From the end of May through mid June, Paul, Finn and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is part of the recap of that trip. Find more here.
We wanted an early start for the walk from Zubiri to Pamplona. This would be a 20.3km day, our longest so far, and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to deal with Finn’s breakdowns and our own.
The morning started early, but Finn had had a rough night’s sleep. Even though we were in a private room in a guesthouse, I was worried Finn was disturbing the other pilgrims. Again, wuss that I am, cried and told Paul I wanted to go home. I was tired, Finn was tired. Paul sleeps through everything so he was all sunshine and daisies.
We got up, packed, and grabbed some cortados at the cafe in Zubiri before heading out. During breakfast, Finn really cheered up and made friends with other pilgrims in the cafe. He has a super social personality, so to see him being welcomed by the other pilgrims (and of course pictures being taken of him), really smoothed over some of my concerns.
Once Finn got some energy out, he got back the backpack and rode happily before falling asleep for a couple of hours. Again, him sleeping meant we were walking. We took one minor detour to see The Abbey, which is an old, unused church, purchased and being restored by two pilgrims. Its a great story and was worth risking cranky-pants Finn waking up! Really, it just speaks to the spirit of the Camino. Pilgrims pop in and help and follow along with the progress of The Abbey. The owners are there to visit and tell pilgrims about their project. Paul and I even talked about how cool it would be just to be able to greet pilgrims along the way on day. Even now, knowing how hard those first days were, its encouraging reading the comments and the comments on the shares of the photo The Abbey posted of us.
We continued on our way and eventually came through a forest and over a bridge to a little cafe filled with pilgrims. We’d walked 10 km so far and Finn had just woken up so we stopped for food and a break. We met some really fun people during that break. A couple from Seattle who were so encouraging about us tackling the walk with Finn, a priest from the University of Southern Mississippi who was planning to visit my alma mater with his students. Finn had a blast chasing cats all around the cafe and giving everyone high fives. The whole break was so good for my spirit and overcoming some of the concerns from the day and night before.
From there, we walked on to Pamplona. Finn only had some short-lived protesting along the way and we sang songs to mellow him out. We came to really rely on “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” and “It is Well with my Soul.” Both had like magical soothing powers. And we’d throw in plenty of “What do you do with a Drunken Sailor” (a Wilson family favorite) and “Wheels on the Bus” for good measure.
Being worried about Finn’s moods got me down just a little. I didn’t like that his mood was affecting mine so strongly and really changing my whole day. I was getting really tired of catering to him constantly (“here, you need a cookie? You want to sing a song? Want mom to play peekaboo while she walks right beside dad and tries not to step on him even though there is a blanket over her head?!?”) as well as dealing with Paul’s needs like getting him a snack or water every time he wanted something. I had all of our clothes/sleeping bags/toiletries/some water, but Paul had Finn/Finn’s clothes/snacks so I felt like I’d hit a stride after Finn calmed down and then Paul would ask for a snack. Ugh. So frustrating. I was being less than kind to say the least.
I kind of started to realize that this was a good opportunity for me to stop thinking about myself and really serve my family. I mean, isn’t the Camino all about a little redemptive suffering? Working on my attitude changed everything. It always does and I became a lot gentler with Paul.
Walking into the city, I did promise Finn ice cream if he could stay calm for the last couple of kms. I may have had to remind him of that promise every 30 steps or so. #briberyworks
Once we got into Pamplona we stopped at an albergue that advertised private rooms. They had one and we got it! Whew. The place was brand new and very nice. The hostess was immediately taken by Finn and he got some practice trying to understand Basque as she took him outside to watch cars and talk to him while we unpacked/showered/changed. Have I mentioned how much the Spanish loved babies!?
We went down to the square where Finn had had so much fun playing peek-a-boo only a couple of days before. It was a national holiday because it was voting day so all the bars and restaurants were busy and people were just sitting in the street having beers with friends. Finn got his ice cream and we had a couple of beers with a couple of Irish pilgrims.
While we were there, a woman and her one year old son came up to Finn and I to introduce themselves. They both lived in Pamplona and just wanted to say hello and practice some English. Finn thought the baby was cute and wanted to hold his hand while he practiced walking. She was so sweet and not worried at all about my bull-in-a-china-cabinet toddler. It was so sweet and I realized that I wouldn’t have had such a nice moment had we not brought Finn.
A little later, Finn started picking up trash around the square and putting it in the trash can (one of his favorite activities for some reason…?? I’ll take it). There was a bench full of sweet little abuelas (the abuelos were sitting a couple of benches away) near the trash can. A pilgrim woman from Barcelona was sitting with them and resting. The abuelas began to ask about Finn and the pilgrim woman was translating for us. Eventually, Finn began to get sleepy and put his hand down my shirt, as he does when he’s tired (if you have tips on breaking that habit, pass them on asap!). One abuela asked where we were staying and I said “I’m not sure. Down there aways.” She did NOT think that was a satisfactory answer. She told me where she lived and asked it our place was near her house. She kind of scolded me saying “well if you don’t know where you’re staying, how will you get there.” I told her I generally knew and my husband knew but she just shook her head. She said the baby was tired and I needed to get him to bed. She also asked what the baby was eating and I told her he eats everything. She said she wanted to make sure he was getting good food on the Camino. She also asked where I laid him down for a nap along the way and didn’t seem quite happy with “he naps in the backpack.” Oops! The whole conversation was just hysterical. The pilgrim woman translating couldn’t help but laugh and told me that this was just the typical Spanish Abuela!
As hysterical/kind of crazy as the whole conversation was, it was a little fun to have a conversation that, again, I wouldn’t have had if Finn weren’t with us.
Later we walked down to the river so Paul could soak his tired feet in the water. That evening, I went to the Cathedral where there was a group praying the rosary. They processed around the church to some really beautiful singing of the Litany of Mary. There were lots of pilgrims and even more locals. Honestly, I kind of had no idea what was going on or where we were going in the procession or anything since the whole thing was in Spanish, but I joined in and tried to participate.
We went to bed and actually slept great. We had a room adjoining the bathroom and I woke up in the middle of the night and needed to use it. When I went in, somehow, I guess the door locked. I still have no idea how, but I was stuck in the bathroom. There was a door the the common room and a door to our room but both were locked. I could hear Paul snoring but I had no idea how to get his attention without waking anyone else up or waking Finn up. I was about ready to just curl up on the bathroom floor and
cry sleep when I decided to try knocking on the door just a bit and trying to call Paul. Somehow, miracle of miracles, the man who has slept through just about every middle of the night fit Finn has ever thrown, heard my whisper yells and opened the door for me.
I suppose the Camino really does provide!