Updated with photos May 7, 2012.
My long day of travel was rather uneventful. I saw my first pilgrim in Bordeaux and knew he was headed towards Santiago because of the scallop shell attached to his backpack which nearly all pilgrims, including myself, carry. When I arrived in Bayonne the other walkers trickled in and eventually we all boarded a little train to St. Jean Pied de Port. You could tell that everyone was really excited. I began chatting with a father daughter duo from Washington DC. When we finally pulled into St. Jean, it was a mad dash to the pilgrims office with me leading the pack. Good thing because my quickness and ability to speak french got me one of the last 4 beds in the municipal alberge (hostel). Eventually I was joined by the DC duo, Audrey and Jim, and a German guy named Franz. Enter my Camino family.
Honestly, Day 1 is too complicated to describe in a short paragraph so I’ll have to tell that at a later time. But what I will say is that it was an experience that has left Audrey, Jim, Franz and I with a special bond. (Updated May 8, 2012. Read about Day 1 here.)
So, skipping ahead to Day 2 of walking which started from Roncesvalles with our target being Larrasoana. The scenery was beautiful- rivers, mountains, farms, forest and 500-year-old stone bridges. While Audrey and I walked and talked, we eventually were able to laugh about the previous days events which was a good sign. This particular day was 25km and we were all pretty whipped when we arrived in Larrasoana after 9 hours on the road. So you can imagine our frustration when the grumpy hostel hostess told us she only had 3 beds. Audrey, Franz and I took them and Jim headed down to the nicer, more expensive private hostel. When we walked into the sleeping room, we all decided it was a shit hole but that it would suffice for one night. Eventually we headed out to the only restaurant in town to pay 8 euros for a frozen pizza and to get yelled at by the tired and stressed woman who was trying to run the place all by herself. After we filled our tummies, we returned to our hostel and slept pretty good considering there where 40 others in the same room half of them were snoring. Thank God for ear plugs.
Day 3 of walking was even more beautiful because we finally got some good weather. Audrey and I snapped pictures constantly and continued to talk and laugh. We were having such a great time together and it was a shame because my plan was to stay in Pamplona for 2 nights. The 3 of them needed to continue on since they were planning to walk the entire 800km to Santiago. Frantz told me he was really sad to see me go because the 4 of us made a great team. When he said this we both got a little choked up. I was really sad to leave them but my body needed rest and I wanted to explore Pamplona. So by 2pm we arrived in the city and I splurged on a hotel. Then we all agreed to meet for one last dinner together.