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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

April 16

April 16th, 2016

April 16

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Bells, horns, birds, and bicycles. It took a long time to clear the Pamplona city limits, though it was a good walk. The parks are mature and well maintained, the path was clearly marked with metal scallop shell disks set in the sidewalk. An early Saturday morning, so the streets were empty except for the runners. The trek to Puente la Reina was mostly on a path going up over a ridge lined with windmills–a path shared with Saturday morning mountain bike riders. As usual, the way was lined with pilgrims, some familiar, some new. I encountered an older woman walking in boots, but also a shawl and long dress. I felt certain she was a nun, and just as I passed, I heard a ringing and thought it must be a pilgrim’s bell, an idea quickly abandoned when it sounded again right behind me and I jumped to avoid a speeding bicycle–so much for medieval reverie. At the peak were a series of sheet-metal pilgrim silhouettes and some food trucks, then a rapid descent down past trees full of birds. I heard a loud, arresting bird call echoing off the trees which became more and more insistent. Then, once again, a bicycle rushed past on the way down the hill, horn blaring. I guess the lesson is to stop romanticizing the aural landscape. Still, the views on the ridges– fields of rapeseed with forts, churches, and castles on the rises–were spectacular, as was the weather which alternated between bright sun and light rain with clouds mounding up on the horizon promising late day fireworks. Each town had squares, statues, and churches that invited lingering, with Puenta La Reina also offering narrow alleys with shops and restaurants tucked into narrow entryways. The Auberge Santiago Apostle (recommended by the Germans who ran last night’s Auberge) was a new structure set up on the hill half a click up a hill. Clean, efficient, and full of many of my acquaintances, it felt a lot like a locker room. After a shower and quick email check, I headed back into town, hotfooting it just ahead of the storm, to find a tapas bar out of the rain and in the midst of the locals, all enjoying a wet, low-key afternoon. That seems to be life on the way, Buen Camino!

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