Go to jail and do not pass go!
The noisy Spanish women were in bed still when we had our breakfast at 7am. Well I say breakfast. I wish we hadn’t bothered. It was a slice of baguette, packet of French toast with two weeny slices and a packet of 5 rich tea biscuits. This was to be swilled down with a sachet of Nescafé like you get on hotels, or drinking chocolate.
It was raining and cold when we set off at 7.45 and our boots had dried out thanks to careful tending. We were headed for Larassoana and I was aching from the long wet day before. The good thing is that we were already 6Km ahead of those that would have stayed in Roncesvalles. You know me, I’m a worrier and I do have a little concern about turning up somewhere shattered only to be told there is no room at the inn and having to walk on.
We had a mountain to get over first thing. Not as big as the one the previous day but it was a mountain all the same. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only one and the tracks were steep, muddy with stones, boulders and some difficult drops. It was really hard going and what people who do this regularly would call very technical. The quad muscles at the front of my thighs were screaming and going uphill was slower going. Also I had shooting pains in my knees.
The Cyclist said I was doing very well and despite me feeling like I had both boys on my back, we actually kept up a reasonable pace. I say this as we overtook others rather than being over took. The tracks were all off road through trees and by about 10am the sun had come out and my fleece was stashed in my bag. I had been brave and started the day in shorts. The Cyclist was loving the trail because we weren’t on the road. He had assumed we would be walking along major highways for 500 miles so this was a radiant surprise. I must say that being able to see what’s around you makes it far nicer and the shell signs, yellow arrows and red/white stripe are well marked even if very faded.
We passed the French couple who had been in our dormitory that night and exchanged a Bonjour they had said they were walking farther than us today. They had started their pilgrimage to Santiago, 5 weeks ago from Le Puy in France heading to SJPP through Conques. The live 24KM South of Cherbourg.
We arrived in Zubri, where many doing this journey would stay for the night. It was a Sunday and for a tiny town the coffee bar was busy and was very welcome as I ditched by pack for a short while. But it wasn’t long before we set off for the last 7km. To my planned destination.
This was a hamlet and I found what I thought was our stop. Unfortunately it wasn’t and we found the municipal Albergue just along the road. Oh dear. It looked awful from the outside. The Cyclist refused to go in because he said he knew what it would be like. I looked and went to sign in. It was 8 euros each plus and extra €1 each for a thin paper sheet. We were assigned bunks 11&12 in a room for 12 and it was full. The mattresses were blue plastic and the walls were white at one time but we’re now grey and bits of black mould.
There was one toilet and one shower for men and women. Out the back was a small patio that was fenced off with an outside sink with only cold water for washing clothes and a clothes line. Oh boy the Cyclist was not happy. At least the sun was shining and he sat in the sun reading his kindle book. He was cursing like mad and said he was in a prison except if he was in prison the conditions would be better. Cue the list of irritating things.
There was only one place to eat at a tiny bar and you had to book. So those pilgrims that were not eating bread etc from the shop, this was the only option. An English girl walking on her own asked if she could sit with us at one of the two long communal tables. The French couple from last night sat by us too. We learned they were called Gerard and Sylvie.
Night time in our dormitory was a nightmare. There was one old Spanish guy, 3 English, 1 German lad with bleeding blistered feet, 6 French and one from Germany who was Philipean. The lights went out at ten and there were still lights from phones. Rachel the other English girl was reading a book other a head light glowing. I was shattered but could not sleep. For many many reasons. Some of which are the choir of snoring going on and the fact that all the top bunks creaked loudly with the slightest movement.