Camino Day 43 (Ourthiagne to Roncesvalles) 20K

The Magician and I set out slightly early for us at 8am, but there were already keen walkers who were climbing up the mountain. The first walkers we came across was a couple in their late 60s and evidently hadn’t done much walking before and were bent over huffing and puffing on the steep incline. Watching them, I immediately starting to worry about them. Its pretty common that people hike the Camino when they haven’t prepared for it. And they can really end up hurting themselves, and it can also be really disheartening for them that they have to quit the walk early.

When we walked across the Pyrenees the sky was a beautiful blue with soft fluffy clouds. After the steep incline we got to the sweeping green mountains, watching over 40 vultures floating on the hot air currents. We also started meeting lots new walkers today, and saw huge numbers of South Koreans who kept together in tight little packs. This took me by surprise, as its unusual to see such a high number of people from another country on the Camino. When we stopped for lunch, we shared some of our traditional French food with a group of South Koreans. They then gave us some of their sweets. It felt like a little bit of Camino magic already!

During the afternoon the Magician wanted to meditated so I left him and walked on. As I started to come further and further down the mountains, the forest started to get denser and denser. There’s actually 2 routes down, but I didn’t realised and took the more dangerous one.  In the medieval times, this walk through the forest down to Roncesvalles was dangerous because of the wolves that used to be here (not to mention the sharp decline). The forest was filled with silver birches, and lots of red mulching leaves covering the path. It was stumbling down here that I met a well-travelled South Korean and a Mexican woman. Again, it was another repeat of my previous experience. The South Korean looked like he was about to fall over, and he didn’t even have any sticks to hike with to make it easier (and he was carrying way too much weight). It was here I decided to give him my sticks. They’d served me well up until this point, but at this point my legs had become so much stronger that I didn’t really use them anymore. Needless to say I think I made his day at this point.

Roncesvalles itself has a huge abbey, where most people stay. It was an important resting spot for pilgrims from the 11th century as its so close to the Pyrennes. They also became known for having good rations of food as well though. The Magician caught me up in the Abbey, and whilst we rested in the court yard we started to meet all the new walkers who’d started on the trail. One Italian taught us a little Reki that can be used to help relax your feet.

As a small town, I really didn’t like Roncesvalles. The people manning the reception could be really rude. I felt surprised as I’d always been told the Camino Frances is the best Camino to start with, but already I’d had a bad experience. I wondered what the rest of the Camino in Spain would be like and if the magic on the Camino would remain.

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