Roncevalles

We walk till our legs drop off. Where is this place. I’m in the mountains coming through forest and there is no village. It’s the end of the day and I have arrived at a palatial suite but it seems too far to walk from the bathroom to my bed.

Dinner is amazing as is the shower and bed, I will not walk tomorrow, I cannot walk tomorrow. The early breakfast started at 7.30 and bizarrely we had to queue, and although the staff are lovely they seem to dash about in a panic.

”Do you have a breakfast ticket? Is it orange or white?”

I am shown to a separate room but the food laid out was so comprehensive, every kind of patisserie, lovely fresh fruits, toast, baguette ham, cheese, water coffee orange juice …everything.

But although I felt rested and the legs had regained consciousness …I suddenly realise that reception has my passport.Reception is closed  and there is no one about. I joined Paul and Fiona for breakfast and they had collected theirs the night before after having their credencial stamped. I am  beside myself…we are supposed to leave to make the ‘alledgedly’ 22Km walk to Zubiri. All my control just sped out the window.. I cant leave without it. It’s a sign I am meant to rest or give up. No such luck. The waitress rushes over whilst she is trying to serve at least a group of 50 and turns up with it in her hand.

”You 107?’ She asks…that was my room number..

”OH God , yes” ..and like everything so far, I go over the top and hug her as though she had saved my life. She had!…but Paul and Fiona are smiling and waiting for me to join them. They are so lovely, I must seem like some strange alien with a secret agenda.

Regardless we start walking. I cannot explain…we only climb to 900 metres through many shaded forest paths but day 2 after the shock of day 1 just feels as though you never slept or refreshed.

The road is long and I stagger behind my new friends whom I would be lost without. Paul is the orienteerer as the yellow scallop shell seems to point in every direction. The path is only one person wide and wends through a corn tunnel that scratches your face. Then we walk for several kilometres beside an open quarry…is coffee never happening. Then another single file trek along the river Arga  through a very very long bramble tunnel.

Yeah, a coffee shop emerges  with an iron man in the garden. I love the bar, as grandma is sweeping up in the back kitchen.  These lovely people must live for the ‘pilgrims’ and they deserve it. Although I can only feel pain in my toes….we get to the end. Zubiri. I am in the first Inn. A little alpine retreat. I don’t care…I have to hold the shower..I don’t care. I pick myself up. Literally. Crossing over the most beautiful little medieval hump back bridge, I can see a youngish woman pointing and laughing  at me.

“”Ha ha, you walk like I feel” she said in her Aussie accent. The inimitable Laura, elementary teacher from Sydney. We fall laughingly into rhythm.

” I need a drink and anything will do!” She laughs. “I don’t care,” Cafe des Caminos is simple and on the corner and its packed. Paul and Fiona walk by, or tried to, before they are haled to join us.

But my bed was delicious. I cant walk tomoorw. I have done amazingly well so far. Is it only day 2?🏃🏼‍♀️😅😴😴😴

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