April 7, 2019: Hello from the future, one year beyond the real-time chronology of this blog! I have been enjoying re-reading each entry on its one-year anniversary, and noticed that the post I remember drafting about Roncesvalles is missing! Here are the gorgeous photos and my attempt to remember what I was feeling that night… besides exhaustion. I’m adding this post one year late because I hope to someday download and print this blog and photos for my own keepsake, and it’s not right to skip such an important stop.
I reached Roncesvalles pretty late in the day on April 6, 2018 — around 4 or 5 pm if I remember correctly. Thank goodness I had a prepaid reservation already because the albergue was almost to capacity for the night by the time I reached it. Let’s be honest, thank goodness I reached it at all considering how that second day of walking through the Pyrenees went. It was only the tiniest shred of vanity I had left that kept me from crawling into the albergue on my hands and knees (begging for a taxi to take me to the closest airport? I jest. Or maybe it did cross my mind.)
I was excited to be in Roncesvalles considering the village’s role in the legends of Roland and Charlemagne, but I remember being so exhausted when I was there that I couldn’t muster the energy to recount any of the history while there. I was shuffling about mumbling “Charlemagne” and “Song of Roland” a lot instead.
First, there is a small chapel and monument dedicated to Charlemagne before you reach the monastery:
People were climbing to the top of this hill to check out the memorial (there was a huge parking lot here and most of the people checking out the monuments were motorists). I could barely put one foot in front of the other at this point and so admired it from afar.
Look back on the day’s accomplishments/misery:
The little village is mostly comprised of the church buildings and albergue, plus a couple hotels and restaurants. Not a lot going on in this village EXCEPT there was a LOT going on in this village since all pilgrims who started in SJPDP were funnelled through here (it’s where the Napoleon route and Valcarlos route merge).
And my very first pilgrims mass (out of many — and this one was in Latin). It was beautiful. I was emotional. Sitting in mass this evening really made me think of my son Elliot when he was young.
Since this is being composed one year after the fact, and from the comfort of my computer in Seattle, I’m in a better position to share resources:
Jen, I so much appreciate receiving this, and that you made the effort to fill in the missing link in your memoirs of Your Camino! Brings back memories of my Camino Sept/Oct 2012…..6 weeks, flying into Bilbao..flying out of Madrid. I was 71-my fiance 73-he now has dementia and his son admitted him to an Assisted Living retirement home, after we returned from 6 months in Australia 2013. He doesn’t remember the 6 months in Australia, but does remember parts of the Camino, so am very glad about that-was the best thing we ever did!
I live in Seattle. Where are you from? Looks like I can go back and read your entire story-thank you so much for your sharing. I had no idea how to put a blog together(or whatever you call it)
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Hi KayLouise! So sorry for the delay getting back to you. I was being crushed by my work’s 2019 event on May 4. I’m so glad for you and your partner that he remembers parts of the Camino. What wonderful memories to hold on to and cherish! It makes me wonder what I will still have snapshots of when I start to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s (my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s, so I fully expect it to get me, too). I am in North Seattle near Northgate. It could be fun to meet up some time and share Camino stories!
I’ve been following your Espana adventures on fb. I want to go back, too. When we were walking last year, I kept picking out towns I would return to for a second visit. I remember you said you would return to Pomploma for the San Fermin festival. You did! I think I would return to Hospital “something” for the Renaissance in June. Maybe someday. I’m looking at your blog to refresh memories. I said I’d give another talk with different stories. I have a few more to tell. This blog is so well done and I’m so appreciative of your taking the time to document in a fun way.
Gracias, Sally! This has been a very different type of trip from the Camino (and since I’m with my family, I’m not sharing as much as I did on the Camino blog). Still, I’m falling deeper in love with this country every day I’m here. I think the town of which you speak is Hospital del Orbega? There is a super long bridge with the wooden frames set up for medieval jousting tournaments on each side. The day I walked into the town was the day I encountered freezing temps, snow, and hail. I remember sitting in the bar next to the bridge (with teal couches!) watching pilgrims come into town dodging the hailstorm. I was hoping to see someone I knew — anyone — but alas and alack. It was one of the few places I stayed where I didn’t run into anyone I knew. Still, I loved that village. The hostess of my casa rural was so kind and filled my soul with kind words and home-cooked food full of veggies. It’s definitely different being an actual tourist here … but there are a few times that Spanish hospitality really saved the day on this trip. I hope you’re well! Please tell Amy I said hello.