The first day of the Camino de Frances is the hardest. It’s 27km, through the Pyrenees, to the next village, with very few resources in between: a cafe or two, some water fountains, and magnificent vistas of wheat waving on the mountainsides speckled by poppies.
It’s a long arduous journey that necessitates an early start. I, of course, overslept, luxuriating in my private room, luckily oversleeping is relative. I was out the door by 8.30, and even after walking a few kilometers down the wrong route and having to ask directions from an old French man back to the Route Napoleon found myself back in the fray. That Australian I met the night before, started 45 min earlier and caught up to me mid-mountain.
I bonded with a Korean over duk boki and a German over the need to install a slide on the descent to Roncasvalles: seriously hard.
Once at the albergue, I was bit disconcerted to discover I was on the third floor and in one of the last of 300 beds. There really were a great deal of people on the Camino this year – the year after the holy year.
The only reservation for dinner I could get, was at 8.30, a good Spanish hour, I presume. I sat with a Dutch couple who deigned to speak English with me and a Puerto Rican living in Sweden. The Dutch were very interested in speaking with the Puerto Rican about how Americans had systematically faulted the Puerto Ricans and only interested in me when they discovered I knew a thing or two about Oland Island.