{camino: day 4} zubiri to pamplona

I sent my backpack ahead again because the walk was to be 13 miles and anything over 10 miles to me was a killer. I decided I’d try to carry my pack every day the distance was 10 miles or less, but I’d see how my resolve would hold up. After all, it only cost 5 euros to send a bag ahead, making the way much more pleasant. Yet. I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty when I did it.

In the morning, still feeling heavy over the previous night’s events, I walked with Carolyn from Iowa 5.3 km to Larrasoaña, which had been sheltering pilgrims for almost a thousand years, and another 3.8km to Zuriáin.  I shared with her about my loved one. Carolyn had had numerous problems with her son while he was in college at Notre Dame.  He stopped showing up for class and she had to give permission for the university to go into his apartment to check on him.  He had to lose a semester and then reapply.  Another time he was taken to a hospital in a semi-comatose state.  He finally got himself together and graduated in May in IT Management. This conversation eased my fears and made me feel less alone.  On the other hand, she told of her schizophrenic sister who is into Morgan Horses and hears voices. I felt anxiety clutch me inside, thinking about my loved one.

I believed this sharing among pilgrims is one of the reasons that people say “the Camino provides.”

The path followed a level course through a wood.  The río Arga bubbled along beside us. When we arrived at Zuriáin, we stopped at a lovely pilgrim cafe, La Parada de Zuriáin, alongside the river. Here, I ran into Ingrid, who had been walking with Stephanie from Maine, to whom she introduced me. I updated Ingrid about the phone call from last night, and they both expressed sympathy and wished our family well.  Ingrid’s pace was faster than mine, so I said Buen Camino as they went ahead.  I also let Carolyn go ahead because I needed some contemplative time.

The café was peaceful and relaxing.  I ate a spinach tortilla and orange juice while sitting on the lawn.  I took my socks off to inspect my feet. They were hurting and some of my toes were reddish, so I put on some moleskin.  Claire, of the newlywed couple (Claire & Matt) I’d met at Suseia, offered to let me use her silk liner socks which seemed to help reduce the friction, although my feet and legs remained sore all day.

From Zuriáin, I fell into step with Claire, Matt, and John from Houston as we walked 3.3km to Zabaldika. Claire, an ESL teacher from Dayton, Ohio, had applied to teach English with the English Program in Korea (EPIK), just as I did from 2010-2011; she had an interview coming up in the next week.  She asked me questions about working in Korea, and I told her she would most definitely get the job as she was already qualified. When I went, I was much less qualified.

The path continued alongside the río Arga, with splendid views and the soothing sound of running water.

Later, walking on to Puente de Arre (3.7km) alone with John, I got choked up as the conversation turned to my loved one.  He told me his son dropped out of high school his freshman year but then was home-schooled, and that both of his kids have struggled with depression.  John was carrying his pack and complaining of back pain. He was 66, retired from his career as an industrial salesperson, but his wife was still working in title insurance in Austin, TX and loved her job. She was to turn 63 on October 26, one day after my own 63rd birthday, so he’d return home by then. He and I stuck together for a long time, but I wished I could shake him because I desperately wanted quiet time.

Approaching Arleta, we stopped in the shade at a country house with a hermitage attached.  The path leveled off and gave us a great view of the valley of the Arga. It was quite hot by this time, and we were exhausted. After this, we lost sight of the river.

We crossed the medieval bridge, Trinidad de Arre, with its six arches, and admired the río Ultzama. Just past that is a medieval hostel, but we were bound for Pamplona.  On the calle Mayor (high street), we stopped at a cafe where I devoured some tapas – toast topped with skewered shrimp, an egg slice, and a little stuffed phyllo packet.

I left John behind to make the long slog (3.8km) through the city streets to the 12th century Puente de Magdalena and into Pamplona through the gates of the walled city.  I was so tired I could hardly pick up my feet, so I stopped for a long while to rest on a bench, where John eventually caught up with me.

This long walk into Pamplona was jarring to the senses after walking all day on rural paths. The path was on hard city pavements and suburban streets with much traffic.


walking through the outskirts of Pamplona


the long slog into Pamplona


outskirts of Pamplona


getting closer to Pamplona

We crossed the famous pilgrim bridge, the 12th century Puente de Magdalena, and entered the city over the drawbridge and through the splendid Portal de Zumalacárregi, also called Portal de Francia, a reminder that Pamplona has welcomed pilgrims from France since medieval times.


Portal de Zumalacárregi


streets of old Pamplona


streets of old Pamplona

The urban part of today’s route ended at the door of the 15th century Cathedral of Santa María la Real.  Just as the Way always passes by the main church in smaller towns, in the cities it runs to the cathedral.


Cathedral of Santa María la Real

Once in Pamplona, I checked into Albergue Plaza Cathedral, directly across from the cathedral. I was assigned a top bunk again. I planned to stay two nights in Pamplona.  Out on the plaza, after doing my laundry and taking a shower, I had a glass of wine with Claire and Matt, Tim from Atlanta, a Brazilian girl, and Heather, who I’d met at Beilari. When I shared my struggles over my loved one, Heather said our family needed to have a plan in place for dealing with him in case he attempted suicide.


Cathedral of Santa María la Real

Feeling heavy and weary, I wandered around Pamplona and found myself in the midst of a lively festival and parade. Apparently, this festival is the Privilege of the Union, which commemorates the unification of the three parts of the city (La Navarrería, San Cernín and San Nicolás) into one in a treaty signed by King Carlos III in 1423. Each of the three boroughs at that time lost their individual walls and individual governments and opted to be governed by a single council and enclosed within the same city walls.


Festival in Pamplona

As I wandered aimlessly, I met up by accident with Lisa from Leesburg, Virginia (I’d met her in Orisson). We had dinner with another pilgrim named Sandy from Minnesota.  I ate a tuna-egg salad with wine and shared some of Lisa’s risotto.

Lisa lost her sister Kathy 15 years ago but felt she’d never properly mourned her.  Both of her flights to Spain were reported to be full, yet she had an empty seat beside her on both flights, as if Kathy were traveling with her. She got very emotional while sharing this.  Later, when I shared the issues with my loved one, Sandy wasn’t sympathetic; she said it sounded like “a lot of drama,” as if to brush it off.  I was quite taken aback by that.

It turned out Lisa had met Lindy and her partner on her flight from Dulles.  I’d met Lindy on a hike with my Virginia hiking group in early spring and had talked to her a long time about her sons, who both live in Colorado, and her visit to Crestone, Colorado, where I ended up going last May to visit my youngest son.  I hadn’t crossed paths with Lindy yet on the Camino; I knew she had planned to start on September 6, two days after I did, and Lisa said they’d made a stop in Bayonne for two nights.

Later, my loved one texted my husband to say he had an interview at Chipotle and the manager sounded positive but hadn’t called.  He also had an interview with a garden center.  That made me feel a little more hopeful. My husband planned to go to NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), a group for relatives of mentally ill people, on Saturday.

*Day 4: Friday, September 7, 2018*

*35,418 steps, or 15.01 miles: Zubiri to Pamplona (20.9 km)*

You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:


On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Fuseta at Blossom Time.