Our hostess left us a thermos of coffee on account of our early departure. We set off before dawn, back up the hill and set our sights for Pamplona. We walked alongside the River Arga – a beautiful stream among the green woods.
We stopped at Irotz for breakfast – tortilla patata (potato omelettes) and coffee – wonderful. We chatted with our Camino friends and then caught a photo with the steel pilgrim statue:-)
There was a picturesque water fountain at Akareta – we met someone who stayed at Pension Akareta and they highly recommended it (perhaps next time).
At Zabaldika we crossed a main road and followed the arrows up a steep hill. Actually, there were two arrows – one pointing up the road, and one up the steep hill. We surmised that the steeper path was the correct one. We had been told there were two paths – one more picturesque, but longer, the other less so, but more direct. We thought we were on the short path. We were, of course, wrong.
But sometimes being wrong is the better way, and it was in this case. Such is the Camino. We climbed steeply, commenting that we were fortunate that it wasn’t raining as the path would have been very muddy. At the top, we entered a garden.
It was the garden of the monastery at zabaldika at the Iglesias de San Esteban, run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. We were welcomed by a Belgian nun who gave us a hug and a blessing that brought a lump to our throats. She said it was a pilgrim’s privilege to ring the bell. I climbed the tower and the bell rang loud and pure across the valley.
The nun told us that there were two paths, but we had chosen wisely because we had completed our climb early – the other path seemed gentler, but the climb is longer and later. We were invited to stay at their Albergue and remain for the pilgrim mass. But it would have been a short day for us, so we declined – but would definitely stay there next time, now that we know of the place.
Crossing a medieval bridge we came to Trinidad de Arre – a church and donativo Albergue. Some people loved that place, and it certainly has a long history. But our goal was Pamplona and then we entered the suburbs.
I’m glad it was early afternoon, because the path took us through an economically depressed area, with whole families sitting out on the street, and shabby houses unkempt and unloved. Clearly unemployment was high, and the area was hard hit. So the pilgrims walking past with high-end backpacks and smart phones contrasted deeply with the locals sitting on the pavement playing cards. We skirted the locals and their dogs with a friendly ‘Hola’ as we passed. But we kept on walking.
The main street in the old part of town was crowded with dancers and people – an abrupt shock from the near solitude of walking.
The Albergues were full but we were recommended to a nearby pension – a run-down dive like something out of a cyberpunk novel. The door didn’t close, and the water was piped backwards in the shower down the corridor. But we were tired and it was a bed for the night. It was the start of a fiesta.
INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog