On our way from Zubiri to Villava, the suburb of Pamplona that was our next stop along the way, I spent some time chatting with four delightful older French-speaking ladies from New Caledonia, a 30-mile by 120-mile island in the Pacific half way between Australia and New Zealand. They told me that New Caledonians love Americans because during WWII the Americans saved them from the Japanese.
I felt glad that somebody out there still loves us.
Anyway, these four ladies kind of reminded me of my Panera Posse, except that they’d started the Camino in Le Puy, France, had already walked 1,000 kilometers to St. Jean Pied-de-Port where we started, and they were now walking another 1,000 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela.
I’m not sure the Posse’d be up for that. Not me for sure.
Besides the New Caledonia Posse we also met along the way a British man who’d done the Camino in 2010 and has returned to stay and restore this 12th century church,
...a fellow and his donkey,
...two friendly Russian ladies who got a kick out of helping me with the few words of Russian I remember from college, and these little sweeties,
...who we met at the little cafe where we stopped for lunch.
When we reached the town of Villava, about 16 kilometers from where we’d started, we headed, believe it or not, straight for the municipal albergue.
Now, if Zubiri has the worst municipal on the Camino, Villava has the hands-down best one.
The Villava municipal is in a big, beautiful, modern building,
….that looks out over a pretty river,
…and is so clean that it smells faintly like Clorox inside, a smell I happen to be quite fond of especially in the albergues along the Camino. And the staff was super-friendly and helpful.
Hardly any pilgrims stay at this albergue because they tend to either stay at the famous monastery in the previous town or walk another 4 kilometers into Pamplona and stay there.
Subsequently we had a 4-person room to ourselves with our own private bathroom which had a soap dispenser by the sink, paper towels and a hand dryer, and a rack in the shower to set your soap on. These things are very rare treats along the Camino. And though the shower had the standard button that you press to get 30 seconds of water (I counted) then you have to press for another 30 seconds, the water was hot and plentiful during each 30-second interval. Also not a given in the albergues.
There was a washer but we had to hang out our clothes to dry from our second-story window.
For dinner there was a café attached to the albergue where we had a delicious 8.50€ pilgrim meal, vegetable soup for starters, then a delicious beef stew, and for dessert Tom chose an alcohol-laced ice cream dish called “whiskey pie”.
While I went, once again, for the rice pudding.
We’d planned to stay at the Villava albergue for 2 nights – most albergues allow you to stay only one night but those in the big cities will allow you 2 nights – so that we could spend a day visiting beautiful Pamplona.
Which we did:
We also saw the little running man.
At the crosswalks when the light turns green the little man starts "truckin'", then as the seconds count down he starts walking faster and faster until the last few seconds before the light turns red, during which time he runs. I love the little running man.
We wandered around the city all day, took a brief nap on a park bench, then took the bus back to our albergue in Vallava.
We rested up until it was time for another delicious meal at the albergue café – this time Tom had tuna stew made with fresh tuna, strange-sounding but really good, and I ordered this time a chicken filet -again, thin but juicy -with fries.
After dinner we walked a quarter-mile through the town of Villava,
...to the monastery in the next small town of Arre, then we walked back.
It was nice to have a day without backpacks.
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
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