Day 1 - Roncesvalles

Day 1 – Roncesvalles

AlbergueI’m sitting at a hilltop restaurant in Roncesvalles having a beer. I feel clean and refreshed for the first time in what seems a long time, although the line up for a shower was an hour long.

Today’s walk started off well. I was feeling good and I made it to Honto and had a rest. It had been about 4km and an elevation change of about +240 metres. Then I worked myself up to Orrison (which has a great deck hanging over the valley that provides a great view of the mountains) at 650 metres. This was when the wind hit. It was a steady 30 km or so and gusted to about 60; all coming at me while I was trudging uphill. I have amazing windburn. Orrison is where I met Tim, an art student from Leeds. Originally from the States, he decided to walk the Camino to inspire himself and to figure out where he was heading. I’ve seen him in most towns since then. He’s a decent sort.

When I got to about 900 metres above sea level, the trail took a sharp turn up and my left knee began to ache a lot. Too bad, there is nothing there, so on you go. I finally arrived at Roncesvalles after walking 25.5 km and climbing from 620 metres to 1442 metres, and then down to 960 metres. Tired? You bet.

I have already lost a piece of clothing—somewhere along the way there is a nice new white t-shirt that I had strapped to my pack to dry.

I set myself up in the albergue, a 13th century church/storage area/and at one point stables for Napoleon’s men. I had a shower, had some clothes washed (yea!) by the staff for only 2€), and put a cold pack on my knee. A very kind Spaniard helped me ice it earlier and offered me some ibuprofen.

I also bought a staff as I figured I would need the help on the trail.

Albergue AccomodationsFor supper I ended up at a table with Rupert from Oxford and two Australians who currently live just south of Paris, Morag and Peter. They study climate change, which is cool. Peter is blind and his wife Morag leads him. I’m in awe. All three were great company and we had a nice pasta dish followed by a tasty trout (head included) with some chips. A full bottle of wine and mineral water was included as well.

We walked out sated and tired, just in time to get back to the albergue and get ready for bed. I even slept most of the night.

I like the walking so far, but I am having trouble with some of the social aspects of the Camino. I’m not one to just begin a conversation with strangers.

I am missing Sandy so very much. It is like a physical plain. I have been separated from her for only three days, and I have been on trips for up to seven days in the past, but I think the distance and time difference are having their toll.

I’ve been trying to maintain my audio journal and I have taken a huge number of photos so far. I hope the photos are able to convey the scope of what I have seen, but I have my doubts. It may be that the vistas just have to be experienced in person.