We leave in the morning after a full breakfast.
We (I) immediately have to deal with a large group of Americans walking at somewhat the same speed as we are. It takes a while before we’re far enough ahead that we can stop for water without hearing that one man who seems to be doing all the talking coming up behind us.
The day is difficult. After the dramatic views of yesterday, walking through the woods is fairly boring.
The day is long, 8 hrs, and more difficult than we have been led to expect. Especially the descents are pretty grueling.
I do a lot of thinking about all the people around us, not the solitary ones or the couples, but the groups. All through France we saw at most 2 or 3 pilgrims walking on the same day as we were. We shared the refugios with at most 8 people. The people we met were fairly quiet. Now, we walk with 150 other pilgrims. In the months of May and June, when the Spanish highlands are covered with wildflowers, in September, after the scorching summer, over 600 people day leave from St Jean Pied de Port every day! Their gregariousness, their desire to share life experiences and cultural insights with everyone around them are good qualities. It is up to me to figure out how to deal with all this.
By the afternoon, we’ve all spread out so far that Des and I are pretty much on our own again.
We walk to Akerreta where we stay at a wonderful 300 year old farm house that apparently was one of the settings in the movie “The Way”...
There’s only one other pilgrim staying there and we have a very pleasant dinner together. I call her the Woman from the States because she has a completely different approach to the camino. She’s on sabbatical and has visited London, Paris and Iona, in Scotland, in the last two weeks, visiting places of worship. Now she is doing something called “The Best of the Camino”, where she is picked up every few days and taken to another highlight along the way. She bought her equipment in St Jean Pied de Port, her baggage is transferred every day and when she got tired on the way from Roncesvalles to Akerreta, she got a taxi to pick her up...
Quite different from the red-faced Danish girl who was doing the camino for the sixth time, with a ten kilo backpack containing among other things, a tea kettle and a kilo and a half of breakfast food!
We each have our own camino...