OK! I’ll try to catch up!

Pamplona to Puente La Reina was 20something km. In theory.

Blister Count: 8 from the first day. I popped one that was ridiculously annoying.

Injury Inventory: Feet sore, but the silicone insoles I bounght in Pamplona seemed to help, but they also made my boots a little smaller – grrrrr.

This was an absolutely brutal day for me. And, it was my 28th birthday. I didn’t really say anything to anyone, felt weird, cuz I only had just met everyone.

After my new morning ritual of spending 15 minutes taping my toes separate so they don’t rub each other and blister (which is my main problem, not my shoes rubbing) , I set out for the intense upward climb for who knows how may kilometers up to the Alto del Perdon, with beautiful views and windmills dotting the landscape (modern ones, not Don Quixote types).

At the top I was all optomistic, I thought “Wow! I feel way better than I thought I would! Aren’t I just a maquina!” Ha ha ha! Then we went downhill, and I realized I was anything but a maquina as my toes got battered, already sore and being a bit squished by the insoles. My knee started to hurt. It was not good.

This was discouraging, as there was a building, a Hermitage – the Ermita de Santa Eunate – that I really wanted to see but which was a hour detour or more from the Camino. I started to think I would just have to give it up. My boots felt like bricks, and every step was pinching more and more, and to top it off – it got reeeeeaaaaallllly hot.

But, as always, the Camino finds a way. I ran into two guys I had been walking with on the first day and they motivated me to go. I thought “I’ts my birthday, I really want to see some architecture on this trip, I should go for it!” So I swallowed an ibuprofen, drank some more water, iced my feel in a little town called Muruzabal and went hobbling off in the sun.

Santa Eunate was beautiful. (I’ll try to find a photo soon – in this internet cafe there’s no way for me to even save images to then upload – that,and I can’t access gmail, its janky) Its super tiny, romanesque (the style best represented along the Camino) and isolated in a lovely setting. And it was soooo cool inside, it was a perfect resting spot. Big stone architecture beats crappy prefab houses with air conditioning any day of the week.

Then off I hobbled to Puente La Reina. By Obanos (about 3km from Puente la Reina) i thought I was dead. BUt I pressed on. We got to the town. First hostel is full. We press on. Second hostel is full. There is a third one. One we have heard talk of – a land of paradise, cruelly situated up a giant hill at the other end of town. This is after nearly 30 km by this time.

I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. I walked. I saw the hill I had to go up (this is under the 2o´clock sun, mind you, I’m sweltering) and I started up. Didn’t see anything. Kept going. Didn´t see anything. There were some British tourists near me, and when I went heaving around a bend and still didn’t see anything I did cry out in despair, knowing they would understand “Where IS this place!?!?!” . They were sympathetic, which was what I really wanted after all. I pressed on.

And there it was. Gleaming. Beautiful. With a pool.

I took a shower, did my laudry by hand, had a clara con limon (beer with .lemon fanta for those who don’t know) and iced my feet.

Sitting at the bar I befriended two Italians, from Naples, same place as my boyfriend. I love that automatic in I get with all the millions of italians on this trip once I mention I go out with a Neapolitan.

We sat out on the grass, chatting, drinking beers (and lots of water) and just to finish off the deliciousness after the brutality of the afternoon, a big fat thunderstorm brewed up. Rain. I was so exctied. Other folks were all upset and I cannot understand that. After such a punishing day, it was perfect. Nature’s aircon.

The Italians happened to ask how old I was so I told them it was my birthday and then at dinner of course they insisted on making a big do, and singing, and I downed too much wine (they served me a beer mug of white wine! not even knowing it was my birthday! WTF!!), while limping through conversations alternating between Spanish English and Italian,making a whole new fantastic set of friends. Imay speak Italian by the end of the month.

I drank too much white wine, and teetered off to bed at about 11. A satisfying birthday all told.