We left Burguete around 8 am, getting back on the Camino a little later than we hoped. I’ve never been a morning person, but of course the earlier you start walking, the less time you have in the heat. Since arriving in Europe on September 6th, the weather has been cool and pleasant, but it was going to be over 80 degrees on this day.
And we had 15 miles to walk to Larrasoaña.
About 50 yards from our hostel we took a right off the main road and started down a dirt path. All around us was mist and fog. But thankfully you could still see the mountains in the distance through the diaphanous haze. I stopped to take a picture of cows grazing in the meadow, and it was there I met Martin.
He was recent retiree from Holland, and we chatted about traveling and our jobs and various cities. It was a brief 30 minutes of walking together, but getting to know people along the Way from all over the world is what makes the experience even more special. On this day we would also meet Brian from Dublin (outstanding Irish wit), Hannah from New Zealand (such a genuinely nice person), and then a lovely couple from Australia that (I unfortunately cannot remember their names) who we would end up bonding with again miles later in the journey.
From Burguete there were several challenging hills on our hike. Ones that sans backpack might not be so hard, but lugging an extra 20 lbs on you in the mountains is no joke. Then, like Day 1, there was another very steep and rocky downhill stretch that would test us even more.
That was into a town called Zubiri, where a lot of people on the Camino call it a day and sleep. When we arrived we got a beer (maybe it was dos cervezas) to rest and refuel, as there were still another 5k to our destination.
On our way out of town over the medieval bridge, we heard from several people no beds were to be had in Zubiri or Larrasoaña. For those not familiar with the area, in Basque Country in Northern Spain it isn’t like you can just pop into a Econolodge, Motel 6, or even something like a Westin whenever you need one. Mostly these are tiny, charming towns that likely only have pilgrim’s hostels and possibly one other option. And then after Larrasoaña, there likely would be no place to stay except for Pamplona, a 20 or so minute taxi ride away.
But what could we do at that point except press onward? We still had another 1.5 hours to walk with almost no shade in the hottest weather we’d yet to encounter. At a water fountain dating back to 1911, with a bunch of wild cats milling about, we met the nice Australian couple (likely in their 60s and had walked the Camino before) and made a pact if there were indeed no rooms in Larrasoaña, we would split a cab to Pamplona so we could find rooms. We also agreed we would meet up in the morning and take a taxi back to the same spot where we left off (it was unspoken that we all needed to walk the entire Camino).
J’Nell and I both thought it sounded awful, but if that was our reality, we were prepared to grit through it. Thankfully when we got to Larrasoaña there was a cancellation at Albergue San Nicolas, and there were beds for all of us! They say the Camino takes care of you when you need it, and this was the first moment for us. The people who run the San Nicolas Albergue in Larrasoaña are wonderful, and their hostel is outstanding. We had a tasty dinner there, drank some wine, and were asleep.