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Time walked – 7.5 hours, with multiple breaks

Total distance walked for the day – 15.6 miles (52.3 miles total)

Weather – Cold morning, upper 44 degrees; sunny and warm in the afternoon, low 70’s; hot in the city, 80 degrees

Terrain – pavement, stone paths, smooth rock paths and city streets

The alburgues don’t have a check-out time, they have a “must be out by” time.  We were slow out of the gate from Hostel Suseia.  Although they provided nice blankets and everything seemed new and comfortable, I did not sleep well.  Ray continued to have congestion and a cough, making him keep himself awake because he was afraid of snoring.  We were in a room with one more bunk occupied by Yung Mi and Valorie, a Parisian who started walking from France 30 days prior.

So far, we’ve always had to leave our shoes at the entrance of our albergue.  I thought that was odd at first, but was thankful that our beds weren’t surrounded by stinky shoes.  The last thing to do in the morning is to prepare our feet for the day.  I prefer using petroleum jelly to coat my skin, reducing friction to lessen the likelihood of blisters.  Others use tape, a product called Compeed, or moleskin to accomplish the same thing.  I had a small half inch blister starting on the inside of my right heel after yesterday’s brutal decline.  Yung Mi was working on her feet and offered me some of her Compeed for my blister.  I snapped a quick pick of my right foot for documentation before applying the product.

I got a few blisters just below my big right toe while training in Panamá.  While ugly, the previous blisters were in places that didn’t ever cause pain, even after they popped and the skin peeled.  My left foot has escaped and blisters thus far so someone suggested that maybe I had one leg longer than the other.  Ray’s feet are tired and slightly sore at the end of the day, but he does not treat them and hasn’t had any blisters!

Since our hostel wasn’t on the Camino Way, we had to get back to the Zubiri bridge to get started.  I like to take note of how I feel right away so that I can make any necessary adjustments.  As far as clothing, I was comfortable with my layers for the weather, my pack fit well and felt balanced, my hydration pack was working well and my feet and shoes seemed fine.  We were passing a few other pilgrams and before long, Felix had caught up to us and soon disappeared from our sight.

Before we had been walking for an hour, we found ourselves walking through a small hamlet.  A group of men were gathered at one of the many fountains of water provided for the peregrinos.  There is something very comforting about seeing these fountains even if our hydration packs are full.

Water fountain at Illaratz

I got a good photo of Ray taking a drink during our walk.  While I sometimes think he is more socially forward than I am, he has his limits and enjoys his space.

It was obvious the previous day had taken a toll on us.  As we approached Zuriain, not quite the half way point for the day, we could see many pilgrams stopped at a path-side café.  I had already seen in the guidebook that there was another cafe through town, but I was already too tired to be adventurous.  I didn’t realize how much of a daze I was in until I heard my name and could barely respond.  Scott and Jenny had beat us again and invited us to take the two empty chairs at their table.  I plopped down and removed my shoes to get some air.  Ray slowly removed his pack next to the cafe, used the washroom and didn’t join us for awhile.  I remember being happy to see them and we talked about the difficulties of the previous day, but no details come to mind.  They moved on as a Ray and I ate sandwiches, bananas and split an apple, and of course, rested our feet.

At one point we had a choice to walk close to the river, an extra half kilometer, or take the high path.  The river was to our left and a green field of young wheat was on our right.  We stopped to take pictures of the wheat for our youngest daughter, Annie, the agronomist.  Ray and I opted for the river path, thinking it would be flatter, and it was until it curved to join the other path and we had to climb a set of stairs to reach the elevation.

While snapping the wheat photos, it became evident that I would need a restroom soon.  I was trying to remember how far the next town would be when we spotted a roadside park.  Sure enough, there was a restroom! This was my first true experience of how the Camino provides.

We were more exposed to the sun today, so this was the hottest day for walking yet.  I had an on-going debate in my head about stopping at the albergue in Arre, or going three more miles to Pamplona.  We made a quick stop on a park bench before Arre where Ann Marie, whom we met in Zubiri was taking a rest, and decided to push on to Pamplona.   We took a dozen steps off the path to take a quick look inside the beautiful cathedral and soon found ourselves on city streets.

At first I would say we were in a suburb, but then we saw the ancient walls of Pamplona and found ourselves in the old town.  Thus was the first night that we did not have a reservation, but I had an idea of where I wanted to go.  When I realized it was almost 4 p.m., I started to get nervous and buried my head in the map, missing the noise and crowds around us.  I was having a hard time making sense of the map and street signs, but we found Albergue Jesús y María without much trouble.  There were about 6 people in line to check-in in front of us and soon the line formed behind us.  We were given beds 87 and 88, a bunk upstairs.  I didn’t even notice the beauty of the converted building, but fortunately Ray got a good photo.

Other than the thought of having to climb stairs after a long day of walking, being on the second floor should not be a problem.  It became a problem when I saw the frosted glass aisle, flimsy metal railing and clear opening to the first floor.  My fear of heights gave me a slight jolt, but I wanted to get my backpack off badly enough that I pushed through fairly quickly.  I followed Ray and wanted to laugh because our bunk was the second to the last one.  Not only did I have to “walk the plank,” I had to walk the whole plank.  Of course I had my hand on the railing so I wouldn’t get sucked over the edge. Being afraid to look anywhere but straight ahead, I didn’t notice that the railing was not continuous.  When my hand left the railing I felt like I’d been hit with an electric cattle prod.  Fortunately, I was so tired that it wasn’t much of a hit, and I eventually made it to the bed to sit down.

Thankfully Ray takes the top bunk.  The first thing we do is get our beds made for the night so we can then spread out our gear.  There was only one bathroom on the floor, so men and women share the sinks, toilets and showers.  I didn’t like the idea of having to share and the facilities were not that great, but showers are of utmost importance so I just had to deal with it.  The toilets had no seats or lids.  We’ve encountered this multiple times now. I don’t like it at all but Ray pointed out that they are much easier to keep clean that way.  I love that he gave me a different point of view.  After showers we have to get our dirty, sweaty clothes washed quickly so they have time to dry.  We got that done and headed out into the streets of Pamplona to find our dinner.  The food is beautifully displayed and I do think about getting a photo after I’ve taken several bites, but I’ve been far to hungry to take the time.

The wifi at the albergue was poor.  Fortunately we passed a phone store on our way back to the albergue so we stopped for two SIM cards.  We paid €20 to have 2GB of data and I’m curious to see how long they last.  The evenings go so fast.  It was after 9 pm when we got back to our beds.  As I laid down to go to sleep, I realized that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom when I brushed my teeth.  Since I’ve been having to get up in the night anyway, I decided not to make the trip down the floating lane until absolutely necessary.  At least that’s the last thing I remember thinking for the night.

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