Time walked from St. Jean to Orisson – 2 hrs, 50 minutes
Total distance walked for the day – 7.7 miles
Weather – Cool and cloudy to cool and sunny – High, 68
Terrain – Steep climb up paved roads
Ray and I woke up at 6:30 a.m., took quick showers, finished packing our gear and walked to Saint Jean Pied de Port, about 10 minutes from the Airbnb where we stayed for two nights. Ray wanted to stop for coffee, but I was too excited to get going on our first walking day so we headed for the historic street, Rue d’España, and began our Camino.
As promised in all the guide books and references, the steep climb up the Pyrenees began immediately. Ray and I had a similar step and pace, but he was definitely faster going uphill. We passed a few people, and people passed us. I smiled when we received our first “Buen Camino” greeting and happily returned the traditional greeting to those we met. I was familiar with the distance for the hike, which reminded me of our practice hikes to Bajo Mano and Finca Lérida in Boquete. When I started anticipating the end of our day’s journey, I wore myself down mentally as the road turned and wound with no alburgue in site. Eventually we came to Albergue Hunto and I knew we were getting close, but the last 1.5 miles seemed to take too long. About the time we started to question if we had missed a sign, we rounded a curve and caught our first glimpse of our albergue.
Ray and I started the day at 560 feet altitude and ended at 2680 feet altitude. We arrived at Albergue Orisson at 11:30 am and each had a cup of coffee and some soup while visiting with fellow peregrinos. We met Jeri first, walking her second Camino, and she was kind enough to share her previous experience with us and answer a number of our questions. We called her our “Camino Guru.”
I started to approach the check-in counter when in walked Yung Mi, a peregrina we met on our transport from the Biarritz airport to St. Jean. We threw open our arms and gave each other a big hug. We were both excited to catch up, so we grabbed some lunch while sharing our experiences. We then checked in, grabbed a 5-minute shower and hand-washed our clothes. Yung Mi was assigned a bunk in a room with 5 other women, while Ray and a got bunk in a room with 2 other couples and 4 singles. While checking in, I saw a sign that said, “No wifi, you have to talk to each other.” For a split second I thought it was a joke. It was when reality set in that I realized my Camino had truly begun.
Ray and I sat in the afternoon sun at one of the picnic tables behind the albergue near the clothes lines. It sprinkled off and on, so I fussed with our clothes on the line thinking it would help them dry faster. Fortunately, there was a good wind and everyone was happy that their clothes got dry.
A line formed early for 6:30 dinner. Although not a difficult climb in length or time, many of us were still getting used to the changes in time zones and tired. We sat across from Steve and Ann at dinner and had some good conversation. They had spent time sailing and living on their boat and knew several people who had sailed to Panamá. Dinner was served family style. Soup was the starter followed by chicken, peas and carrots and a delicious basque cake, named for the region. Everyone was complimentary of how satisfying and tasty the dinner was.
The lights out rule was at 10 pm and no one wanted to wait that long. We visited with our roommates briefly and headed to bed. I inserted my earplugs and fell asleep quickly, but it didn’t last. Hopefully, I learned to never complain about Ray’s snoring again because the “snorchestra” happening in that room was shocking. I laid awake from 2:15 to 3:47, last I checked my Fitbit. When I woke up at 6:30, I was the last one still in bed. Ray was already dressed and so I quickly followed, we ate a quick breakfast, drank our coffee from a bowl, which Ray loved, said some good-byes and took off once again.
Day 1 Gratification – Thankful for Bill and Gina Brick, who introduced us to the Camino de Santiago and have encouraged us from the beginning.
Thankful for being able to train and practice in Boquete, Panamá.