12-01-2011 I ride into Spain today. I have the picture planned, me standing next to the border sign behind Griboulli, a big European grin on my Florida face.
There is only one problem with that plan. There is no sign or border that I can see. I realize I am in Spain because I pop into a supermarket to find a new and interesting treat and realize that people are speaking Spanish and the food is labeled in Spanish. Oh boy, I can understand more!
I waste no time trying out my rusty espanol. “Buenas dias senior, que ciudad es esta?” (What city is this?)
I repeat my self. He just shakes his head. Ok, maybe he is French. Se habla espanol? I thought that meant, “Do you speak spanish?” It actually means “Spanish is spoken.”
He looks at me and waggles his head and then totally ignores me. OK, maybe I need a little brushing up. But I am in Spain- Yay!
My host for the evening Michael lives on the third floor in his condo. He has left me here to have dinner with his parents. I have the house to myself.
In the evening he returns and we use Google translate when we get stuck. Michael is energetic and a quick thinker. He works in the winter as a boiler repairman and in the summer he has a truck from which he sells hamburgers at fairs. His goal is to sell his condo, make a little money, and quit his boiler job. Then he will be free to travel half the year and not work so much. He says the payments aren’t worth it, he would rather have more time than more house. We talk about the cultural differences between living to work and working to live. We certainly have a meeting of the minds.
He sells me on the idea of the El Camino de Santiago religious pilgrimage, also called the way of Saint James. This pilgrimage runs along a high level plain about 70Km south of here west to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The length from Pamplona is about 700Km, or an easy 10 days ride. In 2010 over 270,000 people made this pilgrimage. There are lots of dormitory type places to stay for 5 -10 euros along the way.
I will have a Credencial or pilgrim’s passport. It will be stamped by dorms, resteraunts, cathedrals. In the end I will receive a certificate.
It moves me to undertake this 1000 year old Christian pilgrimage. Though I cannot follow it in belief I can follow it in form and honor this tradition.
Later Jose and his wife Olga drop by. Olga speaks English. She works with Moroccan immigrants. Jose is 34 and unemployed due to the economic crisis in Spain. He used to work as a Machinist. They encourage me to stay an extra night and have a traditional Basque dinner. Michael then offers to cycle with me to Pamplona on Saturday. I was planning on staying just one night but how could I refuse such kind hospitable friends?
The terrain has changed again. Ahhh, this is more like what Spain looked like in my imagination.
Sitting in a park taking in the view.
My room at Michaels. I’m studying a map of Spain and Portugal.
I was in France 18 days. Statistics:
Accommodations cost: $78.00 (In US dollars)
Food Costs $12.26 a day average
Miles cycled: 686
Days rested: 3
Average mileage on days cycled: 45.7
Total of all costs in France including postage, sim card, admissions, etc: $315.57
Daily average: $17.53