Day #1: St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles, 25.1km

***Please note: I am finally at an Albergue with working internet, so I am going to do my darndest to get caught up on the blog. The posts are going to be in order of days walked, with destinations in the title to make it easier for you to follow along.

04.17.2010
First off, dinner last night at Espirit du Chemin was AMAZING!! (you will see me using this word a lot in this blog) It was the perfect way to start the Camino. All of the guests sat around the tables and introduced themselves, where they were from and why they were doing the Camino. The food was delicious. There was a veggie/bean soup, followed by rice with several sides, served Indonesian-style. I got to bed by 10p to try and get an early start in the morning.

We had a quick breakfast of cereal and cafe au lait in the morning. We did our grocery shopping the day before but needed to pick up some bread, so we stopped and got bread before finally heading out the Porte d'Espagne and up the hill towards Roncesvalles. It was 8a.

At some point, Kimberley and Viviana (aka The Mountain Goats) passed me and I spent the rest of the day walking by myself. The elevation change over the day was 1390 meters and to be honest I just don´t do well on hills. Carrying a 15+ kg pack did not help at all. I'm still not really sure how the pack got so heavy. Part of the problem is that this Camino is just the beginning of a four and a half month trek around the world. If I had just been doing the Camino, then it would have been easy to have a 7 or 8kg backpack.

As the day progressed, I had to stop several times to apply Compeed to the hotspots on my feet. The views of the Pyrenees were quite amazing and spectacular. The land around here is very pastoral, with lots of agriculture and animals. I would be walking along and hear "cowbells" only to see horses or sheep or cows grazing on grass.

I made it to the Cruciero late in the afternoon with 10.7km still to go! I saw a couple of people going up the hill with packs and they vaguely looked like "The Canadians"!! I heard my name yelled out and waved with my trekking poles. They yelled, "We'll wait for you at the top!" It was a great motivation for me since I was planning to sleep in the mountain hut that night at the top of the hill if I had not ran into them.

I met Kimberley and Viviana at the top of the hill for a quick rest break. We continued walking. And walking. And walking. We crossed the border into Spain, saying "Au Revoir" to France! :) As we continued walking, we came across a newer looking building and it had an Albergue symbol on it. Viviana and I opened the door and it was another basic shelter not on the map! We tried in vain to convince Kimberley that it would be a good idea to sleep there for the night. We pushed on.

We eventually made it to the Albergue in Roncesvalles at 9:10p, 13 hours after we left for the day! I promptly got a shower and went to bed! I slept well thanks to the earplugs.