Stage 4 Pamplona to Puente La Reina. Todays walk was just about perfect. I started a little later then I like at 7:00 and spent about 30+ minutes walking out of the city of Pamplona. I am not a big fan of the time the Camino spends in Urban areas. It tends to be hard to follow the path as the markers can be difficult to find. If you loss your way you may need to walk back and find where you went wrong and it is both frustrating and seemingly huge waste of time. It is a times like this that you need to remind yourself that time is one thing you have plenty of. You can probably guess what’s coming next – I got lost this morning for about 15 minutes but was able to find my way back when I saw a couple of pilgrims on the other side of the park from where I was.
This is when the day quickly I proved. One of the pilgrims I saw was Stefano my Italian friend that I prepared dinner with the other night (see stage 2). Stefano is a recently retired doctor (immunologist) from southern Italy and a great talker. Passionate about everything, as far as I can tell, and an amateur botanist particularly interested in edible wild plants (how very Italian of him). The day consisted of walking 5 hours in both rain and sun, both up and down hill and getting and giving a language, cooking and botany lesson, with family and a little politics on the side (in full agreement on all things political that came up). It was a 5 hour conversation with long periods of silence on some of my favorite subjects.
The thing you learn quickly out here is that folks who come to Spain as a group tend to stay as one to the exclusion of others. Folks who travel alone meet far more people and experience the Camino not just through one’s own eyes but that through eyes and life experience of others.
There are all kinds of way to do the Camino
For many of us, myself include, traveling alone can be lonely but if you take the opportunity find others along the ways you can also find a new perspective. One of the wonderful things about my sabbatical this year is that not only am I traveling alone now, but later I will be traveling with Priscilla my wife – the best companion along the way I could ever be blessed to have.