Day 11 – 27th September 2015, Irache to Sansol.
Laurie, Jade and I got up early. Alan had a disturbed night because several families in the same row of chalets were up and about until very late, so he was going to set off a bit later on. I must have been so dog tired I slept through the noise! Laurie and I strode away from the holiday camp while the sky was still a deep indigo blue and the moon shone brightly. It felt a bit odd trekking in the dark but I love that time of the morning when everything is so quiet and peaceful. It is a magical time!
We ambled through the countryside and passed through a small village Azqueta, where there is an Albergue called La Perla Negra (the Black Pearl). I thought this a tad strange considering we were so far inland, surely the Black Pearl couldn’t have become stranded here? The tide was a long way out. And where was Jack Sparrow? Perhaps he was running the local bar for a few gold coins, savvy? But no, I did not see a long-haired, dandy like figure wearing kohl eyeliner, maniacally tip toeing in a zig zag fashion down the street..sigh. Although, I have noticed a fair few pilgrims wearing buff hats, like mine, and sporting a piratical look. Aaaaarrrgggghhh.
Ultreia! Onwards and upwards we trekked towards a green hill with a village nestling on its slopes. We had arrived at the picturesque Villamayor de Monjardin. Time for a brekky stop and sure enough, as we rounded a bend we noticed a sign pointing up some steps to a local bar called the Ilarria. There was already a line of pilgrims waiting for it to open and we didn’t have to wait long. Coffee, fresh orange juice and hot, buttered toast and jam was served up with a wry grin from the bar man, accompanied by happy 80s and 90s music blaring out of the speakers. I can’t say I have often felt like dancing at breakfast, well maybe I have had the odd moment, while listening to Capital Fm at home, but today was an exception. I boogied through breakfast and then skipped down the hill on our way. Here is the evidence.
This happy breakfast certainly put joy in my feet and I was content to drink in the beautiful scenery around me. I reflected on the gift of music and how its many genres, textures, colours and seasons are like a garden for the soul. Making music and gardening are two passtimes that bring me a great deal of happiness and my mind began to wander along various pathways to explore how I could weave more of these into the fabric of my future life when I returned home. I also remembered my mum because we enjoyed some special moments working in the garden together, harvesting produce and putting it down for the winter.
I noticed the bright colours of the geraniums in window boxes and pots that adorned the houses in Villamayor and felt glad to be alive and fully present in the day ahead. And so the morning unfolded, step by step, breath by breath. I was pleased to find my body responding well to the exercise. In the first week, the route up and down the steep and rugged inclines across the Pyrenees was a tough physical challenge, that really put my cardio vascular system and muscles in my legs, back and arms to the test. By the second week on the Camino, I noticed the subtle changes in my body. I had lost my spare tyre around my waist, which had toned up considerably, my legs too and my arms developed definition and strength from lifting my pack and using my trekking poles. No more bingo wings! (not that I ever play bingo you understand). I even have pecs! The best thing for me has been to develop endurance and stamina on the hills. I found I spent less time huffing and puffing up the inclines and more time controlling my breathing with taking steady steps. The Camino has been a gift to me in many ways, not least in improving my health and fitness.
Once we had decended the hill from Villamayor de Monjardin, the landscape flattened out into fields and small streams. We meandered past the ruins of ancient hospitals for peregrinos, where they took rest and alongside the reeds and marshland vegetation close to the waterways. It was here, at a particular spot that I felt connected to the souls of time gone by, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I might tell you a story about this in another post, to try to explain what I mean. I often have expeŕiences like this and for me, they serve to remind me that we are all interconnected because we have the same essence of spirit within us and we can access the past, present and future at any time. Anyway, that is another story for another day!
We left the streams and the numerous butterflies that accompanied us, softly and lightly flitting along, to venture into Los Arcos for a lunch stop in its grand square. There are a few eateries there that offer all day pilgrims menus, so we took advantage of that and enjoyed a three course lunch!
Back on the road and soon we could see the pretty village of Sansol loom ahead out of the flat landscape. We decided to make that our rest stop for the night. The last few kilometres became harder in the scorching heat of the afternoon sunshine, especially when the sun’s rays bounced off the asphalt. Fortunately we were able to find accommodation in the beautiful and tranquil Casa Rural El Olivo, the home of Anna, our friendly host. The house was stunning over a couple of floors and we could use the kitchen, lounge, laundry and pretty courtyard garden. I made some coffee and sat outside to enjoy under an olive tree. I looked around me at the trees and flowers and ahead into the distance to the stunning views across rolling countryside and sat back. This, too, was a garden for the soul! And it felt like home from home!
Watch this space for more adventures along the Camino!
Peace, love and light,