I haven’t started walking yet but even a taxi ride from Pampolna to St Jean Pied de Port causes me to zone in (or, zone out).
We arrived in Pamplona yesterday evening after taking multiple modes of transportations; Portland to Amsterdam, to Madrid, to Pamplona via train, taxi to our hotel, Hotel Europa. We went to mass at 8 pm (there was noon mass today but the gentleman at the desk tells us that we need to check out by 11 am due to holidays. Well, everyone needs holidays so we don’t complain), grabbed some vino and pintxos (pronounced as Pinchos) at Gaucho, put earplugs in (lots of people in plaza were celebrating something….maybe the upcoming New Years Holiday) and went to sleep which wasn’t hard to do after being awake for 28 or so hours. I woke up a couple of times and I could hear people still having a good time down there (they started singing around 4 am!). Nonetheless, we slept well and woke up at 8 am, started to break down our duffle bag for we knew we couldn’t possibly carry this grand sausage through the narrow streets of SJPP comfortably, had breakfast and left the hotel. The taxi ride to SJPP was beautiful. Magnificent Pyrenees never disappoint you with there beauty; its snow capped peaks, jaw dropping valleys and cliffs, and occasional rolling hills are dotted with leisurely grazing sheep. I was getting happier by the minute! The road however was very steep and windy.
Many years ago when I was still new to America, my new found friends were kind enough to take me to the beach, at Corpus Christi, TX, for some wave ridIng during one Spring Break. I can’t swim (I am afraid of water) so when I was in the water, waiting for waves to arrive, I must say that I was not too far away from the beach, just in case. Then there it was, a huge wave. swelling slowly but enormously and approaching where we were. Horrified, I started to scream, “Oh, no, oh, no…..oh, yes!”. In the taxi, I was thinking this Camino thing is absolutely crazy. Why am I doing this? Why did I leave comfort of my home, spent a great deal of money to come here to just walk? Actually, not just walk but put my physical being at risk by torturing it through strenuous hikes of 15 to 20 miles a day and then crash in some less-than-basic lodging called albergues at night. How about this taxi ride? Why are we spending 120 Euros for this when the city of Pamplona is on the pilgrimage route so we will be back here by foot, 5 days later? Why don’t we just start walking from here? No, it just doesn’t feel right. We need to start from SJPP! Yes, I know, it sounds crazy but then, how can I possibly explain the feeling I am now having? Sitting in the taxi, I have this wide grin from one side of my face to the other. I am now imagining that giant wave approaching me, and as horrifying as it is I know it will also gracefully and gently lift me with joy and wonder that is hard to describe with my limited vocabulary. In short, I am just incredibly happy! Maybe, this is what C.K. Chesterton meant by saying (I am paraphrasing), “perhaps when all things are completely upside down we will be able to see clearly”. Yes, this pilgrimage is absolutely crazy and does not make any sense to my reasonable-thinking mind. But the result of this crazy decision is that I get to be happy! Incredibly happy!
Well, you might say that things are going well so far….