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Posting 8:  12/05/2006,  Monreal.  (1986 km's to go)

Well I have been taking it more easy for the last few days and walking shorter distances so much so that I had more or less a rest day at Estella.  Arrived about midday and booked into relatively cheap hotel.  Managed to get to an evening concert of Gregorian Chant.  It took place in one of the old Churches, such a beautiful and apt setting.  Bought the CD but sent it home rather than carry it!

Ironically the meeting with the Irish lady at Tosantos was to be the start of several meetings with Irish. Met a busker, met two Irish guys at the refugio at Torres del Rio then the next day, on the way from Los Arcos to the Castilla de Monjardin a woman stopped me to ask why I was going the wrong way.  We chatted in Spanish for a minute or two until she asked me where I was from. "I´m Irish" I replied, still in Spanish.  She bent over with laughter. "So am I" she said in English.  We chatted for about 30 min’s.  Then later that day four Irish guys turned up at the Refugio.  They were great gas and we ended up singing in the bar after dinner.  Then when I announced I could play spoons one said "OK, go on then" and he proceeded to do what we call ´mouth music´, lilting an Irish dance tune to which I obligingly belted out a rhythm on the spoons.  I ask you, what pilgrim carries a pair of spoons in addition to the one with the knife and fork for eating?  No wonder I´m carrying so much weight!

And on that subject, I put the rucksack on a very strict diet and it lost nearly 4lbs in one day!  Having only used it about twice so far, I decided to send home the camping gas burner (minus the gas cylinder, I left that at a refugio for another pilgrim) and the saucepan.  So the rucksack was a bit lighter.

Not for long though!  A major milestone in the journey was passed when two days ago I reached Puenta la Reina and picked up my second pair of boots and the instructions for the next part of the journey.  Alas these (the instructions etc) are heavier as there are some maps I will need until after Lourdes.  Rather than do the sensible thing and stay in Puenta so I could post back the old boots the following day, I pushed on to the next village which is on the Camino Aragones.  The result of that was I ended up carrying the old boots and some other stuff around all day as the post office in the next village could not handle international parcels!  

Unfortunately there was not another large town for several days so I decided to take a totally unscheduled trip to Pamplona (which is not on my route) by bus.  This I did this morning and managed to get the stuff into the post.  It cost a whopping 29 euros! Still it was better than carrying the parcel round for the next few days.  I was telling this to another pilgrim and they asked why I did not just chuck the boots away.  The answer is that I have actually become quite fond of them.  They did get me from Quimper in France to Irun in Spain, and then after new soles, from Irun to Santiago and from Santiago to Puenta!  Luckily I got another bus back to Tiebas almost immediately, and had started walking by 12:30.

Today, for the very first time, I met no pilgrims on the Camino.  There were several at the refugio although the refugio was not full.  But I am now truly off the Camino Frances and walking on the Camino Aragones.
Post 07.
Post 09.