Day 4: Water
The journey from Zubiri towards Pamplona is pleasant, and relatively flat. Having experienced the healing power of the river waters, I made sure to mark on the map where there could potentially be river crossings. Early on in the day, I met a few new pilgrims, and ended up spending most of the day walking with V, from Sweden.
As the day continues, the heat becomes nearly unbearable. V and I come upon a bar where the pilgrims who weren't napping in the shade were downing beers or Aquarias (my personal favorite, power-ade type drink in most bars on the way). Nearly defeated by the heat, we longingly consider making our stop here, but I convince V to walk just 1km further where I am sure there is a river crossing.
We continue on, and almost give up hope of finding the water, when we come across what appears to be a summer spot favorited by the locals. The river passes under a stone bridge lined with teenagers preparing to leap into the swimming hole below, and the river wraps around a shore of large, smooth stones reaching toward the shade of trees.
V and I waste no time changing into swimsuits (another benefit of that long hiking skirt). Taking turns, one of us soaks in the cool water while the other guards our only possessions against curious hands. After we are satisfied with our relief from the heat, we make a lunch of leftover bread and Spanish tortilla before settling in for a quick nap.
Neither of us has much interest in getting up to walk again, but the rest of the Camino awaits, so we change our clothes and slip on our boots and continue onward toward Pamplona.
By the afternoon, I reach Trinidad de Arre, and decide to stop there rather than finish the walk in Pamplona. Coming across a medieval-era albergue, it gives me great joy to realize it is run by retired Marist brothers - the founding order of my college! It's a humble complex with a rich history and a peaceful garden courtyard. The best part, though, is that no one else will be sleeping in the other bunks of my room! Ah...sweet, silent sleep.
Two of the Canadians are staying here, and towards evening, I come across another Canadian couple walking with their teenage son, and I can tell immediately he's an old soul, meant to be on the Camino. They invite me to share dinner with them and as we continue the meal, other pilgrims we have each met along the way join the party.
This day has offered comfort and rejuvenation, an unexpected blessing that will soon be forgotten in the difficulties that lie ahead.
It's incredible what simple pleasures we are able to cherish when our perceived need is stripped to the basics. On a summer pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims need only food, a place to sleep, maybe a little Compeed, and plenty of sources of water. One of the best parts of the Camino centers around each river crossing or drinking source. Pilgrims congregate here, wading in the flowing waters or lingering long enough in shaded areas by fountains to fill water bottles twice before continuing. It is by the water where conversations go deeper, where those who were separated in the morning's walk or perhaps the day before are reunited for a moment, and where new friendships are formed in the briefest of interactions.