Posting 2: 31/03/2006, Zenaruza.
Managed to phone Tourist info at Bilbao and joy of joys there is a bus that will take me to within a couple of km's to Zenaruzza - I had been concerned that I had a journey from Bilbao by train to Deva, then bus to Ondarroa then 17 km's walk. So realised there was a good chance that I could get there on the Friday. The next issue was do they still accept pilgrims? Something in the latest edition of the Camino del Norte guide led me to believe that perhaps they didn't. Well I had to go anyway as I had brought music (a copy of The Pilgrim by Shaun Davey) as a present. And anyway - I had a tent, if the worst came to the worst, I would camp.
Disembarking from the boat I was hailed by a young lad in dreadlocks. "Are you going to Santiago?" he said. "Yes" I replied. We left together and by trial and error got to the centre of Bilbao which is actually at least 10 km's from the ferry port. Weather was very different to the cold miserable skies of England. It was sunny and blue skies, temperature gauge was reading 27 degrees! This chap had decided only the previous Friday to take off to Spain as a voyage of self-discovery. I wish him well on his journey. We parted after a pleasant cold beer and I found a supermarket where I could stock up for the train journey to Santiago, and buy food for the monks as I did not want to arrive empty-handed. Found the correct bus eventually and was soon on my way.
After just over an hour, I was walking the last few km's wondering how could I better carry the 20lbs or so of veg and fruit I'd bought! My poor arms were lengthening with every meter - or at least that's how it felt! During the last ascent from Bolivar to the actual Monastery I thought back to the last time I had made the climb and fervently wished I had the trusty shopping trolley. I was stopping about every 10 metres by the time I neared the top. Still the effort was well worth it. The monks were at prayer when I arrived, just as they had been when Tim & I had arrived in 2004. Bro Loius, the monk who greats pilgrims remembered me, when I started to say I had been before it suddenly clicked - "with your son" he said. They did accept pilgrims OK and I breathed a sigh of relief.
It is very peaceful here, I suppose all Monasteries are, but there is something special about this place. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be here.. The Monastery is high up and nestles in the tops of the hills. It is very old. Of course I have been very lucky with the weather, the skies are still blue and temperature warm. I'm in no hurry to meet the (inevitable) rain!