Valcarlos to Roncesvalle**

Mar 28 Day 2. 11.4 km. Elevation gain.

The caretaker had come early in the morning and left the self serve breakfast. We left our Euro 20 on the table with our registration forms as we never got the opportunity to meet her/him. A great business set up and labor utilization, when human nature can be trusted, as on the Camino.The route out of town followed the main roads until about 20-30 mins my when a side road/trail to the left appears. This led us to a trail by the river, through valleys. It was very tranquil. The route was such that once we veered away from the main roads, we could no longer hear any traffic noise. This is a section where you do not want to rush through.For a larger part, we were either just above the river or near it.There’s a tangible therapeutic effect of the river’s rushing. The intangible is the positive ion charged air in the vicinity. Birds love it too as they are merrily chirping away.The water is very clear. Due to the rocky bedrock, one can see a cascade of micro-falls, akin to a string of pearls.At one stage, the river cascading down crossed our paths. Thus, we had a stereo-like experience, hearing the river’s serenade with our right and left ears at the right points. Quite amazing.Babbling brooks are real too! Their gurgling sounds are soft on the senses.

One part of gushing river

I was struck by the green vegetation on both sides of this river

Joon had an interesting experience with her uphill and down hill walks. Her left knee troubled her on the former but her right knee was the culprit on the latter.

All of us who had observed Tai Chi practitioners are appreciative of the grace that underpins the movements. I had applied a part of my Tai Chi learnings to my uphill walk. In Tai Chi, the forward leg touches the ground as heel – ball of foot – toe. Doing this intentionally, while slowly breathing in and out, allows one to utilize the slope for contemplative movement! The mind is no longer occupied with thinking when one will reach the top/summit point, but I’d enjoying the graceful change in weight transfer and forward movement.

We arrived at Roncesvalles at 1pm. Our room at the Hotel Roncesvalles was very nice for Euro 67. There was no restaurant open, so we resorted to our back up provisions. We dined later in the hotel restaurant at 7pm on their Pilgrims Menu – potato soup, pan fried trout and red wine. The fish was very good, crispy skin, tasty flesh. All that was left on my plate was the fish skeleton. And they did not put fries, but baked slices of potatoes!We then proceeded for the 8 pm Mass at the Church of Santa Maria. A beautiful Church. We had the Eucharist, and the oldest. Pastor called all of us pilgrims to the front, for the Pilgrims blessing. He said that in about 10 languages, including Korean! I know understand why there was a form seeking our nationality and reasons for the Camino when we sought the passport stamp (sello).

The main altar of the Real Colegiata, Roncesvalles

Close up of the Virgin of Roncesvalles, a wood statue brought in the 13th century from Toulouse. It was officially crowned as Navarra’s patroness in 1960. The 1945 silver baldachin canopy is an exact copy of the baldachin in the Cathedral of Gerona.

Rose window over entrance

Side chapel of St James

Joon by a picturesque part of the river.

Off to bed, recharged by the pilgrims blessing in the battle against cough and cold.It was a wonderful day.PostScript: A thrown away small pate type can triggered me to pick up trash after that. It seems an appropriate way to give back to the Camino.

PostScript: Am using a 3 Star for various sections. This day was a 2 Star (3 Star calibration is the Meseta section).

Author: Ben & Joon

Residents in the great Pacific North West. Living life as it happens, learning our purpose and trail blazing our own paths. Namaste.

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