Thursday, August 8th

Cizur Menor
Woken this morning by the church bells. Counted them, wasn't sure if I'd missed a chime the first time, but on the second chiming, definitely six. Up, and out, by 6:30. Walkers already on the road. A few, not the staggering numbers of a few days ago.

Puenta la Reina
From Pamplona the Way turns west. It feels different. It has the feeling of being on the Camino. At last.

The morning's walk was brilliant. Up to the windmills along the mountain ridge, their roaring gale-like sound. Then the Gambellocos fountain, which wasn't working, but was apparently the place where a thirsty pilgrim was offered water by the devil, if only he gave up his faith, but our pilgrim said "no", whereupon Saint James himself appeared, and led the pilgrim to a spring.
Anyway, it didn't work for me. Maybe the devil knew that I not only had water, but cold water too, as it'd been in the refugio refrigerator all night. Had a good long slurp just to taunt him. And talking to an Italian pilgrim, a young girl with braces.

Walking through about three towns, all with closed eglises. Worse still, though, were two of those towns had bars, but they were closed too. Hanging out for a coffee. Coffee with milk is Cafe con Leche, and it's sensational. A large black coffee is a Solo Grande, which I'm having right now, in the Bar Aloa.

Talked with a French pilgrim, who disappeared into the bushes, and I haven't seen since, maybe he was the devil, come to divert me from The Way, realized it couldn't be done, and just went. Maybe I'm so boring, he couldn't stand me any longer.
The two English 'pilgrims', obviously new, as they didn't know what the red and white stripes meant. A Basque pilgrim who thought I was Irish. The five Spanish walkers. Haven't seen Patrice all day. Maybe he decided to give his feet another chance at life, bejaysus, his large toenail was barely hanging on.

If I remember correctly, today's walk was the one where Shirley Maclaine met her 'spirit guide', John the Scot. Didn't meet him myself, but do remember feeling happy.

To here, arriving at just before midday, and it's a very pretty town. It's grown vertically over time. At street level, everything appears old, look up though, and the second storeys are newer, the third newer still, while some go up to a fourth.

Now, over there, there's a kid in a huge costume, like a walking puppet, followed by other kids with drums and whistles. The puppet-kid dances, twirls, the arms flying. People applaud.

Bar Zenon
Another coffee, and a roll with jambon and queesa, or something. Been back to the refugio, and maybe this midday siesta thing is catching as I must have instantly fallen asleep. Feel like a new pilgrim, not one that walked just over 20kms this morning.

At the next bar, the Bar Very.
And you have to ask, very what? Boring? yep. The TV is on, showing the weather, and if the symbols mean what I think they do, then I might be in for a few days of rain. Appears to be rain right across the Northern part of Spain. Perhaps the symbols mean something else, I hope so.
The Very Bar has plastic tables outside, blue ones with the Foster's sign. The beer was served in a Foster's glass. but it ain't Fosters, not that I'm a beer connoisseur or anything, probably it's the local brew, San Miguel. The bar assistant wears her black 'Very' t-shirt, is chewing gum, and looks bad-tempered. Maybe I forget the 'por favor' at the end of my Spanish sentence when I ordered, I can't remember. But no, she's bad tempered with everybody. Maybe the three local boyos sitting at the bar are the Puenta de Reina dickheads, and maybe she just wants them to leave. Or maybe the actresses that are now on the TV at the moment, in what's probably the Spanish equivalent of 'The Bold and the Beautiful' have really pissed her off, with their swishy hair and pouty looks.

And, as an unexpected bonus, actually managed to find the Internet Cafe. It's actually more of an Internet Newsagency. Had to sit behind the counter to use it. Felt like an employee. It just happened to be across the road from the supermercado.

Tomorrow, though, I'll have to buy a second water bottle. To fill with wine from Irache. Apparently the quality varies. On some days it's up with the best, but on others tres ordinaire, although that just may be the French attitude, turning up their noses at anything that's not French

Just a brilliant night. One of the best. While waiting for the stove I'm suddenly offered half an orange. Then something else in an obviously Irish accent. Mariana. I guessed, correctly what county she was from, Offaly, and impress her no end with my knowledge of the Offaly footy club's team colours (same as the Irish flag). Talking about Dublin, books and bookshops, writers and music. Then I'm invited to join them for tea. They've made vast amounts of pasta and salad. So, with David from Israel who loves to cook, and Mariana, and Sharon from Scotland whose totally fluent in Spanish, we get through this huge amount of food; then, after washing up, with Spanish pilgrims flamenco-dancing at the sink, we finish off the bottle of wine in the garden outside. David's description of how cows get 'spermulated' was hysterically funny, but then came Sharon's story of the Fiesta in Zubiri, and of the "metal bull", and wondering what it was. Turned out to be a huge thing, a man inside, but with fireworks exploding all around it, cornering her, and "my hair's on fire!", and wondering how the UK laws against setting people on fire somehow managed to get bypassed here. Well, it was funny when she told it.