Because we had pushed on past Roncesvalles, we were not on the typical path of ‘stages’ for the Camino Frances. That meant we stayed in smaller towns most nights–which worked perfectly for us. The downside was that during the hottest part of the day we were walking sections of the trail that were much better suited to cooler mornings. The road from Pamplona to Zariquiegui was no exception. It was seven kilometers of LONG road with little or no shade. When we stopped in Cizur Menor to fill up our water bottles (the last spot to get food/drink/bed before Zariquigui), the bartender looked at us with disbelief. “You continuing the Camino now?” he asked. We nodded. “Bad idea. Too hot” he warned. “We’ll be all right,” I said, rechecking our water supply. He then mumbled something under his breath. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t complimentary. “He’s used to siestas,” I thought to myself. And as his bar was one of the few places around that offered food and rooms, his words may have been somewhat self-serving. Still, his warning did serve to mess with my mind a bit. As we walked the remaining seven kilometers in the 36-degree Celsius heat, with almost no shade, and rationing our sips of water, I began to fear that the bartender might have been right. It was a hard climb halfway up the Alto de Perdon (that same section of trail would have been MUCH easier in the cool morning air).
But as we arrived at The Albergue San Andres, and were surrounded by other die-hard hikers (several whom we had met previously, including our ‘Camino Angels’) we knew that we had made the right choice. And as we quickly learned, there is nothing like a hot shower and a great meal shared with good company to nourish the soul and renew the spirit.