I got in to Pamplona quite early on Day 4, around 11.50, just as the alebergue was opening for the day, and prepared myself for a good rest. After a lengthy douche and siesta, I set out for a bite at Cafe Iruna made famous by Ernest Hemingway and to figure out what I was going to do about my deteriorating physical condition.
Pamplona was the first proper city I passed through, and I always find the reclaiming of civilization a delight. Ornate three story building lining narrow winding paths that open onto grand plazas with similarly grand municipal and parochial buildings. Terrifying to imagine the place swarming with tourists and raging bulls. Here, one can find, ice, Compeed, ATMs,, and Correos (the post office).
That would be my solution to the physical pain – send some things ahead t0 Santiago.
When I left Florida for Spain, I also had planned to make pitstops at a wedding in New York and dinner parties in Boston and so had to pack accordingly. I had read the prohibitions against carrying more than 10k, but figured that was for old people and wooses. I could carry a computer, two guide books, and a suit across Spain: no problem.
My legs felt differently.
I tried to talk the German ladies running the albergue into making the post office run for me in the morning. My reasoning: the PO was closed now and wouldn’t open until late tomorrow, I don’t speak Spanish – you do, I don’t know exactly how this listo de correos thing works – you do, I’ll pay a little extra for the trouble. They were having none of it, and so day 5 was delayed by several hours.
The Pamplona correos mercifully opened at 8.30, so the delay was not so great. I arrived a little early and formed a queue with some Italian and German pilgrims who had made similar realizations about their physical limitations. At 9 o’clock after spending time at every window and speaking with every employee, I was on my way, 6 kilos lighter, 15 euros poorer (Those Italians and Germans shipping stuff home were a good 60 euros lighter), and invigorated with new vitality. I caught myself singing “I – could – walk – five – hundred – miles.”
I walked and I walked and I walked getting to know this new ease in walking and knowing that I was very far behind schedule.
Nevertheless, I made it to Puente la Reina, the projected destination for day fivers, at 3pm. Fearing, the municipal albergue at the beginning of town would be booked and wanting a good start for the next day, I walked on through the middle of town and ultimately up an unexpected and very steep hill to the new private albergue. Where beds were plentiful and Casper and others from St. Jean, Roncasvalles, and Zubiri were in residence.