Day 4: Cizur Menor to Puente La Reina (aka “Acetaminophen In It”)

The morning came fast today, pilgrims woke up boisterously, and my blisters were still tender. Luckily, one of my fellow walkers lent me some KT tape with Acetaminophen in it – which became my favorite thing to say today: “acetaminophen-in-it!” With my wounds all taped up and after a nice phone-call home, I hit the trail with my newfound friends (I have made friends with just about everyone) and took in all the outstanding views of the countryside. All around this area are rolling hills with what surely was grain or barley growing. It seems like everything has been recently harvested, there’s a chill in the air, and everyone is prepping for winter. Firewood can be seen in each town, neatly stacked and covered with tarps. In the early morning the last few days I have even smelled the aroma of wood burning in the area, surely to alleviate the chill of dawn in the old stone homes that are scattered around the Navarre region.

With the feet taped up, the gear on tight, I felt like a million bucks and ready to tackle the Alto del Perdon (an elevation gain of about 300m). At the top of the mountain, I took the obligatory photos in front of the monumento peregrino, which is inscribed with, “Where the way of the wind crosses the way of the stars – Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas.” When we made our way down to the valley below, I made my first encounter with some grapevines in the area and managed to grab a few deliciously sweet unpicked grapes for a roadside snack. Also found some almonds (a walking stick is great for opening an almond) and a pepper that had fallen to the ground in a trail-side garden. Note that we did NOT go into someone’s garden to pick vegetables, the pepper picked us.

I wandered along the camino today with three young men – we all met each other in the last few days and have had a good amount of fun being silly and enjoying each other’s company. Today we opted to take a 3.1km extension of the trail to see a 12th century cathedral built for the Knights of Templar that protected the Camino and the traversing pilgrims. (Side note: who decides to take an extension when they are already walking nearly 800km? We do.) As the four of us walking down the country road next to fields of corn, I pointed out the similarity to Wizard of Oz and we had a good chuckle. They made me decide which characters they each were, and I realized it was awful to try and say who was the most cowardly, had no heart, and had no brain. Luckily I think I they were all okay with my decisions. The extension of the trail to see the cathedral was well worth it as we were rewarded with awesome scenery along the way and a very interesting architectural gem to view. Luckily we got there just as they were closing, so the man running the cathedral gave us “one minute!” to get our fill. It was just what we needed, and a fellow visitor took the time to explain to me that an interesting aspect of the cathedral was that all eight sides were at different angles. Pretty neat when a total stranger blows your mind!

Now I am settled at the Aubergue for the night – extremely hungry (bordering on hangry) and waiting for our pilgrim meal to begin at 7pm. Tomorrow I plan to get an early start on my own with a headlamp and to camp out at a cafe midmorning to do some writing and let my friends catch up to me.

This is an absolute dream. I am so freaking blessed to be here. Thank you thank you thank you to all the amazing people who had helped to make it a reality and to everyone that is still participating in the project! It is so inspiring to me and also making me want to write as much as possible.

Thanks Dad for being my Day 4 sponsor, and Happy Birthday! Can’t wait to meet up with you at the end of the trail in Santiago and for us to complete the extension to Finisterre!

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