Day 1 the Journey begins

It’s 4:45am and I didn’t get great sleep last night, but I’m ready for the day! I gather my gear and fill my water bottle all the way up. Fred and myself started walking out of the village and up the first part of the mountain. The sun is rising now as it casts its rays over the valley. It’s very beautiful out here. On the way up, I notice another young guy named Logan coming from behind. He’s also here by himself traveling from Tennessee! So the three of us start walking together. Of course they are both taller than myself and are killing it. I’m always behind, but it’s ok. I’m enjoying the views. A little after 5km in, I begin to see over the clouds. The perfect time to take a snack break. As I’m sitting and eating, I can’t believe I’m actually here doing this. This all started from a conversation months ago with a former hiking friend. We were supposed to do this together, yet here I am. Is it because I’m trying to prove something to him that I’m here? I don’t know, but it’s interesting that I’m here on my own. That was what I was trying to avoid at all costs.

After walking with sheep and cows all over the place surrounded by clouds below me. It really just takes my breath away how beautiful this trail is. I continued on my own coming what looks like a…food truck? It’s the last official place to get any food or drinks before crossing the boarder into Spain. I didn’t feel the need to break, so I kept on going. At about this time the scenery starts to change and now I’m walking in a misty forest where I find a fountain. This is where my two new pilgrim friends are hanging out. We continued on as more clouds roll in. I enjoy it as it adds a bit of mystic to the area. The clouds start to break away as we make it to the highest point. From here you can see the first Spanish village we will be staying in. It’s all down hill from here!

Along the way, we meet another three pilgrims traveling together. They are from Italy, so I started calling them the Italian Stallions. A good group of guys named Filippo, Andrea, and Michele. I told Fred and Logan that we had to beat them to the next village. I start this competition in my head to beat the Italians. As we got closer to the village, I start to notice how tired I am. It’s been a long day of about 8 plus hours of hiking. What we did in one day, many pilgrims take two to do. So when the very large municipal came up ahead, I was overwhelmed with excitement! My first thought is “Did we beat the Italians?”.

We have arrived in Roncesvalles. The municipal is large and old from the the looks of it. However, you can tell it’s been renovated when you get inside. They have a large lobby area where we are assigned beds in what seems like large cubicles with two bunk beds in each one. I’m put in a cubicle with three other random older strangers. Fred and Logan got lucky and were assigned into the same one. It’s ok, since they are not far from me. So first we shower, clean our clothes, and get some much needed food. The three of us ended up walking around a bit and explored the village. It’s smaller than the last one we stayed in. It also once again looks medieval with stone buildings and a church that looks like it’s as old as the Catholic religion. This village is important as it’s the starting point of the Spanish Way. I go into the church to attend the ceremony. I’m not religious, but I want to experience it. So many people from many walks of life do this. I wonder what motivated them. For many who do the pilgrimage, it’s for some kind of life changing reason. For me, it appears to be for trekking and drinking purposes only. By the end of it all, we will see if something changes or if I even find my true reason for doing this.

I walk outside and see Logan and Fred on a patio outside a bar drinking wine or also called vino tinto. We start drinking and talking about the day.  I look around to see a street sign that reads “Santiago De Compostela 790″…we still have a long ways to go. As the sun begins to set, we crawl back to the municipal wasted. This is only day one and I feel like so much has happened. I remember someone saying a week on the Camino is the equivalent of a month in our usual life back home. Everyday is full of activity and talking to good people over some drinks. What more could I want? Until tomorrow, buenos noches.

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