I woke up feeling refreshed physically! My mind was spinning a million miles a minute with excited energy because I was so ready for my walk!!
I couldn’t fall asleep last night and went to bed around midnight because of this nervous energy.
I woke up around 6:00 AM, took a long shower, and was out by 7!
It was a peaceful morning in Pamplona. There weren’t many people out. I only saw a few sanitation workers, a handful of local people, and one other pilgrim at a corner store.
Today was my first official day walking alone because my friend left to go back home to France! I was a bit insecure when I started out walking, but with each step, my confidence grew, and I remembered I could take care of myself.
The Camino route leaving Pamplona “proper” is tranquil and feels a tad suburban (especially for a city girl). It’s a lovely peaceful walk on city streets. The route takes you through a public park and the University of Navarrete. Navarrete has a picture-perfect green campus lawn that reminds me of my college days in Connecticut, and the hours I spent soaking up the sun instead of studying for my exams.
If I return to Pamplona, I will spend some time on the campus lawn.
To leave Pamplona, I had to walk up a hill. I must be honest; I am slightly traumatized from walking up hills, but my cardiovascular strength has improved.
At the top of the hill (about 1 hour and 15 mins), after leaving Pamplona, there is a water fountain at Calle Santiago Bidea.
I didn’t have to worry too much about water along the way. I found a few places to refill, which was good because my water bag turned out to be a bust because the water tasted like plastic. So, I needed to keep filling my .8L plastic water bottle.
Then came my favorite second favorite part of the walk! The sunflower fields!!!!!
Sunflowers are a good omen for me, and it reminds me of my late grandfather. It’s also the favorite flower of my mother and me. It just brings me so much joy.
So, to my surprise, I saw a vast field of sunflowers a little after leaving Pamplona. This is just the first field of many sunflower fields along the way. This first was special because it was unexpected, and I could get very close to the flowers. The other fields were either surrounded by wheat fields or thorn bushes.
I started approaching the field for photos, but I couldn’t get as close as I wanted for a selfie because a local man named Chammy (with his dog) interrupted and excitedly offered to take my photo and then ensued a twenty-minute-long conversation along the route.
He gave me a long history lesson on the area. He explained the many states of Spain, and he told me about the state of Navarrete and the different towns that it composites. He also explained the culture of Basque. Chammy said that the Napoleon route from SJPDP is closed in the winter because of the heavy snow, but he enjoyed cross-country skiing there. He was a sweet man and reminded me of all the special people I keep meeting on the Camino.
After our conversation, I was a bit tired, so I decided to enjoy some plums. By the way, I noticed that there were quite many benches along the way, the most I’ve seen.
I walked through a few small towns today. First, I will point out that San Andres seems to be a good resting point after leaving Pamplona. It was tiny but had a local hostel, and I walked past a small shop that emitted delicious whiffs of baked goods.
I saw some other pilgrims stop here to enjoy a snack. However, instead of staying there, I decided to forge on because I was looking forward to resting when I got to the windmills!
Which was another surprise because I didn’t even know to expect windmills, and I love them! The only reason why I knew that I would see windmills was because I saw them from a distance.
The trek to the windmills was challenging, but I listened to some music and just kept imagining what it would feel like when I got to the top. The climb to the windmills was a long, slow, and gradual incline. I found myself out of breath, so I picked up a stone which I’d never done before to leave at the next trailhead at the top of the hill when I got to the windmills. This stone represented my fears and limitations.
Finally…I got to the top, and not only did I see windmills but also the famous sculpture of pilgrims made from metal. I had no idea to expect those either. I planned for the walk from a broad perspective but didn’t go into the details of what to expect along the way. Every day is a surprise, lol.
The feeling I got when I got to the top of the windmills was one of pure euphoria.
I was just so proud of myself. And I realized that this walk is something that no one can take from me.
At the top of the windmills, I took pictures of the sky. Then, I sat beneath them and almost got blown away (it was so windy up there).
And I just felt incredible.
I was exhausted, but I could just almost feel the energy from the windmills in my body. So, I also wrote a journal entry, reflecting on the power of the windmills and what it represents for humanity.
Now it was time for me to go back right downhill from the windmills…I kid you not; I was smiling as I went down the hill.
Something to be aware of:
Almost immediately, once you leave the windmills and go back in the path downhill, on the right, you will see these benches that have these colossal stone sculptures on them.
They look beautiful…but guess what, they’re not supposed to be there.
I met a lovely couple at this point from Pamplona, and they vented their frustrations too. They always walked this route, and they said that these rocks should not be on the benches, but they should be on the ground. They said that the stones prevent the path from flooding when it rains. They were kind of upset about people putting rocks on the benches because the rocks weren’t there three weeks ago. It looks like pilgrims are to blame for that. They usually sit there and eat their lunch. So, they began to remove the rocks and sat there for lunch.
They relaxed after a bit and shared a bit about themselves. Then, they did this thing where they parked their car in Puente, walked back home, and walked back again to Puente, and then drove back. I just love how couples spend time with each other here.
Back to the walk:
I felt the descent down from the windmills was nuts and quite painful for my ankles. I think this was because the whole path was made from huge stones and pebbles. This path went on for a whileeeee.
I texted my boyfriend at one point and said, “Babe, I don’t think there could be any material worse to walk downhill on besides heated spikes.”
At some point, there were steps, but they were challenging for my short little legs to get down. 😓
This part of the journey took me mentally mapping and focusing on ensuring I didn’t step my foot at the wrong angle and twist my ankles. This was the only part of the Camino where I kind of wish that I had walking poles. But instead of complaining and feeling sorry for myself, I decided just to take a whole bunch of pictures of the local fauna. Along the way, I couldn’t believe all the beautiful flowers I saw as I walked!
There were a few more hills as I continued my walk, but mostly just quiet walks through tiny towns. These towns seemed very sleepy and almost eerie. Except for cars parked on the streets, there was virtually no human presence. However, the homes were cute, and I imagined how beautiful it must be to have a house up there and to live in such scenery.
I roamed around some of these towns and took pictures of old churches, doors, and cute windowsills.
I will be honest that the last hour of my walk was very hard for me physically and emotionally.
I had to use the encouragement from my boyfriend, who was texting me every couple of minutes saying, “you have two miles left,” “you have one mile left,” because I was feeling tired.
I think it might be related to not seeing enough at the beginning of my day. I have been opting to eat breakfast because I don’t like just having bread for breakfast, and I ran out of my instant oatmeal.
I did stop for lunch and had a tortilla, but it was probably not enough calories? Not sure. Maybe the last hour of any 5-hour long walk is difficult?
By the end, I couldn’t walk faster, so I just walked slower and took more pictures. I also find myself counting in my head, doing deep breathing exercises, and focusing my energy on creating a rhythm with my mind and body.
Then I got to Puente! I am staying in a private room at hostel Jakue, which is incredible. The hosts are incredibly welcoming. There’s a beautiful restaurant and bar on site. I checked in and dropped my stuff off.
Then it was time for me to go on a bit of journey of getting money from ATM. I also wanted to try to go to the supermarket to see if I could find some more instant oatmeal. My trip to the supermarket across town was successful because it was open, and I made it, but not successful because they did not have the oatmeal that I was looking for.
But I will try in the next city.
I decided it was time for me to eat. So, I took the recommended date, accepted the recommendation from a friend, and sat at a place where the food was pretty good. I sat outside in the square under the sun. I got paella with chicken and a mixed salad and a coke.
As I walked through the town to return to my hostel, I just couldn’t believe how old and ancient some of these buildings were and that they were still standing. The stories they can tell!
The town was tranquil, and there weren’t that many people out, so the streets felt like they were mins.
I also stopped at a church. I think it’s called the Church of the crucifix, and I said a prayer. I probably sat there for about 15 or 20 minutes and journaled.
Then I slowly made my way back to the hostel. For the rest of the evening, I will rest, stretch, and keep my legs up these walls to elevate stress.
My traps are very tight even though my bag is appropriately adjusted, and I worked on keeping my posture correct all day. I guess it’s just one of those things where my body will adapt and get used to this level of activity.
My friend told me that she didn’t find many food places along the route to Estella. So I asked the hostel to make me an egg sandwich for tomorrow. That is all for now. Oh, I highly recommend this hostel so far, even though it is cold!