Oh my God, I can´t believe I made it to Zubiri today! 22.8km - I can´t walk down steps any more, my achilles heels hurt like mad. 22.8km up and down the western hills of the pyrenees; I´ve never walked that far in my life, never mind up and down steep slopes. I actually found it pretty hard to fall asleep last night. No, not because of the smell of 120 people in one - it has to be said - quite impressive medieval hall, or the snoring that went on (I have the best ear plus: pharmacy in Parnell Street, the pink ones, can´t beat them!) but for the aches in my muscles. From the tip of my toes right up to the top pf my thighs. I would´ve LOVED to cover my whole legs in Deep Heat, despite the smell and everything. No such luck though. Woke up this morning and had to jump off the top of the bunk bed (no ladder, you see), ha, what joy! Ah yes, 6am and all the big chandeliers were switched on and the "father" of the albergue walked through the rows of bunkbeds, shouting ´Good Morning!´in all languages possible, before making sure we´d all be out well before 8am: I was still half asleep when I stood outside in the snow... An austrian woman had her walking boots stole though - can you believe it?!! One "pilgrim" stealing another´s walking boots. She was in a flood of tears, the poor woman. I´m keeping my boots close from now on. Another one was bitten by bed bugs. The matress was immediately carried away for desinfection. I hope she doesn´t have them in her sleeping bag! Thank frack I bought the bedbug protection sheet on the very last day before I lft: it looks like a mosquito net and is treated with some pesticide. You put it over the matress -highly recommended! Anyways, the day started quite miserable. Though everythin was still white it had started to lash rain. I dedided not to join all those eager, early walkers and instead antered a cafe for some breakfast. Half the day was then spent walking through melting rivers of snow and water again pouring off my hat, running down the rain poncho. But today I had my warm gloves AND my banana! Yes, I can learn from my mistakes ;) After 2pm it stopped raining and with my slow walking pace I was now all by myself on the way. I must say, I enjoy that much more than being in a whole, neverending bulk of walkers. Also: most of the walkers here are pensioners. Well trained pensioners. And somehow it´s not so great for the ego when you get overtaken by people that are 60, 65, 70 or over! Yesterday I got overtaken by a Dutch gentleman and his wife: he´s 70, she´s 78 (not that you could tell). Both overtook me easily. I was in awe. Anyways, I´m not trained, I can´t walk uphill without breathing problems and, yes, I´m pretty happy with my progress so far. Towards the evening suddenly the sun came out -hopefully the path dries out a bit over night. Tonight was everyone just slipping and sliding through mud - and later washing clothes in the shower. My two most precious items for walking are again: my broad rimmed hat and the long stick. At times I could use it like a gondolieri to balance me through water and oceans of mud. So if anyone wants to do this: get yourself a LONG staff in St. Jean, not the short ones they sell everywhere - the long one is THE BEEEEZNEEEZ! Signing off in Zubiri (which is not worth mentioning, apart from a small medieval bridge, and the fact that I made it this far).
Oh, and P.S. Saw a four legged ´pilgrim´today: a dog with backpack! Took a picture, maybe I can put it in here in Pamplona