Two days ago my niece Raleigh Layne Pliskie opened her little eyes to this world. It was a great email to wake up to. It is certainly a different Camino now then it was for the first pilgrims 1,000 years ago. My family is able to keep me updated almost in real time, even while I am on the Camino.
I walked most of today’s 15k with Antonio, an Irishman that will complete his Camino in parts, with this particular section lasting three days and ending here in Pamplona. His wife hadn’t planned on doing any of the Camino with him, but he thought he detected a hint of jealousy in their last telephone call. She may end up joining him next Spring when he returns to put a further dent in the remaining 720 km to Santiago.
In Villava, Antonio had also given the German pilgrim with brown nicotine stains on his white mustache 20 euros. The pilgrim had produced a broken gold Visa card to corroborate his story that an ATM had destroyed his only means of obtaining cash. Furthermore, he explained that he had spent the 2,000 euros in cash he had brought while traveling to Santiago and back (supposedly he was hiking all the way back to his starting point at St jean Pied de Port). He needed money for a bus ride to the closest German embassy in Madrid. On the surface his story checked out – he had the pilgrim’s passport filled with stamps from Refugios all the way to Santiago. He also carried a 45 liter yellow Deuter backpack with the pilgrim’s seashell on the back of it. If I wasn’t on the Camino, I would have probably kept on walking for fear of being taken for a sucker. And honestly, there were things that made me question his story. Why would you bring only one card with you on the Camino and how come there was no one back home to help him out? But we gave him enough money to get a bus to Madrid anyways. Sucker or not, I didn’t want bad karma on the rest of the trip for refusing to help a fellow pilgrim.
We discussed the matter for the next 5k before reaching the medieval walls of Pamplona. Pamplona is a city that has the Camino partly to thank for its current prosperity. Pilgrims coming from France having been using the city as a stop over since the 11th century. The steady stream of pilgrims provided the economic support to build the three churches the city has, not to mention the Parishioners to fill them up. After wishing Antonio well on his return trip, I visited the oldest of the three churches, Cathedral D Pamplona.
It’s a strange feeling to be the only person inside of a cathedral the size of two Football fields, but it was siesta time and I guessed most Spaniards were at home avoiding the heat. I made my way to the back of the cathedral and out into the cloister. In the middle of the Cloisters courtyard sit two large evergreen trees that reach up to the top of the surrounding 14th century walls. Rays of sunlight made clovers of light on the inside of the east facade as they passed through the negative space of the ornaments on the wall opposite. Every meter or so I stepped on a portion of the cloister walkway that sounded hallow. Looking down I could see numbers written on the ground, 231, 232, 233. The numbers designated to whom the tombs under my feet belonged to – maybe one to a former pilgrim…
5k past Larrasoana
Pamplona old town
A tomb in the middle of the cathedral’s nave
Flowers at tomb
30 meters down from the Municipal Refugio is a small supermarket with organic dried fruit, chorizo sausage and one euro glasses of wine.