Day 1: St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles

Distance walked: 15.6 miles
Album of the day: El Camino by The Black Keys

Sending that pack ahead was the smartest thing I could ever do. I made the hike/over the Pyrenees and across the border from France into Spain without any issues. I greased up my feet with Aquaphor and wore my liner socks, and so far, no blisters. Hooray! I am so relieved to be in Spain because my French is absolutely atrocious. I feel like I can actually communicate now (although I heard one of the workers in the hostel complaining that “all the Americans expect you to speak English.” Hrmph!) i have already met a ton of fun people, including Suzi from Hungary, Tom from Sante Fe, and Greg and Lane from Scotland. They are medical students and have great senses of humor: great walking companions. They also wear kilts, which raises a lot of questions from fellow pilgrims. As we were stopped at the Croix de Thibault, a little more than halfway, to get some snacks from – honest to God- a French food truck in the middle of the countryside, two South Korean pilgrims approached the guys with a mixture of intrigue and shock. “You wear skirts!” she exclaimed. Then she asked for a photo with them :). We also had a lengthy discussion about Game of Thrones and recreated a garish scene from the similarly mountainous trek of Danerys Targaryen for a photo (see below). It is nice to meet other nerds.

We arrived in Roncesvalles just after 4pm; the trip took me eight hours with breaks. The hostel in Roncesvalles is brand new – converted from a monastery- and is like the Waldorf-Astoria of hostels: super hot water in the showers (heavenly!), laundry service, and a multilingual support staff. I am totally spoiled, because I know that the rest of the road will likely not be like this. So I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Zain had also made the journey without any problems. It is also nice to run into familiar faces after a long day.

We made a reservation for the nearby restaurant which offers a pilgrim menu. This is a set meal which consists of a three course meal with wine, water, and bread for usually under 10€. The wine was greatly appreciated. It is a lot of fun to eat a meal with people from so many different countries. I was shocked that some of my Italian was coming back to me, and I managed to remember a few Croatian phrases to share with a pilgrim from Dubrovnik.

Most of these posts are going to be rather simple, with a short update and several photos. My goal is to spend as little time on this website as possible since I want to enjoy my time with the other pilgrims. (I just turned down an offer from some Germans to get a drink, but as my feet are sore, I had 2+ glasses of wine with dinner, and I’m already in my pj’s with my nightguard on, that’s pretty much a given). And I’m really damn tired!

Thank you God for getting me through this day. And thank you to everyone for your words of encouragement. They helped more than you will ever know.

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