Monday, August 4, 2014

Camino Two - Eunate to Cirauqui

A tricky but so pretty descent from my first mountain until the flat at Uterga and on to Muruzábel.  I was in good spirits, fairly bounced along, plucked honeysuckle to put in my scarf for perfume, ate a wha whoom! bought from Carrefore in Pamplona.  Love these French crepes rolled around a filling of Nutella.  Turned into the last village and asked a pretty young woman the path the Eunate.  She turned at my voice, I swallowed involuntarily as she touched my arm and led me to the end of her home where another road ran left through a small green.  She was blind.  I thanked her, lightly touching her arm too, and walked as she had directed.  And walked and walked.

There was a provocative sign saying Eunate in a field ahead but no arrows.  Which path should I take?  As always I sent up a quick Help to Holy Mary, without much confidence I confess; there was no evidence of human habitation from where I stood.  But lo and behold the sentence was barely out of my mouth when appeared a tractor!  I waved him to stop and shouted over the engine's roar ... the driver laughed, not another doughy pilgrim I could hear him thinking as he pointed straight ahead and then right.

A long walk, by my standards, and then I was there.  It was a pretty Romanesque church and the tranquillity within tangible.  I sat, thankful, for some while in the presence of the Madonna in Majesty seated on the Throne of Wisdom, as all Madonnas were prior to the invention of the printing press since when we've been told what to think and how to think it.  ("I read it in a book, the newspaper" assumes the gravitas of the Holy Writ, and more recently "I saw it on TV, facebook, twitter" and twits believe it).

I felt compelled to walk on to Ma
ñeru as the famed Puente la Reina seemed too big a town for my apprehension to cope with looking for a small albergue.  Big Mistake.  I didn't register the climb.  I walked for hours alone until a woman came towards me carrying an orchid.  I asked her how far away was this elusive village; well, I didn't quite have the command of Spanish or Basque to put it so eloquently, but she understood my torture of her language and to my dismay held up the flat of her hand to vertical and said 5 kilometres.  Uh oh!

It was vertical too.  I thought I would die.  I had finished my water, had no fruit, my legs were wobbly.  Silly me.  On and on and on and up and up and up I went to collapse at the door of an
albergue of twelve beds in a village of fourteen houses.  The owner looked at me with enormous pity, gave me two glasses of water in quick succession, but said: completo.  I confess I burst into tears of exhaustion.  She patted my hand, she'd already taken off my mochila, and made a phone call.  She then indicated I sit where I was and off she went.  A good ten minutes later a young man arrived and then I heard a car.  This kindly woman had rustled up a temporary caretaker for her albergue, gone to fetch her car, picked up my mochila and invited me to sit in the passenger seat.  She drove me miles up hill and down dale to Cirauqui where I was welcomed by a young woman who spoke English, smiled as she stamped my credencial
and said: Glastonbury? My boyfriend comes from Dorset! 

I had the last bunk.  But my knees had died and I couldn't walk upstairs.  Somehow, with help, I did.  A young Slovenian woman had watched my hobbling progress up the stairs, came to my bunk and offered to massage my knees with a special herbal unguent from Germany.  She warmed her hands under running hot water before she began.  It was magical, and she insisted I keep the cream.  You know, that cream lasted me until Santiago. I used it on my feet and knees after each day's walk.  I used Lynne's gift of Thai burn-through-to-the-aching-muscle ointment on my left thigh each day too, and always the French secret, NOK, to anoint my feet with each morning before swaddling them in 1000mile socks.  I didn't get one blister, and from Cirauqui on didn't have a single twinge in either knee regardless of the mountains I would climb. There were times BC - before Camino - when my knee would give out as I walked up Glastonbury High Street, so this gift of healing was not something I glossed over.

I sat on the church wall in the setting sun, did a double take as my charcoal skirt walked past.  Macabi! I called, and stood up to reveal mine!  Tina's pink headband hid stitches; she had fallen on that tricky but pretty descent down to Uterga; a doctor stitched her head and hand ...

The albergue offered a pilgrim meal which I ate with gusto at a table with a Dutchman who had read Johanna's book - in Dutch - of her walk from Le Hague to Jerusalem.  I had her gift of Our Lady of Finisterre pinned to the inside pocket of my skirt.  Such synchronicities ...

And the tales continue ...


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