A tunnel provides
sure passage from here to there,
revealing the way.
The walk out of Pamplona was beautiful. The sky was clear, the temperature cool and crisp, the path dry, with no rain in sight. I anticipated today's walk, the steep climb to Alto del Perdon, with the iconic, metal statues where, "the path of the wind crosses the path of the stars". I remembered this wind and the massive turbines that increased in size the closer I got to the summit. My mind began to wander and before I knew it, I realized I hadn't seen an arrow marking the way for some time. Not yet believing I was lost, I walked on, coming to a tunnel bathed in layers of light. Mesmerized, I slowly walked through it and upon exit, my eyes focused on a way-marker assuring me I was on the right path. From here on, I would better focus...the difficult part of the day was fast approaching.
After a mid-morning stop for my café con leche about halfway up, I met Helle from Denmark and walked with her on and off until reaching the summit. One beauty of the Camino is that pilgrims ebb and flow; sometimes walking for days together; sometimes only for minutes. We all have our own pace but when pace matches, partnerships are formed and friendships, although varied, can last a day or sometimes, a lifetime.
Once at the summit, Helle stopped to take in the amazing view and write in her journal. I went on, focusing on each step, trying to convince myself that if I could make it through this day without pain, I would not have to endure the tendonitis I did the year before, since this is where my leg began to hurt.
The downhill path consisted of rocks of varying size, sliding underfoot. It was difficult, and also necessary to will myself to slow. It was easy to get going too fast because of the downhill grade. I focused on every step. It wasn't until with only 2k left to go that blisters opened up and made each step agony. But, what's 2k, right? I had survived one of the most difficult climbs and descents of the entire Camino.
Once in Puenta la Reina, where I would stop for the night, I found a Farmacia and managed to spend a whole day's budget restocking tape, bandages and cream recommended by the pharacist to "without a doubt" heal my blisters in 2-3 days. At this point, I'd try most anything...but, "without a doubt" left me a bit suspicious, sort of like the words, always and never.
The day concluded with dinner and conversation with a couple of Australian friends. After helado, we parted ways, hopeful since we were moving in the same direction, the ebb and flow would again find us walking together, another day.