Starting the Camino de Santiago

Wednesday, August 10, 2011  at 6:58 AM
After our morning of camping in the Spanish park, Chris and I decided to head towards Pamplona.  We caught several quick, successive hitches until we landed in a small town outside of Jaca, Spain.  As we started walking through town, we were quickly targeted by an enthusiastic, energetic Czech man who was currently walking the Camino Aragones (one of the ways to Santiago).  Once he figured out that we intended on starting the Camino from Pamplona, after we had done a bit of sightseeing, he took it upon himself to convince us that that idea was no good--the Camino from Pamplona was crowded, boring, and very business-like.  No, we definitely should join him on the Camino Aragones!

Chris and I looked at each other, in the parking lot of a dusty and hot Spanish mercado, shrugged, and cast off our plans of Pamplona to start the Camino from this small town.  Why not, right?  The idea of avoiding most of the masses of pilgrims was very appealing, plus Pamplona would still be there later!

Shadows on the Camino by Danalynn C
Chris and I, walking the Camino.

Pietre, as we learned his name was, was very excited to find some people with whom he could speak English.  My breath grew shorter as we started to hike up various hills in the hot Spanish sun, so Pietre focused his eager attention on Chris.  Soon, they were immersed in conversation ranging from expected (strategies to hike the Camino), to serious (debates on foreign policies of a variety of countries), to downright hilarious (Pietre learning, with surprise, about the idea of an established Spanish afternoon siesta, despite having walked the Camino several times within the last few years).

Arres at Sunset by Danalynn C
The end of a hot day in Spain, relaxing in the evening.

I huffed and puffed my way behind them, admiring the local trees when they gave me shade and cursing the local shrubbery when it evaded casting even a smidgeon of a shadow.  Soon we were rounding the corner at the pilgrim's albergue for the night, a type of pilgrim's hostel for those walking the Camino de Santiago.  Many small towns will not even have a grocery store or a post office, but if they are on the Camino then they will have an albergue for the pilgrims to stay in for the night.

Arres by Danalynn C
The small town of Arres, our first stop on the Camino.

In the small town of Arres, we were welcomed by the albergue hosts with tea and snacks, given a guided tour of the local church, then served a fantastic dinner.  The experience of hiking all day and emerging into this small, welcoming Spanish village for the evening was unforgettable and made us quite excited for the next days on the Camino.

Auberge in Arres  by Danalynn C
Relaxing at the albergue in the evening.
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