Resuming our pilgrimage adventure (only 29 more days to go lol), it was starting to warm up a bit. We hiked for awhile enjoying the fine panoramic views. We stopped in a town called Cirauqui pictured above for café con leche. Our goal today was Estella a distance of 21 km.
Most of the Camino Frances (our route) was generally a well maintained foot path. Occasionally we had to walk along a busy highway but this was rare. There were indeed some steep gravely sections and some wet areas. There were also some old wonderful Roman roads and medieval bridges. Traversing cities could be confusing. It is not a wilderness hike by any means. There are frequent small restaurants, grocery corner stores and a choice of accommodation facilities: refugios (dorms), hostels (private room, no facilities) and hotels (full facilities.)
By now we were getting to know a few fellow pilgrims. You would get to know someone, not see them for a day or two and then run into them again. The most frequent nationalities were Germans, followed by S. Koreans, Brazilians, Americans, Brits, French, Canadians, Italians and gradually more and more locals. We remember also meeting Danes, Austrians, Poles, 2 Irish nurses and a fellow from Russia.
We decided to stay in a smaller parochial refugio in Estella – S. Micuel Arcangel. We had stayed so far in a large municipal one and a privately owned one. This was fun. We all had to help prepare the communal dinner and make a contribution. There was much laughter and sharing of stories. There was group prayer and blessings and we all ate together. It was very moving.
One of the guests had a sad story to tell. His name was Hung from S. Korea. He had misplaced his wallet a few days prior and had no money or ID. His wife back home was scrambling to replace his credit cards and send him some money. He may have lost his passport too. He really missed his wife. What a mess this is when you are in a foreign country! He was staying in the refugio for 2 weeks until everything could be sorted out. He was very sad about this delay and we expressed our sympathy and support. Suddenly at the dinner table he broke out into the song “If you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair.” Thinking of this moment now still brings tears to our eyes!!!
We were never to see Hung again as he would be walking 2 weeks behind us now. Such is life on the Camino with its ups (graces) and its downs (misfortunes). Just like in the real world!