I have overestimated just how much would fit into a weekly blog. This week's installment will only cover the first day of walking. May 9, 2006.
Journal Entry May 9, 2006
I left Roncesvalles early in the morning, about 6:30 a.m. I didn’t sleep all damn night. On top of still being scared silly, trying to sleep in that refugio was a waking nightmare. A cacophony of burping, farting, and snoring...My God. There were two men who snored in perfect rhythm, as one breathed in, the other breathed out. It was really ridiculously perfect timing. Like listening to an oompa loompa band. I don’t know how I will ever learn how to sleep with so many people in the same room. The energy of all these people in one room is hard enough to deal with, but the noise? Holy shit…
I had a mystical visitation from my Grandma Gen in the middle of the night. I first noticed a hand on my back, rubbing it in a soft circular motion. And then I realized it was her! She used to rub my back that way when I was a small child to help me go to sleep. I felt so grateful and comforted! But then she said, “Todo cara Sweetheart, todo cara!” What the hell??!! Grandma doesn’t speak Spanish! Why would she speak Spanish to me?! Good God, can nothing be clear for me in the spirit realm? Why does everything have to be such a mystery?
I am going to have to ask someone what that means.
Oh ya, as I got off my bunk this morning, I cut my big toe on the metal bed frame and sliced it good. I got the bleeding stopped, put some antibiotic cream and a bandage on it and hoped to hell I wouldn’t get tetanus. I hadn’t even started and hurt my foot. I am sure I attracted it because of my fear.
I walked for an hour and ate breakfast in Burgette. Burgette is only 3 km from Roncesvalles and it took an hour! The terrain is more difficult than I expected, but then again maybe I did expect this challenge, but being afraid of if and facing it, are two completely different things. I walked all day over the 2nd tallest mountain I will be crossing on this hike. It was physically excruciating and got my first blister before 10 a.m. I stopped at a stream to soak my feet and when I took my boot off my sock was soaked in blood, I had thought it was sweat. The cut on my toe had bled quite a bit but looked liked it had stopped. I rested, took care of my toe and blister and kept walking. The altitude is crazy high for someone who lives in the West Texas Flatlands. I was afraid breathing in high altitudes was going to be a problem, and I was right. I could hardly breathe all day. Going uphill I could not breathe, going downhill my toes hurt so bad I cried like a baby, and I walked up and down all day. At one point, I could only take 10 steps before I had to stop and catch my breath. The last of the day was just down, down,down and by the time I got to the refugio for the night, I had eight blisters!
A French man and I kept passing each other today. He would be resting and I would pass him. Then I would be resting and he would pass me. On and on we passed each other. Finally he said, “I think we are playing the tortoise and the hare. You are the tortoise and I am the hare. You will make it my dear, you will make it!” Yep, I am the tortoise and probably will be to the end. (I never did see him again.)
The discouragement today has been intense, even though I am sure my angels are with me, and I know for a fact Grandma is obviously with me, but still, the pain is crazy bad. I feel bad about being so discouraged on the first day, especially when everything is so beautiful. The mountains and the woods that I am walking through are so beautiful. I cried so much today. I want to do this so badly and I just don’t know that I’ll be able to finish. I want to fully enjoy this beauty but the pain is so fucking intense. I’ll just have to enjoy it the best I can while I am in pain and cry it out.
The woods here reminds me a little of the woods in Minnesota where I grew up. In some areas the woods have the same kind of trees as Minnesota. And the flowers, oh my they are so beautiful and they are everywhere, little woodland flowers I haven't seen since I was a child. The woods are full of color. The little white, red, pink, yellow, and blue flowers are everywhere.
Right before I got into the last town for the day, Zubiri, I was wishing I had a companion to walk with, and around the next corner were two french speaking ladies from Montreal, Canada. They were sitting on a bench that someone had made on the path. Someone had placed a lawn chair next to the bench and they invited me to sit down and share an orange with them.
They were so lighthearted and fun, and visiting with them picked up my spirits immensely. The aunt was 61, the niece 52, and their humor was just what I needed. They carried plastic wine glasses with them and had bought a bottle of wine in France and were still carrying it with them. We walked to Zubiri together and laughed at how much pain we were all in.
By the time we got to Zubiri my feet were in worse condition and my right ankle started hurting, badly. I was literally hobbling into Zubiri, and...there were no rooms left. Of course there were no rooms left on the first day of walking. At 5 pm none of us could walk the 5.5 km it would take to get to the next village, so we took a taxi to the next town. I was guilting myself about taking a taxi on the first day, but honest to God, I actually walked 22 km! Almost 17 miles!!!! WHAT?! No way! I had no idea I had walked that far over THOSE mountains. Ok, no more guilt. I amazed myself.
8 blisters, a cut on my foot and I walked 17 miles, in the Pyrenees mountains..Amazing!
We got a taxi in Zubiri and made it to Larrasano in time to get a room at the Pension El Peregrino. We shared a room at the pension, which is more like a motel than a refugio. There are 6 rooms and two shared bathrooms, the cost? 16.00 euros compared to the 5 to 10 Euros of a regular refugio, but the refugio was full and we were lucky to get that.
As I was taking care of my feet and talking to them about my concerns that I might not make it, the aunt said that after her first day, (they started in St. Jean Peid-de-Port, the highest mountain and the most demanding on the whole trip), she cried all night and said that was it, she was getting a bus the next morning and going home, but she got up the next morning and felt better and carried on and felt great. I felt so much better being around them, and it was good to know I wasn't the only cry baby!
I will get up tomorrow and see what it’s like starting out with 8 blisters and see what happens. If I make it to Pamplona, I will be happy.