Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 14: Eunate to Pamplona

Jean had told us last night that breakfast would be at 7.ooam. When we went down to the kitchen he had laid out such a spread. I could not do justice to the breakfast as I was still so full from the night before. The generosity of Jean was amazing as our accomodation and food was not a set price but by donation.
We started off walking between 7.30 and 8.ooam a lot cooler again. We had not gone very far when it started raining, at first spitting and then a bit harder so we stopped and put on our raincoats. We had a long climb up on river boulders, rocks and stones, we were walking against a very strong wind. We passed a lot of pilgrims who were walking the opposite way. Often stopped and chattered to them. When we reached the top Alto del Perdon the wind was howling and lots of mist. Their was a combi parked at the top selling drinks and snacks, so we had a coffee took some photos of the splendid views and the metal peregrinas and started our steep decent again on, boulders, rocks and stones. By 1/2 way down it had become quite hot so we stopped and took off our raincoats.
Coming down we had splendid views of Pamplona and took a few photos. In Pamplona we are staying in a super hotel we have a large room for the three of us and of course our own toilet and bathroom. It is amazing how excited we were to discover in our bathroom, large fluffy towls, shampoo, soap, we could have a shower or a bath even a bidet and ,can you believe it a hair dryer. After bathing and doing our washing which we hung all over the bathroom and the room we spent a couple of hours wandering around the city. Unfortunately we never found an internet cafe to post on the blog. One thing I could not get over is that every car in Pamplona has a dent or or two on their car. I think the roads are so narrow that they bump into each other all the time or take the corners too sharply. Val very kindly took us out for dinner for her last night in Spain.

Everyone in our room is up just after 6am. Breakfast is all ready for us when we get downstairs. Jams, marmelades, madelena cakes, toast, cheese, salami - coffee, various teas and hot chocolate for me.
Today the clouds are heavy and there is a thick mist. Jean points out our road to Muruzabal. We will be waking against the 'camino tide' all the way to Pamplona.
´The sun will burn it off´I say. ´That´s what Martin always says´comments Val, ánd it never does!´ She is right. By the time we are on the path to Muruzabal the wind has strengthened and it is starting to rain. We take out our ALTUS raincoats for the first time since France. Everyone we meet is walking from east to west and we are walking to eastwards to Pamplona. We pass through Uterga and many pilgrims stop to ask us why we are going in the opposite direction. Most have pale complexions, showing that they have just started walking (we look like walnuts). By the time we reach the rocky path up to the Alto del Perdon the wind is howling and we are being buffeted so strongly that even our sticks are swaying in the wind.
"So, you have had a nice easy camino, along sundrenched paths, no rain for two weeks and very little wind? ´Hmmmm??´ponder the Gods of the Winds. Let´s end this camino with a flourish." And so they do. The wind nearly blows us off the mountain. The rain is lashing down. It is a gruelling climb up the slipery river boulder strewn path to the top of the Alto. There is a van parked there with a fellow offering coffee and food. We buy a cup of coffee but delcine the food. We take photos of the metal sculptures and then start our descent. It is muddy and narrow and we jostle on the path with pilgrims coming up.
´Where are you coming from?´asks a couple. ´We started in Lourdes we say, and have walked the Aragones. We are now going to Pamnplona.´ They look impressed. ´
We have just started´they say, ánd already we are exhausted. Will they make it to Santiago? I hope so. The sun comes out and we walk uphill to Cizur Menor. Val thinks that we are in Pamplona. She takes off her boots and puts on her Crocs. She has already given her sticks away. ¨We are at 45th Cutting¨I say ¨we still have about 5kms to go to the centre of Pamplona.
I feel bad for her. We could have a got a bus to Pamplona but I wanted her to walk to the final city so that she would feel the same sense of achievement as when we walked into Rome. This walk is turning into a long, hard slog for her instead. sWe stop at a cafe-bar where three women are eating huge plates of eggs, sausage and chips. We are told that the kitchen is now closed so we just have something to drink. We continue onto Pamplona which we can see ahead of us all the way.
We follow a rather boring, route through the outskirts along the camino signs in the cyclist´s lane all the way to the Plaza del Castillo. We find our hotel and check in.
This is the end of the Aragones for us three and the end of the camino for Val. After a lovely looooong... hot soak in the bath, Marion and I walk to the Plaza del Castillo to find the internet cafe up the side street but it is closed. We go back to the hotel and the three of us wander around the old city looking at the exhibits in the square. We take Val to Cortes Ingles and I buy a Spanish Sim Card for my cell phone. I buy our train tickets at the Renfe office across the road.
We ask for a referral for the best restaurant to have tapas. "Iruna" we are told is the most popular. We have a drink next door at the Hemingway bar and Val stands us to our last supper at the Iruna.
Back at the hotel we sort through all our stuff and I give Val a few items to take back to South Africa - tights, fleece, chill-cheater pants which I doubt I will need again on this trip. She lays out her medical supplies and Marion and I decide what we need to replenish our stocks. My pack seems much lighter and I am even able to fit my boots into it. Tomorrow I will wear the Crocs on the train.

Sil - 20th June: Morning in Pamplona
We decide to have a last breakfast together and I take Val and M to the little cafe-bar off the Plaza del Castillo where they serve delicious churros con chocolate. We then meander down the 'calle antica' to the St Jacques Puerta, meeting a few pilgrims coming up the hill into the old city.
Val wants to do shopping so we say goodbye and Marion and I collect our things from the hotel and walk down to the bus stop where we get a bus to the train station.

Val - Minister of Nutrition
Well we bid our farewells to Jean and other Pilgrims and start to walk, Jean calls out "wrong way" but Syl points out that we are indeed going the right way, to Pamplona where they will catch transport to commence their next walk. and I will fly home.
As such we are walking "against" the pilgrims, the most I have seen on this trip. We walk up as they walk down! When we get to the top it is like being on the English Moors, it is thick mist but beautiful. A man has a campervan where he is offering hot coffee and chocolate, and yes Spanish Tortilla (By the way, I am writing this after my return - I have had to start from scratch because Tombi, my puppy Great Dane ate all the notes that I sat and wrote in the airport waiting room) of my purchases was a Tortilla pan and I made Martin a rather good Tortilla that Sebastien would have been impressed with.... anyway...we stop and have a coffee and take pictures of "The Pilgrims Monument on El Perdon mountain pass"...they are life size statues which represents a group of pilgrims guided by the Milky Way and in just a few years has, become one of the most famous landmarks on the Jacobean Route.... I am absolutely captivated by it. We would have like to have had a photo with us inbetween the individuals, but the wind was blowing so hard, I fear we would have disappeared over the edge!
I start off ok as far as the feet go but very soon with the uneven terrain of stones, stones and more stones they give up. I can feel that they are very swollen now inside by boots. As we come down and out of the hills we begin to walk on tar roads and I completely misunderstand Syl because I think she says we are on the outskirts of Pamplona. I give my sticks away at the earliest opportunity... many pilgrims are setting out without sticks and have no idea what is awaiting them, climbing up in that wind.
Then off come the boots and on go the crocs and although my feet are feeling dreadful, I know I am almost there.... we come to a bar and this time I say, girls I'm having a glass of tinto... I never drink wine during the walking day but hey...I 'm almost there!
Then I find out that we have to go through this small town and then walk on to Pamplona!! Hell, I am in agony now...I have no idea what is wrong with my feet although Syl has been saying that it is my Achilles and the pain is searing up through the back of the ankles.
Well we make it to Pamplona and I love its atmosphere immediately, it is buzzing and alive and very attractive. Our hotel is wonderful... Syl you are amazing! We have a "suite" with our room and a corridor and a bath with real soap, towels, hot water and a BATH! I cannot describe the feeling of lying in a bath with my throbbing feet being allowed to float.
I clear out my back pack - what a feeling...I set up a "shop" on the end of my bed for Syl and Marion to pick from...pegs, bandages, sheeps wool, etc. After they have had their pickings I dump the rest in the bin.
In the evening, we find a shop and I buy a small suitcase as I plan on shopping and will take a few small things home for the girls save them carrying them now. I empty my back pack into the suitcase...I need that for duty free.
I am taking the girls for supper to thank them for all they have done to make my trip so easy...Marion has made us rain suits, chill cheaters, bags and all sorts of things. Syl has made us wonderful spats..even with a SA flag(!) and has planned and booked the entire trip...also been shopping with us both....hilarious a shop Marion and I will pick up something and then behind us will come Syl "too heavy, don't need it, put it back!!"
We have asked advice as to which restaurant we should visit. Before supper we go into Ernest Hemingway's bar - it is beautiful...a life sized bronze statue of him leaning against the bar and pictures and architecture. The barman has been here for something like 20 years. I have my first glass of Cava (excellent quality sparkling wine closest to Champagne) and it goes straight to my head! Then we move onto the restaurant (I think it was called Iruna - avoid it at all costs). Inside is stunning, it looks like an old railway station tea room, it has beautiful tiled floors, huge mirrors and lighting, gleaming bar. We looked at the menu at lunchtime and know exactly what we want. We have another drink there and then move to our table. As is usual, we are brought wine and bread which we tuck is around 930pm and we as usual are starving. Then finally we are given the menu...but it is different to the one we looked at lunchtime and missing much of the dishes we had chosen. However, we have drunk half the wine and all of the bread so we decide to stay.
Once again, there is not much for Syl to choose from..s o she has a salad to start (once again having to say no Tuna). Marion and I have seafood in a scallop shell which we thought was most appropriate...I refuse to call it by its correct name as it would be an insult to the real dish. It is a grey thick congealed sauce, which when prodded with a fork, comes away from the dish in one whole piece. It is disgusting.
Next course, none of us can have our desired dish so Syl has what is described as a potato bake but it comes with two fried eggs on top...poor Syl she never complains. Marion and I have 'confit of duck' and pork. Both dishes look exactly the same...some meat and chips with a brown gravy over... this again has been plated some hours ago and shoved in a microwave and has congealed around the edges.
Pudding was the best... a commercial icecream in a pastic tub which thankfully the "Chef" has not been able to get his hands on. It is one of the worst meals I have ever had and my last chance of eating something wonderful in Spain.
We are exhausted and go back to the hotel. I curl up in my bed and my feet are pulsing and shooting with pain but I know I will not have to walk tomorrow.

Day 13: Tiebas to Eunate

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 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.

Day 12: Izco to Tiebas

We had such an enjoyable stay at Izco,Val will tell all about it. This morning we again started off in cool weather which makes walking comfortable and easy. By 11.00am the sun had burnt away all the clouds and it became quite hot. Shortly after starting today we walked through a wooded forest and then through a small village that came to a dead end as there was a pond where we should have been walking, there was no way of us getting around it so we had to retrace our steps back through the village and take a detour across the road onto a sunken path beside the river. We soon joined up with our orginal path. We walked through and between a lot of wheat fields and then through a forest path with trees ever so high the lower branches creating an archway for us to walk through. It had rained during the night and droplets of water were still dripping down from the branches and one could smell the earth. It was wonderful, I could have carried on walking that way the whole day!!
We then carried walking on a very narrow path up and down (mostly up) some places ever so slippery, in the steep slippery sections one had to go ever so slow. Sometimes when you put your stick down their was no ground you just had fresh air that was how close we were to the edge. You could see the road far below us and also the new canal that has been built close to the road. The canal stretches for miles. Lunch time we found a platform of cement under a chestnut tree outside a deserted village so decided to stop and have our lunch. Well!! we had hardly sat down and we were covered in tiny insects. We all jumped up so quickly - luckily we had not taken out any food yet. The insects had falled out of the tree, we quickly moved out of the way of the tree and settled on the grass to enjoy our lunch and have a rest.
After lunch we were back on narrow sometimes slippery path mostly climbing up, we walked through a village that the guide book described as an arty village. It did have a lot of arty fixtures round but unfortunately no facalities and all the houses seemed to be locked up so we carried on up and up and then a short way down to Tiebas were we stayed the night. A tough day but ever so enjoyable.
It is quite amazing, whatever village we come to we hardly ever see any locals in the streets during the day. Cannot undertand where they are. Sometimes you see a few old men, very smartly dressed sitting on a bench in the street. It seems the children go to school away from the villages and only come home at 5.00pm.
Val - Minister of Nutrition
A tougher walk today, lots of climbing on stoney paths but beautiful views from high up. Then we come down steeply only to have to go up again to the village. As we walk to the Albergue we pass a bar and the owner is just arriving so I ask when he opens and he says 4pm. They advertise that they serve a Pilgrim menu...once again there is no supermarket, absolutely nothing. Today however, Marion and I had a delicious boiled egg with salt and bread...we managed to buy two eggs from the lady's supermarcado cupboard and Marion managed to cook them before the electricity blew so we ate them on the steps in a small village enroute today. The Alburgue is tiny, 3 bunks and two men are already there so there is just room for us. The kitchen and bunks are all in the one room. There is a shower cubicle with room to change in private and one toilet. Later we discover there is another room with mattresses on the floor where a gorup of young cyclists are bedding down for the night. There is no set charge for the accommodation - you just make a donation. We all have a lie down and then the German gets up to leave. The young Spanish guy George, is staying over. He says he is a Chef and will cook for us...there is no food in this place so we can only imagine that he was hoping we had brought some with us and he would be fed in return for cooking!
At 5.30pm we head for the bar. The lady here is Brazilian and is so friendly and kind to us. We have a glass of wine and coffee and ask what time we can eat. She says around 7.30pm which is fine. She shows us the pilgrim menu and then offers Paella...yes please! Marion and I will share it as Syl is a vegetarian. Neither Spain nor France cater well for vegetarians and Syl inevitably ends up with a salad and fills up on potato tortilla or biscuits, cakes and chocolate poor thing. Two hours later Marion and I have polished off quite a few glasses of vino tinto and are starving. The Paella arrives and is easily enough for 4 - it is superb, with calamari, clams and prawns. Perfect rice and obviously a lovely stock has been used. George is at the bar and doesn't have any money for food so we invite him to join us and share our Paella. The meal comes with another bottle of wine! This lovely meal and our wine and coffees cost just E13 each. The meal also comes
with fresh fruit which we save for breakfast the next day. During the night there is a terrible storm overhead and a huge amount of rain. In the morning we had our melon for breakfast and Myprodyl for the hang-over...Marion reminds me that she and I together (and we think with Gorge) ..pretended to be the bulls in the "running of the bulls"!!

We weren´t planning on staying at Tiebas. I had copied the diary of a pilgrim who walked the route last year and she said that the albergue in Tiebas was dirty and uncared for. However, we were on track for a stay at Eunate so decided to walk further than Monreal and head for Tiebas.
Sometimes the camino lulls you into a sense of false camino bliss. ¨I love these kind of paths´I said to M and Val as we walked along wide gravel paths through fields and farms from Izco . No sooner had I said that, when the path became a forest path, then a double track on stones and clay, then this disintergrated into a single rocky path no wider than one boot. We started climbing up the side of the mountain and down the other, through a stony gulley, then up and down rocky gullies all the way from Monreal to Tiebas. It looked the Sierra Nevada with steep, pitted sheep tracks hugging the side of the mountain, taking you halfway up the hill and dropping you down, down down on the other side. There is a village on a hill across the valley and we keep thinking that it might be our refuge for the night but we keep skirting it, hiding from it, then it appears again.
Eventually we see Tiebas - also on a hill but on our side of the valley. As we approached Tiebas we could see the ruined castle of Teobaldo 1 of Navarra. If we´d had more energy we might have explored it but we were too hot, too dehydrated, too weary to do more than follow the flechas amrailla to the hostel which was way over at the other end of the village. Once again, this room forms part of the Community Centre and besides our small room with just 4 bunk beds, it also has a large room with matresses on the floor for groups. A German pilgrim who we had come across earlier was lying on one of the beds and Jorge from Barcelona was eating at the table. The shower room was swamped with water but I found a mop and pail and mopped the floor in the shower, toilet and entrance hall and it looked spick and span. I found flowers in the garden outside and put them in a plastic cup on the table. The little room suddenly looked very welcoming! Considering that there is no hospitalero and that payment is donativo - into a metal box on the wall- one can´t complain about the accommodation. We had a lovely meal at the local bar and I gave a South African pin badge to a young boy who was prepared to reply to me English when I spoke to him. Tiebas is a clean, attractive village and we found the locals helpful and friendly. Val and Marion livened the place up on the way home - giggling and playing matadors! I'm not sure who was the bull!

Day 11: Sanguesa to Izco

We were on the road very early today 6.45am, again a lot cooler, great for walking. We had stayed close to the river in Sanguesa and everytime we crossed the river there was a strange smell, could not work out what the smell was. Well we had hardly left our hostal and we passed the water treatment tanks and realised that was what we had been smelling. We walked on a grassy path uphill through almond trees for 1.5k´s to Rocaforte. Then on to a concrete path which became gravel. All along the hills were topped with a line of windmills. Our path was undulating sometimes gravel, rocks, sand or grass. Sometimes through a wooded forest and sometimes in the open with majestic views of mountains in the back ground, still could see a bit of snow on the tips. We also walked through fields of wheat. It was a very easy walk today.
Izco the village that we are staying in tonight is again up on a hill, so was a climb to get to it. The village is very small. Our albergue only sleeps 8 so luckily we arrived early to get a bed. Our albergue has the only bar in the village so if we have a glass of wine or two it won´t be far from our beds!!

Val = Minister of Nutrition
Up early and on the road by 06.35am - no coffee or breakfast so eat a banana on the way. Arrive at a lovely little village in the middle of nowhere and find our way to the Albergue. It turns out to be the village community centre but they provide 8 beds for Pilgrims. The local handyman is repairing the ladies ablutions and is very kind to us. There is nowhere to buy food (as usual!) and he offers us coffee..from a cupboard in the community kitchen he takes out a stove top espresso pot and disappears and returns 5 minutes later with coffee in the holder..he brews it on the stove cups so we pour it into glasses..heaven. He shows us with pride, the outdoor braai .. it can roast ast least a couple of whole animals together with washing up facilities and a huge hall with tables and chairs and a bar. He says they have big gatherings here....strange because we are yet to see anyone in these children, no old people...they are deserted. He says the lady will be here in a couple of hours.
Time for a rare relax. I lay on my bed with my ipod and Syl and Marion go to visit the local church..the flies drive me mad so I pull the blanket provided over my head and disappear for a couple of hours. Eventually Paul Simon finishes his 17th track and I unplug. There is a lot of noise coming from the passage and I walk into a bar with lots of pilgrims who are passing through..there is not enough room for them all to sleep here...Syl and Marion had managed to get bread and ham and saved me one. Marion says"good now you've arrived, we can have a glass of wine". We have a glass of Vino Tinto each. Then Mr Fix It explains that the place must close so we get up to leave. He asks if we want more vino? Yes we say, he goes to the bar and puts a bottle under my is a Castillo Irache - Cabernet Sauvignon Y Merlot, Crianza 2004 Navarra region - GOLD MEDAL MADRID! He is proud of this wine which is from his region Navarra. We ask if we can buy food for tonight and eventually find out that they will send the "Supermercado" to us at 6pm. There is nothing to do until then. An Italian couple arrive, we have stayed at the same places with them off and on. She has terrible blisters and has walked on a sprained ankle for almost 2 is swollen and black and blue and she cannot go any further. We all have a lie down for a while and set the alarm in fear of missing the Supermarcardo! By 5.30pm we are all awake and gather outside and we share our wine with the poor lady with the swollen ankle. We all talk about the supermercado and very soon it has become this wonderful refrigerated unit selling everything from fruit and vegetables to "real milk". At 6pm the lady and Mr Fix It returns. A moment later she says, Supermarcardo? Si we say and remain seated. We hear a truck and get excited but it turns out to be "garden services". Then the village dog arrives and we say it must be coming soon, the dog has come for his bone! He takes one look at us and runs..Syl says we must look very very hungry and he's scared we'll eat him. The lady again comes out "Supermercado" she yells and beckons us in. The Supermercado turns out to be a cupboard with a few cans and packets! We take pasta, a tin of toms, a jar of chargrilled peppers. She gives us free salt and fresh garlic and shows that the last pilgrims left 4 sticks of asparagus so we will add that in as well. She also has some bread left from lunchtime so we buy that as well. Sil buys a cold custard and a tin of fruit salad for her supper. The pot for the pasta is taking ages to boil and I have fried off the garlic and Marion and I will finish our 3 day old piece of Chorizo. Then the lights blow...the lady says it is a serious fault because even Pamplona has no electricity. The tom sauce is warm but we cannot cook the pasta. It is light outside but too many flies so we have to eat inside regardless of the fact that there are no candles or other lighting. We eat with the Italian couple and share another Gold Medal bottle of wine. We all put on our headlamps so we can see. The wine is E5.60 per bottle which is good value given that we pay E1.60 per glass of table wine. Our accommodation tonight is E8.00. The Italian couple are lovely and the universal language of music makes it possible for us to communicate. She sings beautifully and he plays the drums in a group..he demonstrates with knives on the table. "Phil Collins?" I say, "Queen?" "Bruce Springstein " he says and becomes more and more animated. Eventually they are talking so fast to Marion andme that we have absolutely no idea what they are saying, Marion looks at me with raised eyebrows, pleading with me to say something...I return the look..eventually Marion says "Agh Shame!!"
Now 'Agh Shame' is a wonderful versatile South African expression. It is appropriate for just about any situation..for instance: Meeting a neighbour or friend in the Supermarket "My Great Aunt Betty died yesterday" "Agh Shame"
A friend "Do you know Woolies has run out of fresh asparagus?" "Agh Shame".

We left at sunrise along straight, wide gravel paths with our shadows strecthed out before us. It is a good way to warm up. Then it was upill to Rocaforte to the Alto de Albar and Alto de Olaz with a stunning view over a wide valley that looks as though a gargantum glacier gouged out this valley millenia ago. From there the path narrowed to a single clay track, becoming a narrow clay and rock animal track which must be lethal when wet.
Having climbed to the Altos it was time to go down again along a very steeply downward trail through the woods. The last 6km were an uphill climb to Izco. Many of the pilgrim ´rooms´on the Aragones (not strictly pilgrim albergues) are a part of the local community ´Sociedad´or social club. It appears that the community are happy to provide a room in their club property with a few double bunks and offer them to pilgrims. At 8€ per pilgrim it doesn´t bring in much revenue but if the pilgrims buy lunch in the social club diningroom and have no option but to buy food stuff to prepare in the kitchen, it must be worth their while.
We find Mark and Chris - the Swiss and Beglian pilgrims we´ve been meeting all along the route - sitting outside having a beer. Some pilgrims arrive at an albergue, have a beer and food, lie down on the beds for a snooze and then pack up and continue walking. I don´t know how anyone can walk after a heavy meal with beer or wine. We manage to have a bocadillo and a Coke before the place is locked up at 3pm. Marion and I visit the local church, walk about the village - it takes all of 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other - admire a woman´s garden and then stroll back to the albergue. It starts raining, ´Not good for the paths´we agree. Val has told you about our supermecado purchase and dinner by headlamp light! I opened my tin of ruit salad and shared it, together with one small sub of custard, between the five of us. Loaves and fishes! Quite a night.
We had just finished eating when a cyclist pilgrim arrived in the rain. As we got into bed the electricity came back on but we were too tired and pleasantly full by then to get up and cook the pasta.
Buenas noches todos.