Camino de Santiago: Day 1 (Christina)

From St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles (31.7 km)

I began to walk at 7:45 under beautiful sunny skies and warm temperatures even this early in the day.  I tried to get provisions for the day but most of the shops were still closed.  I found a baguette and a piece of cheese and bought a small bottle of water.  I hoped my 1.5 L of water would be sufficient.  Turns out this was not a problem as there was potable water along the way. I walked on my own relishing my solitude for the first few hours.  I felt really happy, really really happy.  The scenery was gorgeous, the trail was not crowded, I felt good and my pack felt light.  I revelled in the fact that I had no one to take care of but me.  I can´t remember the last time – if ever that I have been in such a position.  You see, when I was a child, I usually had responsibilities for caring for younger siblings (such is life when you´re one of the oldest in a large family) and then I got married very young and had my children young.  It seems I have spent my lifetime caring for and being responsible for others.  But today, I only had myself to care about and it felt wonderful.

My first Camino friend: Pauline from Ireland.

Just before the town of Orisson (8km), I met a girl from Ireland named Pauline.  We both wanted to get a coffee as soon as we could, so when we arrived in Orisson we shared a table and enjoyed a coffed together.  There was something about this girl that I liked and I felt a connection with her right away and we just decided to start walking together.  Well, conversation came easily between us and we talked about many things.  I ended up walking the rest of the day with her.  I met another lady, Monique from Vancouver who we talked to briefly and then walked closely with her too, but she trailed behind us for the most part using us as her motivation to keep going.  My first two camino friends :)

My conversation with Pauline became quite deep as she is very self aware and interested in people and the way people interact.  I ended up telling Pauline my entire life story which I think sort of amazed her.  She is just 32 but seems to be so mature and insightful for her age.  I feel like I began living my life when I was 32 and it was sobering to reflect on all that has changed in my life since then.  This conversation was not planned, it was quite unexpected actually.  I thought I would walk alone today.  I really like Pauline and we plan to walk together again tomorrow.

Only 763 km to go!

We arrive at Roncesvalles at 4:30 and after soaking our tired feet in the little stream before the town (so refreshing I don´t know why everybody wasn´t doing it) we checked out the hostel. We were both prepared to continue on to the next town but there was no need.  This hostel is amazing.  I think it is an old monastery but it has been transformed into a modern home for pilgrims.  They have thought of everything.  I will post pictures as soon as I can – you just won´t believe it.

The old monastery converted into a hostel exclusively for pilgrims.

After showering and doing our laundry we headed over to one of the two restaurants in town for a beer and dinner – we were starving.  Who do I run into but Chris who was also having dinner at the same restaurant.  We enjoyed dinner together and I met a couple of his friends from the States.  We shared our experiences from the day and then we said our goodbyes.

My second Camino friend, Monique, from Vancouver, Canada.
These were the best laundry facilities on the Camino. 

This has been a wonderful day, perfect in every aspect.  I felt very in the moment every step of the way.  I did not find the walk to be too difficult, although I am tired, my legs are sore and my feet ache.  I went really slowly, stopping often for photos or just to have a little rest and a snack.  It was a perfect pace for me.  It was a perfect day on the Camino.  And now I will go to sleep even though it is only 9 pm.

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2 Responses
  1. Kathy says:

    Hi Christina,
    It sounds like you are off to a wonderful start to your journey. I hope the coming days are just as good! I think you are very courageous to do this pilgrimage. I look forward to virtually accompanying you along the way.
    Cheers,
    Kathy

  2. Angus says:

    Hi Christina,

    Sounds like perfect start to an amazing adventure. Really happy to hear you’re enjoying the hike so much. We’ll be with you all the way…in spirit.

    Angus