The Spanish consumption of caffeine is of interest to me. People don't walk about carrying mammoth-sized, sugar-infused, disposable cups of coffee in their hands. They take time to sit with friends around a common table and slowly sip small shots of espresso. The otherwise routine act of drinking coffee reflects an understanding of the importance of savoring the moment.
We started the morning with a pilgrim special at a local restaurant in Zubiri, then picked up the Camino and took it one step at a time. Again, we covered over twenty kilometers. It was a day to slow down and experiment with alternate routes.
Our first stop was the Abbey of Eskirotz, a 13th century church with a history that is currently being pieced together. The owner, Neil, (yes, he owns the place - long story) was inside giving a fascinating lecture on the what he and others have learned about the site.
Originally, the building may have been constructed to guard a bridge that was, in the past, located adjacent to it. I was most interested in the symbolism in the building. Pagan shells, different from that of the Camino, were painted on the original alter. Twenty-four stars were cut into the doorway, which, in ancient times, had been painted blue and red. The entire outside of the building was once white. In the Middle Ages, this structure would have held particular significance.
The owner is currently in the process of discovering what other secrets the church holds. Soon, the burial ground located under the altar will be unearthed. Neil hopes that artifacts will be found amongst the bones that will add pieces to the puzzle of the place. He has set up a Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/theabbey.es
I'll take a look at this after the trip. Curiosity is stoked by travel.
Before leaving, we lingered and spoke with Neil personally after his lecture. He suggested we take two alternate routes on the Camino, to see the Church of Saint Stephen and the flat, shaded river walk into Pamplona. We took his advice.
Climbing a short, steep hill off the main route in Zabaldika, we came upon the Church of Saint Stephen. Honestly, the only real connection to this patron Saint that I had was the beloved Grateful Dead tune. The most interesting statue in the church depicted Saint Joseph with the Child. This seemed uncommon to me. Typically, the Child is held by Mary. Progressive.
Our visit was punctuated with a climb up the tower and the opportunity to ring what is believed to be the oldest bell on the Camino. That pitch is still reverberating through me.
On the final stretch to Pamplona, we deviated from the main route to walk the shaded rio Arga into the city. Another pilgrim followed us. I made her visibly nervous after crossing the wrong bridge. She smiled with relief when, some time later, we rejoined the main Camino route. Faith takes many forms here.
We arrived in Pamplona at about 3:30 PM and obtained a bed at the albergue municipal "Jesus y Maria" (8 euros). We hit the showers, unpacked then spent the evening exploring the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real and people watching in the main square over dinner, a satisfying day.