We left home early this morning (Saturday 18th April) and I’m tired. Last night I couldn’t sleep. Why am I doing this again? Why am I leaving home? The garden is growing., Gerry is busy, gigs are starting… why leave all of this and go walk?
This mood hung over me all morning on the drive down to St Jean. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now it’s all happening I just wonder what on earth I’m doing?
But then I can see the mountains and we arrive at St Jean and it all feels really exciting again. I’m here, I’m back on the camino!
First we looked for the Pilgrims Office to see if it’s ok to start walking today. I fill out my little form and get my stamp and they tell me it should be fine this afternoon but there a storm is forecast for tonight… so dont hang around! I pre-booked my bed at Orisson so at least I know I’ve got somewhere to sleep.
One little dampner was learning that my camino bank card didn’t work! Lucky that we tried it before Gerry left! He took out 300€ for me but that’s all I have now until he comes to meet me next week… although I did manage to prise his UK credit card from him just in case of emergency and I’m wondering if he didn’t plan this all to keep my spending in check… although where on a mountain can I shop!?
So, rucksack on and off we go. Our planned romantic picnic and sunny stroll together was cut very short by a sudden downpour. A quick hug and Gerry dashed back to the car and I put on Theresa’s blue grim poncho and felt strangely comforted. I’m alone again on the camino.
The countryside was rolling rather than steep and the wild flowers are really in abundance everywhere. The rain lasted for just a few minutes and when the sun came out it was very hot. I could hear the thunder growling away in the distance but it seems a long way away. I strolled along taking photos and taking in the view and contemplating how great is was to be back.
A few minutes in and a tall chap steps along beside me and falls into my pace. “how far are you going?” he asked… at which point I naturally assumed he must be a pilgrim so we chatted about our trip and where we planned to walk. He is called Hogni although for the first week of the walk I called him Huckner? He is from the Faroe Islands and so I discovered lots about Faroe and Danish history. However, Hogni is tall and much fitter than me and we both quickly realised that we were walking at a different pace. I excused myself and I stopped to photograph the flowers and wished him a Buen Camino.
After 2 hours I stopped to check my feet… there is no way I’m going to get blisters on this walk! Four Spanish men walked passed, coming down from the mountain. “Only 3 km to Orisson” they called and offered me my first Buen Camino… and it sounded so good.
At Hunto I started to consider the steepness of the path ahead, crikey it was steep and I slowed my pace. Oh my word! Maybe I should have done some training after all! My legs burned and my chest hurt and I even stopped and sent Gerry a text explaining how steep it was. I fear I may have said the F word.
Then 50 metres out of Hunto the herd arrived; inevitable for me! Four legged and horned but this herd baad and bleated… but I still wanted to run away crying sheep! sheep! sheep! However, running up that hill was simply out of the question so I stopped and pretended to be charmed by the rural splendour and took photos instead. It was an excuse for a rest but honestly I was a teeny bit terrified. Then I got the giggles thinking of that ‘other’ incident and Teresa hiding behind the bins… will this mini camino ever live up to the last?
From here it got really steep and at times I honestly did wonder if I would make it. Genuinely I felt there was nothing left and I think this was the slowest couple of kilometres I’ve ever walked. I had been smug enough to think that I would retain enough fitness from last year but I was learning now that this was a BIG mistake!
All around the thunder rumbled away, getting closer now. And then I was back on the road at Gerry’s beloved table of orientation… and so I stood looking out at the view and how far I’d walked. But, time was pressing, the sky was getting darker, so I had to walk on. I also swaped sides on the road and walked on the far side away from the edge as I was weaving around and there’s quite a drop!
I rounded the next a corner praying that it would be Orisson but no.. I could have cried… how long can it take to walk 3km? but YEAH, then it was there… hiding out of sight and hidden until you’re virtually upon it. I think I skipped the last 100 metres. It had taken me around 3.5 hours to walk from St Jean and I wondered how I would cope tomorrow.
It’s now 21.20 on a Saturday night and my face is still hot and red… but I’ve had a great meal in the company of 5 Australians, a couple of ladies from Texas and a few dutch folk… and am about to turn in for the night. There’s a huge storm blowing but it’s meant to clear by morning.
Hogni is here and I also met a guy from Exeter over dinner. He looks just like Dean Capel. .. sounds like him too… and works for BT… it’s a small world we live in… and I’m sleeping tonight on the side of a mountain!