Had a bit of a lie in this morning until 6.30am as we only had a short walk to do today. There had been a storm during the night but was over by the morning. When we started walking it was very misty especialy over the mountains, so you could not see the tops of the windmills. It did not take long for the sun to begin burning off the mist and the tips of the windmills came peeping through and in no time at all we had sunshine and wonderful views. We mostly walked on very muddy slippery paths to Eunate. Eunate consists of a beautiful church very simple and a albergue. On the way we passed wheat fields, grape vines, olive groves and fields of sunflowers. Only saw one sunflower in bloom, it looked so yellow against all the green. We passed a cherry tree full of delicious cherries - stood drooling and Sylvia said No! No! No! The owner is probably relying on the fruit to make jam or to sell.
On the way we stopped at a village called Enériz, saw a local bakery and Val and I had a coffee and a tasty brown roll with cheese. Syl had some fruit, cheese with a hot choclate.
We arrived at Eunate at 11.00am and our albergue was only going to open at 4.oopm. Our boots were so full of mud and had become so heavy because of the muddy paths so the first thing we did was to wash our boots under the tap and put on our sandals. There was a lovely grass area so we put down our bed bug sheets and rested on the grass in the shade. It was extremely hot and the time dragged a bit, eventually at 3:45pm the albergue opened.
Jean our hospitalero was French - such a friendly chap. He showed us around his house and gave us all a glass of cool drink. He said that he had beenr unning the albergue and looking after the church for the last 3 years. We slept in a large room on mattresses on the floor (it was very comfortable). Jean said that he would be cooking supper for the pilgrims and we were to wash the dishes. After dinner he would take us into the church for a blessing.
At 8.oopm we sat down to a delicious 4 course meal - us 3 and another pilgrim. Just after we had finished washing the dishes another 2 French lady pilgrims arrived. So Jean took us all into the church, no lights were turned on, and we had our service with candle lights. We all had to read a verse and at the end he sang Ava Marie. It was all very beautiful. The 4 of us then went off to bed and Jean fed the other two pilgrims. Did not even hear them come into the room.
Val - Minister of Nutrition
An easy and short walk this morning although muddy - just as well for Marion and me. At the second village we managed to get coffee and Marion and I had a big cheese roll to try and make us feel human...egg and bacon would have been better. As you have gathered we are walking and staying in remote areas. The upside is that we are getting lots of clean, pure air, a suntan, very fit (hopefully losing weight) and very relaxed. As such upon my return, I expect you to say how wonderful I am looking and then whisper to each other "no way has she walked the Camino, she's had a nip and tuck!"
To give you an idea of just how remote some of the places are that we stay at, imagine after walking all day you come off the path to what was once a village, but all that is left are the ruins of a small castle and chapel. The houses are crumbling. The sign for the Alburgue points to the next corner and takes you through this 'ghost town' and then you find just one small building has been renovated. Here they have some beds, serve coffee and food and you have no option but to stay there...talk about a monopoly.
Then of course there is the delicate subject of bowel movements. It comes close to the English obsession with the weather. One says "I'm going to the bathroom they say"..we look knowingly and our looks say "go well", "good luck". When they return, the door opens and "yes, yes yes!"they say punching the air with their fist..."great" we say, green with envy. Walking along "How's it going?" "Been 3 days now" "Agh, Shame, perhaps tomorrow" For more on this subject we highly recommend the following reading "How to Shit in the Woods" by Katherine Spinks. Of course it doesn't help when you realise, as I did today that I have for the past 4 days been taking Immodium instead of my daily tablet!!!
As we climb the next path, there in the middle of fields is a tiny church "Ermita De Santa Maria de Eunate". There is little known about this Church and they have built an Albergue next door where we are hoping to stay. It doesn't open until later and we have 5 hours to wait. There is nothing to do but lie in the sweltering sun. Syl and Marion came here last time but it was closed so we are going to wait and see and if not we will have to walk to the next place.
A lovely man arrives and lets us in early, he is off loading lots of food which he has collected from Pamplona and he is going to cook for us tonight. For the next few hours he works hard in the kitchen but will not allow us to help him. He provides us with a superb meal of vegetable soup, decorated with cream and crouton, then a salad served with a "Croque Monsieur"(a french toasted cheese and ham sandwich - Jean is French). Then a vegetable risotto and finally a fresh fruit salad with a biscuit...on the biscuit he had cut a yellow 'Camino' arrow out of lemon peel. Only the pictures can really capture this lovely meal. We wash up and then he takes us over to see the Church. The next morning we come down to the best breakfast since we started. A beautifully laid table with cereal (first ever) real milk (first ever), herbal teas (first ever), coffee, breads, jams etc. etc. fresh walnuts and cherries. The walnuts are amazing and I managed to buy some to take home.
We left Tiebas with happy memories of kind and hospitable people. What we will remember of the paths to Eunate is mud, mud, and more mud. There are few places to stop and even those mentioned in the CSJ guide are merely hamlets with no facilities other than an occasional fountain. We stop at Eneriz for a breakfast - I have a nectarine, cheese and hot chocolate - delicious.
We are in Navarre and pass through more and more vineyards. Marion and I recall walking to Eunate from Pamplona along a treelined road. This time we approach through a woods along a very muddy track that hugs a hedge on one side. Finally we come upon the church basking in the sunshine. It is hot. Really, really hot.
I walk around the outside cloisters looking for signs in the stones to photograph. There are many - some familiar, some new ones. Eventually we put our heads under the tap, lay our bed bug sheets on the ground in the shade of cherry trees and doze off. People come and go. A few pilgrims look at the sign on the door ´Today we open at 16h00´and move on up the hill to Obanos 2km away. Tour buses arrive with smartly dressed groups all trying to get out of the sun. They sing inside the church and we enjoy the free concert.
I doze off but am awakened by someone singing Ave Maria in the church so beautifully that it sounds like an angel. I don´t want to disturb her so I just stay on the grass and listen. Eventually Jean, the resident hospitalero arrives, walks over to us to ask if we are staying , how many od us, and then disappears into the house. He will only let us in at 3:45 or 4pm he tells us. At 3:45 he beckons for us to come in.
¨My name is Jean´he tells us, ánd I have lived in this house since 2006. I live here and look after the church. I came here the first time in 2004 as a pilgrim and then took over the albergue in 2006.´
It is blissfully cool inside and he offers us a glass of fresh lemon juice which he has made himself. He shows us the bathroom and showers downstairs and then leads us upstairs to the bedroom. There is a pile of vynyl covered mattresses and softer mattresses which he starts laying out on the floor. In the cupboard are blankets and pillows. Christiane (a French pilgrims from Normandy) Val, Marion and I setlle down to showering, washing clothes and sorting out backpacks. I offer Val a massage to ease her Achilles and Marion offers Christiane a foot massage. ´I will miss you South Africans tomorrow´she says.
After a wonderful supper we all help to wash the dishes and then Jean invites us to an Oracion (blessing) in the church. We are each given a little glass holder with a candle and a sheet of paper with a reading for each person. He says a prayer and sings beautifully after which each pilgrim reads from the prayer sheets. It is a lovely way to end the day.
I take a few photos of the church in the sunset. "Who built it?" I wonder. "It is octangonal, like the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. That is why some think that it was a Templar Church. Others think that it was a funery church. Sitting inside, looking at the simple but beautiful stonework, everything in miniature compared with larger churches of the same design, I fancy that it might have been built by a wealthy family for a beloved but lovesick daughter whose betrothed has gone off with the Crusaders to Jerusalem. It looks and feels like a church for a young woman.