I went to post office to mail things home. A great deal of pilgrims will mail lots of their things back home.
After making the arduous trip over the Pyrenees they decided that with 500 miles in front of them they do not need those extra pants, shirts, binoculars and such and quickly unload this stuff at the post office or give it away by placing it on a table at the Albergue for other pilgrims.
After stopping to receive a bit of foot treatment and relaxation, I had to get out of Pamplona. I was losing focus, like I was on vacation or something. I needed to get out and find my Camino again.
The hot days are tough. It’s hard on your body. Even your feet get overheated.
Leaving on Wednesday, Aug. 26, I arrived in Cirauqui around 2:30 p.m. after about 14½ miles. There were only five pilgrims at this Albergue, which had 28 beds.
The owner said because of the record heat there are less people this year.
There is so much history here in this small village. At the top is the church of San Roman with multi-lobed doorway and Santa Catalina both dating from the 13th century. When I left the next morning through an arch off the main square, just 100 yards outside of this medieval hilltop village of Cirauqui, I start my walk on one of the best examples of Roman road on the Camino, or for that matter, anywhere.
And then the road continues over a single span Roman bridge. As I’m walking on the this Roman road I noticed how its built. I see that the borders are marked with these large square blocks, and the roadbed itself has these smaller fitting paving stones.
It’s very interesting.
This goes on for a 100 yards or more. Further down the trail, I still run into small pieces of Roman road. An hour later, I cross the Salt river, over a medieval stone bridge.
I carry a lot of fruit with me because of the heat and great amount of energy I put out.
The Spanish people are sure good to me on the trail.
An older Spanish gentleman passes me twice on the trail, and eventually I greet him while sitting down for a break. He seems to assure me that the next village its not far away.
I take quite a few short breaks where I take my shoes and socks off. I need to do this four or five times a day because my feet really hurt from walking on these big rocks, getting pounded from the bottom and side. Then you have concrete, pavement and cobblestone. However, the fist size rocks that are sharp and loose are the worst.
One thing I’ve learned on the trail: if you think you may have a problem, like a very fine little pebble in your shoe or a sock that may have scrunched up a bit, you had better stop and address it ASAP because it will be a much bigger problem at the end of the day or even before. That can either mean get the damn thing out of your shoe or rub the hell out of it.
It’s amazing after you have walked for an hour and you reach a top of one of many hills and look back to see the incredible amount of area you have covered.
When i stopped in this very, very small village to stay the night on Saturday, Aug. 29, I was dead tired and hurting, there were 2 Albergues — one in an old building, small but very clean run by this young man and his wife. The Albergue across the street from his was modern, had a bar restaurant and looked fancy. I asked the young man why should I stay with him and not the more up-to-date facility across the street.
However, he didn’t speak hardly any English. However, he brought me a pitcher of cold water with a glass and placed it on his simple desk and pulled a simple old chair up to the desk for me. This immediately reminds me of the time I was at the Vatican in Rome at the age of 16 and was talking to a young priest, who told me of the story about Jesus dragging the cross and talking of thirst.
I made up my mind right then and there to stay. I knew it was right.
After a very short time, you find spiritual side of the Camino.
Along all the branches of the Camino, you will find yellow arrows pointing the way to Santiago de Compostela — the end destination. They appear on walls, trees, roadside milestones, footpaths and in formally painted signs. Mostly they have been put in place and are re-painted from time to time by pilgrim support organizations.
Then of course there is the yellow scallop shell on a blue background on a 3-foot high cairn that points the way. I really look for these and am very thankful when I see them, especially when in the early morning hours the sun hasn’t completely come up yet.
You’re still hurting from the previous day. You can be confused and lost and see it and say, “Thank God.”
It’s tough to just keep walking with a smile on your face, and you will always arrive where you should be.
I do seem to be finding my limit on the miles and time. You don’t want to hurt yourself to where you can’t finish the Camino. I think I want to keep my daily limit at 15 miles. That still takes a good deal to recover from.
As of Monday, Aug. 31, it’s been 12 days.
I walked just a little more than 130 miles with some side trips, exploring villages, ruins, etc. I have met and become friends with people from Holland, South Africa, Australia, Bulgaria and Spain. I have explored medieval villages from the 11th century on, crossed the Pyrenees in the footsteps of Charlemagne, Napoleon and Caesar.
The beautiful old churches along the way are more than 400 years old that are still used for daily mass.
Even with all the wars and squabbles over the centuries between the clans there is still a lot preserved and to see, and I have only explored for a short 12 days. I still have more than three weeks to explore.
John Larimer, a 56-year-old resident of Camden Point, Mo., is currently on a 500-mile walk across Spain known as the Camino de Santiago. John began traveling abroad at the age of 16 and developed a passion and love for exploring history and other countries.