Climbing an amount of mountains between France and Spain was not the easiest and peaceful experience of my life. On the contrary. I suffered with the cold, the rain and the snow. I felt helpless in the midst of that ferocious nature. For the first time I asked myself what I was doing there …
But before I get to that point, some considerations. Still in the hostel in SJPP, the brazilian pilgrim Fernando said to me: “Carol, your backpack is too heavy. It’s better you take some things off, otherwise you can not climb the Pyrenees. ” The first shock … It seemed that my experience with detachment starts before walking.
I went back to my room and analyzed what I would remove from the backpack … without much time to reflect, I took the bag of cashew nuts, protein bars and sachets of carbohydrates, a perfume in plastic packaging, my Bible – who had won from my aunt Jo on my 15th birthday (!) … it was one of those thin sheets that when compressed is well heavy. In fact, I was aware that my Bible wouldn’t help me accomplish the Way of Santiago, but much more my connection with God. I detached! After that I distributed the food with other pilgrims and left my Bible in the hostel books session.
In SJPP, in front of Beilari Hostel.
Still in Beilari, I heard some pilgrims that were discussing about take the Route of Napoleon (most common) or the Route of Valcarlos (some covered) to reach Roncesvalles. They would sleep in Orisson or follow up until Roncesvalles on the same day. Immediately, i realized I did not know what about they were talking… i didn’t know nothing about those routes… Well, at least I didn’t memorize so many details during the Camino’s preparation.
Orisson is a small place with hostel and restaurant located in the ascent to the Pyrenees. Many pilgrims choose to stop there and the next day go up the Pyrenees. When they asked me where I was going, I answered that I would go until Roncesvalles. LOL. In the end, I was grateful for not having known that alternative path in time to climb the Pyrenees in one day, because I could test my limits and see how strong I can be when required to that.
The fact is take a little break in Orisson made me happy. Before arriving at the only hostel / local restaurant, I found Jelena, a Croatian woman, who would become my guardian angel on the Way <3, and rediscovered Renato, from Brazil, that would be a great support and that would embrace me upon arriving in Santiago, and Finja, a Germain woman, who had been at the hostel than me the day before.
I, Renato, Finja (black t-shirt), Jelena (pink coat) and I
You know the initial excitement that makes you realize the unimaginable !? That’s how I describe my first day on the Way. Writing from the comfort of my home today, I think and rethink how I was able to do that, especially considering the lack of phisical preparation …
The distance/path between SJPP to Roncesvalles, for almost unanimity of pilgrims is the most difficult at the entire Camino. The pilgrim walks 27.1 km of which 22 km are pure ascent. I climbed from 200m altitude in SJPP to 1430m altitude in Col Lepoeder, then went down to 950m above sea level in Roncesvalles.
I remember that it was raining at the peak. It was snowing and the visibility was bad. The company of Jelena was super important because we could talk and forget some of the tension of the moment.
Jelena and I crossing the Pyrenees.
In the downhill stretch, my knees reminded me of the chondromalacia patella hereditary desease I have. I cried! I cried because the pain and with the excitement for spotting the day be taken by a beautiful blue that contrasted with green and brown trees and leaves. I remembered those people who are most dear to my heart
Focus, faith and strength
In Roncesvalles, I spent the night in a great new location hostel with impressive infrastructure. I slept in a separate cabin, with more than two plugs just for me. LOL. That would be one of the best hostels all over the road.
Hostel details in Roncesvalles.
My space :p
Still trying to get the pilgrims’ habits, I noticed how much I would need to be practical and objective to go to shared bathrooms, to leave my stuff organized and to use the toilet. In general, the pilgrims take only one bath a day, which is when they reach at the destination city. My conclusion is this happen due to the fact that the feet need to be very dry in the morning in order to be prepared to face the day walk. Eventual humidity combined with the foot of friction, with the socks and the boot can generate blisters. Other than that, the mornings were always very cold…
The fact is that I went with the flow … I can say that I took 31 baths during the 31 days on the Camino de Santiago (!) LoL. By the way, this was the second exercise of detachment that the Camino imposed me. The “tupiniquins” (brazilian indians) habits of hygiene and cleaning were reserved for when I returned to Brazil … = p