Big day today! Thirty three kilometers, at least. We met up with Eric and Lill in the square and were soon underway in overcast conditions. In a nutshell, it was a day of up and heaps of mud! We began with a pleasant walk along the waterfront crossing over the river and then ascending through forest groves. We were warned that the track had been altered but someone had forgotten to tell the track markers to do their job. Needless to say we became quite confused and only through good fortune and a little bit of hunch taking did we finally get onto the right track, probably adding 1 or 2 kms to our journey,
A lot of the morning’s walk was through timber areas where logging trucks had massacred the track and created ponds of mud that required careful negotiation. These last few days really ratified my decision to bring my boots rather than walking shoes. Despite the mud we made steady progress in cool conditions, ideal for walking, and after about 18 kilometers we stopped for lunch in a little shelter. Warm dry clothes were the order of the day before any food was consumed. The four of us relaxed for a while and soon had theenergy to resume our rambling.
One of the features of this walk is the many water fountains one encounters along the way. Crystal clear, refreshing water. As we made our way along this section of the track we met many fellow travellers- almost resembled Pitt Street. On arrival in Markina Xemien we sat and had a cuppa, removing the boots once more, and decided soonafter to proceed another 9 kms to the Collegiate Monastery of Ziortza. It was a decision confirmed by others who told us later that the albergue in Markina Xemien was “horrible”. This was our first night in an albergue and we arrived in time to claim the last four beds- a habit we would continue along the way. On the way to Ziortza we passed through the tiny township of Bolibar which was the home of Simon Bolivar, the Spanish explorer whom Bolivia is named after.
On arrival at the monastery the boots were quickly shed and dry clothes donned after a refreshing shower. Ahhhh…the simple comforts.
Soon it was dinner provided by the monks. A pasta and garlic “bread” soup. There were at least 10 nationalities sitting around the table. Many of us could not understand what the other was saying but the message was quite clear that being on the Camino was very special. Sleep was at a premium tonight as we had our regular chainsaws and Vespa scooters evident in the room- even ear plugs could not muffle sufficiently the cacophony. C’est la vie!