Last night in Orisson, we all shared a meal of vegetable soup, pork, beans and basque cake. Instead of pork and beans, I had a salad in its place. We sat with an Australian mom and daughter named Carol and Jola, a Chinese woman from Germany named May, a young girl from Quebec, and a couple from England. May arrived a little late, having nearly ran from Saint Jean and looked like crap. Similar to what we looked like hours earlier after climbing that ridiculously steep elevation!
It wasn’t long after dinner that we retired to our room. Exhausted, even the stalky, Brazilian woman who snored like a freight train didn’t keep us awake for long.
This morning, we said goodbye to Orisson and continued our trek up the Pyrenees. Up, up, up. Absolutely brutally steep at points, but somehow we actually managed to pass a few other pilgrims today. I wanted to vomit often, but somehow resisted. We would climb as far as we could see, round a corner excited for a break from the climb, and see there was no break. It seemed the climbing would never end. At one point, after coming around a corner that I was sure would result in a flat stretch, I was appalled to see the trail once again continue up. I decided then that I would have a tantrum. After a few yells and waves of my poles, I turned to see 3 female pilgrims followed closely behind by 2 male pilgrims. I explained myself quickly, “the hills just don’t want to end… I just need to have a tantrum.” They all giggled and nodded (I’m sure they would have liked to have done the same) and they continued on while I got myself together.
I’m sure that my favourite part so far on the Pyrenees mountains were the cows, horses and sheep all along the summit. No fences. Just free to roam. We would walk right through herds of these animals. They didn’t care that we were there, and only gave Karis curious looks when she would try to feed them grass. Usually in each herd, there were a few who would wear cowbells. The steady ringing of the bell became the music of the mountain. I enjoyed the sound – but the poor animals that has to wear these probably had a continual headache!!
For a few kilometres along the summit there was a deep, plummeting drop on the right. The trees that grew on that bank were almost creepy in a beautiful way. The fog laid deep throughout the trees and I couldn’t help but think of Neville. I wondered if his wife was down there in those trees. If poor Neville had enough of her bossy, bickering. Maybe it was a spur of the moment decision to shove her down there, or maybe he and his son had planned this trip with doing her in in mind?
Poor Neville. I’m sure this wasn’t the case. I’m sure he’s in an albergue somewhere listening to her bark at him now… Wishing he would have pushed her down that bank…
Once we began our downward decent, a gentleman in his (60’s?) gestured towards a trail to the left and told us that was the way. Everyone seemed to be following that path, and we did also – not questioning. It was steep! Rocky and STEEP! Not far down, we realized that this was the path that the lady at the pilgrims office in Saint Jean had warned us about. “Caution” she had said. “Take the path to the right.”
It was too late now to turn around, so we continued. Thankfully it wasn’t that bad the whole way, and it evened out a bit not too far down. Well, at least it wasn’t so rocky. Our knees are sure feeling it tonight though!
As we entered roncesvalles, we were thrilled to see a creek. We peeled off our boots and socks and soaked our feet in the cool water. Afterwards, our flip flops went on. None of us could even entertain the idea of our boots going back on at that point. We had walked 20km. 8km the previous day. Most steeply uphill, and nearly the rest steeply down. Very little was flat, but all was beautiful! As we made our way to our albergue after lunch, we saw “the road sign” that so many people have their picture with. “SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELLA 790km”
WTH??!? We’ve already done 28 of the supposed 800km! So I say the distance is 818km from Saint Jean. NOT 800! (We will get our picture with this sign tomorrow morning)
When we arrived to check in to our albergue, we were hot, sweaty and tired. We walked up to the converted monastery and were dismayed to see what we thought was a long line waiting to check in. As we approached the crowd, mom commented on “all the old people waiting to get a bed”. We stood with them for awhile in the hot sun and she finally said, “I don’t know if they are waiting in line or not. I’m going to find out. If they all start beating me, make sure you come help.”
After being around so many people who don’t speak English, you start to assume most don’t. These ones did! As soon as mom said that, one lady protests, “oh we wouldn’t do that! We’re too nice!” I laughed hard and yelled up at mom that, “they speak English!!” They told us that they were on a bus tour and wanted to know all about where we had walked, and how old Karis was. They were impressed at her walking so far at her age.
The albergue that we are in tonight has nearly 200 beds. We are in a cubical with two bunks, and are sharing with a nice South American girl who is currently living in New York. The Japanese man on the other side of the wall from me is out cold as I type this and is snoring like a beast. Thinking the ear plugs will come out tonight!!