Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, pilgrimage, Spain

September 4th, Day 3: Zubiri to Villava: Slow Down Everyone, You’re Moving Too Fast

Cafe in Larrasoana

I wake at 6, but I’m not as fast to get moving this morning. My assumptions about my older Spanish roommates were true – they should receive an award for snoring. I sit on the edge of my bunk and doctor my feet, debating on what combo of socks to wear. My feet are swollen enough that with two pairs of socks on, I can barely get my feet in my boots. I opt for one thin pair. The others are waiting patiently outside the albergue, and we all set out together in the dark.

Moments into the walk, Tammy realizes she has left her wallet at the albergue. The others continue on and I wait near the town square while she runs back to retrieve it. I pad my feet a bit more, and have a quick cup of instant coffee. But in that time, I miss Tammy passing back through, and after waiting a bit longer, I finally set out alone around 7:30. I figure I will catch up with everyone eventually.

laying in a field, elevating my feet

I stop in the next village of Larrasoana for coffee and a small bite to eat. One woman is running the coffee machine and bar area, and a small line is forming. The man in line ahead of me is visibly losing his patience, but the lady takes her time with each patron. The man begins drumming his fingers on the bar and tuts in anger at how long everything is taking… His manner is off-putting and I try to wrap my head around where he has to be and why he is in such a rush?

Juan, the Coca Cola Salesman on The Way

At breakfast, I changed to thicker socks. I walk on. I put more band aids on. I put music on, and then I give up altogether, and shed the boots, walking the rest of the day in my Reef flip flops. I swear out loud, but I’m adamant I am not going to let it get to me.

I am continually forced to slow down throughout the day, stopping for occasional breaks to lay down and lift my feet in the air. I am covering an average of 3km an hour. In the early afternoon, I resort to singing as I walk, trying my best to block out the pain, but by around 1:15, the heat and the pain has drained me. I stop in a shaded area and have a cold Coke, sold to me by Juan – who entertains me with a Spanish lesson and stories about himself- his struggles with unemployment and his efforts to make money any way he can. I sit much longer than is necessary to finish the drink, and set on very slowly, with hopes of making it to Pamplona.

The afternoon walk is a long stretch of concrete path, which runs parallel to a major highway. It is a scorcher and there’s little shade to be found. When I cross a bridge into the village of Villava, I see an albergue and decide to peek in and see how much it will cost for the night. This is the end of me. Part of me is surprised I’m not pushing on to Pamplona, but the thought of resting my feet wins.

I am the first to arrive in the dorm, so I get a clean hot shower, doctor my feet, and when I’m informed the food in the fridge is up for grabs, I whip up a fresh salad with all the leftovers.

Villava’s oldest Church

Before dinner I sit in the garden of the albergue, feeling disappointed that I haven’t been able to catch up with the others. I take out the paper that was issued to us in St. Jean and look at the towns I will pass through tomorrow and determine the mileage I will clock. I plan on catching up with the others, and hope they aren’t too many towns ahead.

Martin, the albergue owner, walks down the garden path and stops to tell me about the history of the building. He proudly states that this is the best albergue on the Camino and takes me to the adjoining church, informing me that it is older than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and was built in 1190. He invites me to Mass at 9pm.

Dinner with Wolfgang
The ironic wine foil, in shape of a shell

I return to the garden and share my salad and some vino with Wolfgang, my bunkmate, who I don’t like initially, because he tells me that he has walked all the way to Villava from Roncesvalles today, a total distance of 38 km. I have covered a mere 16 km.

We spend the evening getting to know each other – discussing life, relationships, family dynamics. He tells me about his wife and two daughters at home and his work as a helicopter rescue doctor, and we get carried away with stories and realize that we are late to Mass. We enter the church five minutes late and sneak into a back pew. The service is short and simple, but includes a pilgrim’s blessing, “We who have taken the road that leads to Santiago, remember that to ‘walk’ is what defines our lives and to ‘walk the way’ we need the help of God… Strengthened by this prayer, we depart on a new stage of the way to Santiago. Like the pilgrims who preceded you in time, we say their slogan: ¬†Ultreya e suseya (onward and upward to Santiago). Good Way!” ¬†I put a copy of the pilgrim’s blessing in my pocket. For not being a religious person, I am enjoying the spiritual element of The Way, and I say a quick prayer for my feet to heal and be strong for the following day.

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