Day 4 // Zariquiegui – Estella // 37.8 km

I woke up today with good and bad news. I thought I was going to wake up today feeling stiff as a board, but the good news were that after stretching and walking around for a little the doubt had left my head. But the bad news were that my head felt a little heavy - probably from the wine and the air-less room. I thought I should not, but I gave in and popped an Ibumetin pill. (Ibuprofen - for my foreign readers) 

It looks like it is going to be a hot day. I ate my breakfast and put the sunblock on. I tried to leave early, but I had no success - I left the auberge at 7:20 AM. The first 5 kilometers of the day are going to be a hike up the hill from which I'll be able to see a beautiful view of Pamplona. Ugh, the sun is starting to rise from behind the mountain. Since I have a little while left to walk on the right side of the mountain, I can still do a bit of the hike in the shadow. 

In the morning I did not really run into any other pilgrims. There are no clouds at all and I am hiking up the hill.

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I stumble upon a path which divides into two different paths, and of course there are no signs. Logically thinking I should go upwards, not downwards where one of the paths would be taking me. But I know these paths can be tricky. I got a little nervous but decided to go upward. Still no signs. Oh, how happy I was to see this beautiful yellow sign at the top of the mountain. I can chill now.

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“Alto de perdon” mountain top is special for its wind turbines, because they say that the paths of the wind and the stars meet here. And of course, they shot a scene from the movie “The Way” here. Since no one else is around, I have to ask the clerk from the grocery store on wheels to take a photo of me. She agrees.

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Now the path is only taking me downwards. My knee is not happy about it but it patiently stays silent.

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Rocks. I slip a few times, but stay on my feet.

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I think about Andree. He was so hopeful, but his knees were disappointing him. He said he would not drink painkillers, because he wants to feel the pain to see how bad it is. I wonder how far he has gotten. I pray for his journey. 

I keep walking and the heat gets worse. At times I feel like a cow that's fighting flies. At least I have something to do. 

After 5 kilometers I see the first pilgrim in front of me. When I get closer, I can hear him talk, but with who? As I pass him I see that he has earphones in. Maybe he was listening to an audio book, talking on the phone or trying to learn a language. I don't mind, because everything we do here is for us so it is beneficial. 

Today's journey took me from a village to village through country fields. Every 5 kilometers something felt exciting because the scenery kept changing.

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Since I have been doing improvisation theater, I thought it was time for some improvised rap. So I made up a song and rhymed my way into the next village. 

These little villages are populated by just around 100 people, the rest of the village is usually just auberges. A Porsche passes me - okay! 

As I pass the fields and the farms along the way, everyone greets you - the home owners, the workers, the clerks, dogs. At the end of the day we are all a big family in this world and there is no need to be rude or mean. 

The path is taking me up and down. Another steep path downward and I thought I make fun of this part, so I decide to run down in zigzag. I raise my hands up and I imagine myself surfing - WATCH ME BITCHES! I reach the bottom. I am having fun with myself for now, but I doubt I'll go on for a month. 

The path now takes me through a series of little gardens. I see an elderly man take care of his green tomatoes. I walk through another village but I don't stop because I don't feel like it.

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Did I say the weather was really hot before? Oh, no honey.. that was not hot. TODAY IS HOT. After 17 kilometers I finally thought I should probably take a break, but now there are no benches and not a bit of shadow anywhere around me. I stop anyway and try to hide under a half naked pine tree. I ate the sandwich I stole yesterday. It was not the freshest, but it'll do. 

I get back to hiking in hopes of reaching a village soon. I need water. Not just to drink, but to freshen up my face and neck. After the 19th kilometer I start smiling, because I finally see a water fountain. I wet the headband, wash my face and continue on.

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As I go further I finally see a sign that says Farmacia (Pharmacy). I go get a foot cream and finally want to buy a shampoo too because for four days I've been 'washing' my hair with just water. We find the cream, but they're out of travel sized shampoo bottles. The pharmacist tells me to wait a little and brings out a little gift for me - tiny samples of shampoo and hair conditioner. I felt like it was Christmas. I was so grateful for the angel that the pharmacist was. An elderly man who was in the pharmacy was happy too, he said 'muy bien! muy bien!' This was one of those moments where I felt like the whole world unites to save each other. I jump out of the pharmacy feeling happy like a child. 

I continue the hike, the temperature is about 30 degrees and the heat is getting worse. After 24 kilometers this hill was not something I wanted to deal with.

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But it was nice to look back at the city where I just got water from the top.

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I continue the journey. Did I say it was crazy hot already? Later I see a sign that says - fresh fruits in 70 meters. I thought it was another grocery store on wheels, but then I saw something magical. The next sign said - help me build this recreational space (it had some benches built in between the trees already). And next to it was a table full of fresh fruits and a box for donations.

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I thought no one was going to be there, but then a young man shows up and explains what I had already understood. He told me to take anything I want and to leave a donation. The watermelon was from heaven and can you imagine the joy I felt when I ate all of these?

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With a body charged of happiness from the fruits I say goodbye to the young man and wish him all the best. This was the joy of the day! 

The fields continue. At some moments a heat wave attacks me. The grass cutters have made drawings in the fields.

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I see that there will be no shadow for a while, so I stop and put some sun lotion on my legs, because most of the day the sun is shining from the back and my legs are burnt. 

The sun is burning me up and it gets a little hard to get to the next village. The tunnel helps a bit. The light at the end of the tunnel gives me hope that behind it is a town.

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Not yet! I see a young boy in front of me, barely moving forward. As I pass him I wish him luck on his journey and ask him if he's doing alright. He says he is fine and I see he has a liter of water in his bag, so I feel safe and confident enough to pass him by. 

I reach the next village. I now have to choose whether to continue my journey today. I've done 30 kilometers already, there would be 5 more to go. I wanted to get to the next one, but it is so hot and the heat will get worse later too. I freshened up, massaged my legs a bit and I feel rejuvenated. I'll keep going. I didn't even get out of the village when the hat that I had put in water was already dry. 

I try to hide my face from the sun by putting the headband on it.

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As I reached the village I was planning on staying at, a pilgrim in front of me yells out - 3 more kilometers until Estella! No, I'm staying here! We walk and I understand that I missed the auberge, because this village only had one and at the beginning. Clouds show up and it gets a little easier. Ok, I'll walk with George (I thought his name was Jorge) to Estella. George asked me if I want to go to church to get a stamp. What? They give stamps there? No, I don't want to. Yes, of course I want to! It took me 2 seconds to change my mind. The church is cool and feels nice. We walk further, the first 2 kilometers were nice, but then the sun came out again. 

The temperature was probably 35 degrees. We are walking but it is very hard to bare the heat. And there is no sign of finish line. I swear a little, but then I see it! 

I find the auberge. I take a shower and make an ice bath for my legs and feet. I stretch, do a feet massage in the hallway and the people passing me are smiling. I have to get to the grocery store to get food for tonight and tomorrow. And I need an Aloe gel, because I can see some spots that I got from the sun. 

I drag my ass to the store trying to avoid the sun. 

I see people in auberge who still have the strength to cook warm dinner. And I also see people who are walking around like they have wood attached to their legs. I am one of them. 

I reached the first 100 kilometers today! But have to have a celebratory drink first.

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The aloe gel helps a lot. While I am typing this, the spots are almost gone. 

I can feel little blisters growing but it is not bad yet. 

Yaaay! I just saw Alejandro who gave me foot cream yesterday. He had also planned to walk just until the village before, but he had heard the auberges there are not very nice that's why he battled his way to Estella although he considers this a too big of a distance for a hot day like this. He congratulates me on my journey today and told me that the french man who stayed at the auberge with us yesterday had also made it to Estella. BUT he is on a bicycle. We share the joy of the day and say our goodbyes. 

I hope tomorrow is not this hot! But they say it will be. 

The graffiti in the tunnel made me think. THE REAL CAMINO STARTS AT THE END.

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