts of noises).
> >
> > 5- lower bunk beds are better for movement and keeping your stuff close to you.
> >
> > 6- most albergues don't have numbered beds. Some have rooms hidden at the end to avoid having to share with too many people. This reduces the snorer probability factor considerably.
> >
> > All the above leads to a sad irony: the Path originally was full of sick and older people trying to wash some of their sins away, or doing the pilgrimage to try to obtain some health improvement from the powers that be. Nowadays, the fit and strong arrive first and take benefit of all the best facilities, leaving the ill, slower and older to sleep on floors or worst places. I'm not evangelical expert, but something seems be wrong in the formula.
> >
> > Back to our feet! Apart from the Perdon hilltop (described by an Irish old man with a bear and with similar characteristics to "Father Ted", as "that Feckin' Forgiveness Mountain"), there was nothing really outstanding in the rest of the walk. It was just dry crops, lots of dust, and a very strong sun.
> >
> > I also passed an italian from Tirol who is walking with lightweight lederhosen.
> >
> > Also more impacting are the crosses along the walk with the walkers that died in the attempt. I have noticed quite a few, starting with a chap who died in 1935 to much more recent ones. Reasons could be illness or accidents (these do not appear on the cross - just a name and date).
> >
> > So I was immensely relieved when I arrived at the village of Puente de la Reina (still Navarra). The first two albergues were already fully packed and it was only 11am. I rushed to the last albergue, which I was aiming for from the begining and was lucky enough to get one of the last bunk beds.
> >
> > The glory about this particular albergue is that it has a large swimming pool and grass all round it. With a temperature of over 30 degrees it soon became the heat solution. Even better was that the water was absolutely freezing (apparently for hygiene). So although it was very painful to get in, the effect on the muscles was as close to a Nordic sauna as I would get. I felt completely new after a couple of sessions.
> >
> > The only bad thing about the pool was that all the Italians wore their speedos...wait a moment, those were not speedos but undies!
> >
> > I had a nice afternoon walk in the village of Puente de la Reina, and a good pincho of tortilla with spicy peppers grown by the bar owner.
> >
> > They have a very nice church, where I had to crack up as there were two older local men sitting on the chruch wall talking. One of them twice shouted "Me cago en Dios!" which is an expression used very commonly in the region, but perhaps shouldn't be utilised in the church area. Literal translation is "I shit on God", but is not meant as a blasphemy (although it surely must be), and its really just a stronger version of "jolly gosh".
> >
> >
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