September 5th 2014 – Day 2
Roncesvalles to Zubiri, 22km
The lights go on in the large dormitory and I awake to find pilgrims getting their things ready for the day ahead. Some are doing stretching exercises, some are putting sleeping bags away and others are looking at their sore feet from the day before. I am wiping sleep from my eyes after the long night. Yawwwwwnnnn!! I gather my things after a quick wash. The room where shoes are stored is downstairs and there is a slight delay in finding mine. I’m all ready within 20 minutes and am out the door by 7am…wooden staff in hand.
I go in search of Andrea who is in the old overflow albergue, which is not too far away. The day before, I hear that both new and overflow albergues were full which is unprecedented for September. Things could get busy down the line as most towns don’t have 400 beds in them, especially Zubiri. Zubiri is a small village just off the Camino made up of a municipal albergue, and 2 private albergues. That would be about 200 beds between the three hostels so there was already a bit of competition to get there early. We also learned the night before that the albergue in the next town, Larrasoana, has been shut for the next few nights due to bed bugs. Hmm..let the bed race begin!! As I mentioned earlier, I had reserved a bunk in Albergue Zaldiko so I could take it easy. I find Andrea outside the old albergue along with other Irish folks that I had met yesterday. There was Joe, Mary and Martina who had traveled separately.
After taking photos beside the large sign showing distance to Santiago, we move on through the woods taking our time. It was pretty dark out and many had torches out. I was using my phone that had saved me on previous Caminos. On the flat, I tend to walk fast so it wasn’t long before I had outpaced Andrea and left her behind. I reached the first town Burgette and waited for her to catch up and we had some breakfast at the first cafe that was open. There we met Natty and Shelly, both Canadians. I had seen both on the 1st day. Shelly is a retired policewoman and was rarely serious. She was in the cubicle beside me in Roncesvalles. I had my first cafe con leche and tostada wolfing it down, probably too fast. Shelly joked about how bad I snore. I feign ignorance, but I know that I do. She is fine with it in the end. Natty is quiet and takes everything in, drinking her cafe con leche while reading Brierley’s bible. I have his took somewhere in my bag but to date I haven’t looked at it since I arrived. I couldn’t help notice how everyone had a copy while there was no need for it.
We move on after half an hour in the westbound and it is all downhill, crossing rivers and venturing in and out of forests. Shortly afterwards, we both meet three Irish women who were walking until Pamplona. They were staying in casa rurals and had arranged for their bags to be transported ahead, rather than stay in albergues. They had found the first day tough and were taking it slow.
Without knowing I had left the crowd behind and decided at that point to keep walking at my own pace. I would see them in Zubiri when the day is over. I put on some music for the first time and picked up a decent pace while on the flat, passing through Espinal before arriving at the first climb of the day. The calves were still at me from the day before but I prefer ascents to going down hills. It wasn’t long before I hit Alto de Mezquiriz and took a break. I had covered 10km in nearly 2 hours. But going down was not something I enjoyed. I get a great feeling passing people out, but these same people pass me when I come to a steep decline. I detest them and take ages negotiating them. The last thing I want to do is let gravity take over and pick up an injury. So the next 5km – 8kms was a very “stop-start” affair. I pass through more forest and again more streams, including the Rio Erro.
It was pretty warm this day with little cloud. I was quite happy with this as some of these declines must be lethal when it is raining. Rather dry than wet. I meet more Irish folk during the day, some who happen to pass me during the tricky descent into Zubiri. I didn’t see them again. I walked the final 5km with Natty from Canada and Ann Marie from New Zealand. They are both retired but I walked at the same pace as me. We reach Zubiri just before 1pm. I was starting to burn at that stage so I was glad to get checked in and rest for a bit. I was also happy to have made the reservation as Zubiri was totally booked out at this stage. The main municipal albergue were giving mats to people to sleep on the floor. This was crazy for September. The hospitalero in Albergue Zaldiko was helping passing pilgrims by advising them to get a taxi to the next town and stay there. Mad!
After washing my gear and sending a message back home to say all is well, I headed to the local cafe where I see Andrea! She was booked into a hotel on the main road. I was glad to see her again. I also met David from Australia, Bob and Leslie from Canada and I see Shelly and Natty again. No sign of the Irish crowd. They may have got a taxi to the next town. After a quick snack, we agreed to have dinner in the restaurant later that night. Another “menu del peregrino”!! I was getting used to them! Some of us agreed to aim for Pamplona in the morning but I was hoping to power on to Cizur Menor if I wanted to get to Burgos within the 11 days.
I would let my legs tell me how far to walk. Until then I was going to sleep soundly!