I have been walking with Graham, my albergue friend from England. As I arrived in my albergue the first person I met was an elderly gentleman and I use the term lightly, who was one of the four sharing the room this evening. Our other two room-mates were two young women from the United Kingdom. Coed sleeping arrangements are a thing I must get used to.
Graham it turns out is a retired Anglican priest who at age 70 decided it was time to walk the Camino. His wife is a counselor with priests in crisis! We had a bit to share about. I consider this a God sighting and we agreed to walk along together.
We awoke at 6:30 on Sunday to begin the trek. After a short stop at the Parish church Notre Dame du Bout du Pont we began the steep climb out of town.
The first day was a beautiful and strenuous climb out of St. Jean Pied de Port up, over and through the Pyrenees and into Spain nearly 16 miles, 25 kilometers. There was a full range of weather, cool in the am, warm with a cool breeze as the day wore on, rain showers at the border of Spain and then hot on the steep decent into Roncevalles.
250 pilgrims arrived at the old monastery on the 14th and we all had a bed. 150 of us in one dormitory.
I went to a pilgrim mass of blessing given in ten different languages. Another God moment, I was asked to read the English version of the scripture for the Mass.
The next morning we left early, before sunup to start this stage to Larrasoana. Hard hiking up and downhill, with a short break for jugo de naranja (orange juice) and tortilla ( a Spanish omelet).
We arrived at our destination by 3pm, 17 miles or around 28 kilometers. My feet and legs are tired this day and I'm glad to be able to stop reasonably early.
The albergue is old, but I'm glad to have a bed. The town filled up and pilgrims needed to go on to the next villages to try to find a bed.
The God-sighting for today, the 15th, was a situation where a Chinese man I had met in St. Jean, Chin Lee, had arrived in Larrasoana and did not have a bed. Graham had the number of a hotel in the next village, one kilometer away. Chin did not have a Spanish phone and didn't speak Spanish so I called the hotel and asked for a room. They had one room left and would hold it for Chin for 30 minutes. Off he went down the trail saying "thanks". We hoped he was successful in getting there in time.
Dinner was a group meal with other pilgrims and seated with me in one spot, Graham, the Anglican priest next to me and then next to him was a Pentecostal pastor from Australia who runs a drug and alcohol recovery program. The others at the table were able to have our share of the wine and I got to drink "mas aqua, por favor"!
This morning was another early morning and I planned an early stop to rest my weary legs. Only 15 kilometers today, less than ten miles.
We checked into the albergue Jesus y Maria and it is wonderful. 100 beds, modern (coed) showers and a place to wash clothes for the next day.
After showering and washing clothes I walked to the Cathedral in Pamplona, a lovely, ancient building that also is a museum since there ruins being excavated from Roman days.
As I was looking at the remains of the institution I noticed a pilgrim kneeling in prayer. I looked closer and it was Chin Lee. He was just arriving in Pamplona and was praying before he walked on to Cizor Menor. He reported that he had made it to the hotel on time the night before and gotten the room, and a good night's rest with no snorers! He was very grateful and called us his Camino angels.
For me I saw it as The Lord revealing his Body alive in the midst of the ancient institution. We can still care and share with each other in need .
Tomorrow I do it again, day four begins early. Buen Camino
Gate to enter St Jean