September 15, 2017
Roncesvalles to Zubiri
Everyone said today was going to be so easy after yesterday. Not True!
Today I walked 14 miles and it took me about five hours. There are so many pilgrims. I can’t imagine how many there are in the Summer. But after a couple hours, the spacing between us broadens and it’s not unusual to walk alone for twenty minutes before seeing someone.
It started out so peacefully, a flat path winding through a forest. Through a tiny town….where Hemingway brought his wife to relax. We walked through a field of glowing green grass that was so breathtaking that people were inspired to mimic Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music and sing “The hills are alive. We walked up rolling hills. And of course, what goes up must come down. There were many miles walking on descending muddy paths. By the time I got to Zubiri, I was whopped!
I´m getting into a routine of a shower, wash clothes, dinner and bed. I met up with a group that that I started from St. Jean and had a pilgrims dinner at the local bar. In Spain, restuarants are called a bar. A pilgrims dinner is normally a piece of chicken, couple of potatoes and a glass of wine for 10 euros.
September 16, 2017
Zubiri to Zabaldika
Today was a short and much easier day that was wonderful. I walked just 7 miles. The trail was flatter and followed a slow running river. I walked through many small villages. In one, I stopped for a coffee and bought a baguette, olives, manchego cheese and made delicious sandwiches. So simple and good.
The sun was shining and it got quite hot. In one tiny town, I drank about a gallon of water from a fountain before comprehending the sign beside it that said in Spanish “Not safe for drinking”. Great. So now I probably have worms.
Just a few minutes before entering Zabaldia, a woman had walked past me, told me she was a local and that at the fork I should walk to the right, to the church-convent that I was staying for the night. The church was at the top of a hill and the trail was not inviting but I took that route since it had been recommended. We were so glad we did.
The Church of St. Stephen in Zabaldika, a tiny church built in the early 13th century that has not had any major renovations since. At the door, a woman greeted me and handed me a copy of the Beatitudes of the Pilgrim. Inside, the church was cool and dark. A crucifix hung with neon green post-its surrounding it. Looking closer, these were personal notes, written in many languages, that pilgrims had left. I was allowed to climb to the bell tower through a tiny stone circular staircase. When I got to the top, I rang a bell. Apparently, the bronze bell that I rang is said to be the oldest in the whole region of Navarra Spain.
The convent is adjacent to the church and has twenty’eight beds for pilgrims. It´s a very peaceful place with a nice garden. The nuns work hard at making my stay comfortable. This is the best overnight stay so far.
Going over the mountains