A memorial site has been created to honor the memory of my niece, Lena Ramadan. Please visit http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/lenaramadan/ to see pictures and messages for beautiful Lena.
Please post your message in her memory book and upload your favorite pictures of Lena. It would mean so much to the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Washington Humane Society http://support.washhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=support.
Thank you for all of your love and support.
Thursday, September 11th
Today our plan was to take a taxi back to Zubriri and walk the 13.1 miles back to Pamplona we’d missed when we took a taxi to the hospital in Pamplona. I’d convinced Pat she was ready and strong enough to get back on the trail. I set my phone for 4:15am. A taxi was coming to drive us the 30 minutes it takes to get to Zubiri.
I woke just before my alarm and asked Pat what time it was. 4:25! We both lay in bed without talking. Pat then shared, “We need to talk.” She didn’t leave me guessing for long and said, “My Camino is over.” Pat cried. I cried. She said that she had pain in a front tooth and I know there is a bigger problem going because my teeth are moved out of alignment from their normal bite position, AND 4 teeth are numb!
I knew she was going home. There was nothing to say. No pep talks were indicated. This was serious. I felt awkward. The taxi was coming shortly. I had to pack up if I was going on without Pat. We talked, cried and hugged as I got ready to leave for the Camino alone. We’d talked about what the other would do if one of us could’ve go on. Each of us said we’d continue our walk alone. So I sadly left. Pat was going to see a dentist in Pamplona or back home.
I was scared. I was sad for myself and Pat. The taxi driver dropped me off by the old bridge. It was dark. After a quick pee behind a dumpster, I got on the Camino, south of the Arga River, heading west. My mind played games with me as I walked on the narrow, dark, brush lined trail past an industrial part of town, wondering if someone would jump out and rob me. I distracted myself by thinking about the cafe con leche I’d have about 3 miles up the trail at the very small town of Larrasoana. “Historic houses from the 15th and 16th century line the Main Street; some retain their coat of arms above the door.” The moon was still up and looking like the full moon it had been two days before. I started to get into a good hiking rhythm, reflecting on past backpacking times. I was back out in the country with the cutest little horses and new families of cows. I was on the tail again, feeling good.
It was getting a little lighter, I was up higher than I’d been and thought that maybe I should call Ray before he heard from someone else Pat was leaving the trail. Ray answered and I said’ “Pat is leaving the trail.” Ray then said, “So are you!” (That was so unlike Ray to say something like that.) I quickly and adamantly said that I was not leaving the Camino!” (I thought he meant that he didn’t want me doing the trail alone!) Ray said that something terrible had happened. I could not believe when Ray said that a dear family had died. Of course I was going home. My sister Ginny and her family were arriving in Palm Springs the next day. I wanted to be there. I was in shock and disbelief. I tried to gather my thoughts to get a plan of how I was going to tell Pat to wait for me as I was going home too. I had a Spanish SIM card in my phone but had never made a local call. I didn’t have the number of the NH Hotel, and I don’t speak Spanish well enough to trust I’d understand the operator. I called Ray and asked him to call an International operator. Ray doesn’t know how to do things like this but he tried. He needed the phone number of the Hotel he was told.
Ray eventually called Pat at our hotel, after looking up the hotel on the Internet!!!,telling her I’d find a way back to Pamplona and to not leave before I arrived. I didn’t know how I’d ever find a taxi when I got to the next tiny village. I walked the empty street one way and then the other way before knocking on the door of a Pension. A nice man called someone and told me a taxi would arrive in an hour after the driver dropped his kids off at school.
I reconnected with Pat, we took a taxi to the train station and are now on the train headed to Madrid to see about changing our tickets and getting on the first plane home.
I can’t wait to see my family.
Orisson – Roncesvalles
I’m finally getting to write up this day’s blog entry from some bullet points I kept. There is very little down time here on the Camino. When our day of hiking ends we begin getting ready for the next day’s hiking, showered, fed and prepared with snacks for the next day
We left the Orisson Alburgue way before anyone was up. We hiked by the light of Pat’s headlamp. It was very windy and walking on the narrow road I was concerned with cars driving up behind us (there was no room to pass us off the mountainous road) and with the loud noise of the strong wind we couldn’t hear an auto approaching and because of the light from Pat’s headlamp on the road we also wouldn’t be forewarned by the head lights of an approaching car, so I asked Pat to turn her headlamp off.
The higher we walked the windier it got. We put our rain jackets on. I also put my backpack rain cover on as one of the many large clouds looked dark enough it might release some rain.
We passed a Pilgrim who had gotten caught in the evening lightening storm trying to hike to Roncesvalles around 10pm last night. He said he slept under an over hang and prayed for his life as the lightning landed all around him! yikes.
We’d been reminded that because of some Pilgrims and their not so nice manners Basque Sheepherders we not happy with the Pilgrims. Well we ran into a Basque Sheepherder and went over to talk to him. We were impressed with how he communicated with his dog and precise his dog was herding his sheep. Of course I took photos. The gentleman brought his dog over and let us pet him. It was a wonderful experience watching both the man and his incredibly we’ll trained dog work the sheep spot on moving them exactly where he wanted the sheep to go.
All along this mountain road we saw sheep, wild horses, hawks and farm horses. Bells hung from the animals creating all too familiar mountain music all morning. We stopped for a quick snack break and just after we were getting up to walk again, rain fell. The first Pilgrim to catch up with us had just said he didn’t think it would rain. I told Pat he’s not very experienced reading weather. We’d been watching the approaching cloud letting lose of rain as it approached. The hiker was wearing shorts and a tee shirt.
The dramatic black skies against whiter sky and a thin sliver of red sunrise hopefully will make for some good black and white photos. I was cold but loving this morning and all the photo ops. I walk ahead of Pat and then wait for her. This morning I got cold waiting. Sometimes I take lots of photos and then catch up to Pat. This seems to work but it is difficult when two people have such different paces. I now understand why some of my backpacking friends can’t backpack with me:-)
Right after our snack break while it was still raining we came up on a roadside snack truck. I bought some of the local sheep cheese made by the vender along with two slices of nice looking bread.
All the many Pilgrims started passing us after about 2 hours. We ran into Cate and her daughter, Erin who we sat next to at dinner the night before.
We ended our day’s 10.5 mi section at 2:30pm. This was Pat’s longest day ever hiking. My body and feet felt good. The Dueter pack works well.
There were no hotel rooms to be had in Roncesvalles. We tried the three hotels and asked a nice taxi driver to call the next little town for a room. No luck. So we headed over to the Alburgue, a massive one, clean, we’ll organized and MANY rules. Lights out at 10pm, no packs on our bed, no shoes anywhere inside, but free! Not coin operated 5 minute showers. They have a water spinner for your clothes if you washed them yourself. I washed mine and the lady helping in the laundry room said no when I asked if I could get my clothes dried in the dryer. The dryer is only available to use if one’s clothes had been washed in the washing machine there. Understandable.
We’d grabbed a quick bite to eat, a Spanish Omelete (like a quiche made Ali’s with potato) rather than make reservations at one of the 3 dinner settings for the Pilgrims staying at this Alburgue. All the other 3 restaurants required reservations and they were also full.
I was tired and got into my lower bunk at 7pm (the hospitalero had compassion for Pat and me and gave us lower bunks!). I got a lot of sleep.
Sunday, Sept. 7th
St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson, 5.6 km
Out the door at 6:00am after having set our alarms for 4:45. Neither Pat nor I slept much again. I went to bed around 11:00pm and woke up 12:30am wide awake. After deciding to journal Friday and Saturday’s blog I got in another 2 hours of sleep.
Pat let me know it had rained last night. I know last night Pat was concerned throughout the night with the lightning over our route she could see from her bed. I assured her (like I really knew) it was nothing to be alarmed about. It was only the kind of lightning that illuminates the sky but doesn’t strike down to the ground. Fog had rolled in last night and was still present this morning. I was thrilled Pat didn’t bring up doing the other Camino route strongly recommended when there is fog! I just casually mentioned that the fog would burn off before long. (Again like I really knew!) what I did know was that I wanted to hike the Napoleon Route for the views and photo ops.
We packed up and headed out in the dark, in wet clothes we’d washed the night before that hadn’t dried because of the moisture from the rain. The street lamp out front of our hotel cast great light on the street so I asked Pat to come back a few feet and stand in the street again while I shot her photo. I had the ISO up at 5000 and, on the Fujifilm XT-1 I’m shooting with, I knew I’d have lots of grain in the photo but didn’t care. I liked the look of the foggy, dark, but we’ll lamp lit, street scene. I shot many low lit by street lamp and early morning light fog shots with Pat featured, usually in silhouette. I was in heaven shooting braking morning light through the fog that was in fact lifting as I’d promised!
Pat’s glasses were fogging up from the cool of the morning and her over heated body. Mine were fogging a little too but I can see when I take my glasses off, Pat can’t. She asked me to stay in her vision so she could follow me.
We were the only Pilgrims on the Camino for about an hour. But then they started passing us, and from then on everyone of the 200 plus in town beginning their hike passed us….even one kid in a group of teens smoking while walking up the hardest hike of the entire Camino. We are slow!!! But who cares, right? I enjoy the leisurely pace so I can shoot everything I want without worrying that I’m holding someone up.
The first day’s hike from St Jean to Roncesvalles is known as the most difficult day’s hiking on the Camino. It is straight uphill (without benefit of switchbacks for the most part). Now we only hiked to Orisson today per Pat’s request. This is a new adventure for Pat. However, these miles where we gained approximately 2,150 feet were harder than the same elevation gain on the PCT because as I mentioned we walked straight up hill with little to no relief. Pat really was a trooper today. She kept walking a pace that allowed her to keep moving without stopping much. Both of us were surprised that our bodies, feet and knees experienced no problems at all. It really helped that we left as early as we did avoiding the worst of the heat. I don’t really know what my pack weighed but I’d guess around 30-32 pounds. Everyone was dripping with sweat on the way up.
We arrived at the Albergue in Orisson by 10:10 am. So early to stop walking but that was our deal. It has turned out great. We’ve showered, washed and hung are clothes on the clothesline out back, rotating clothes on the line so the’d dry, had coffee with milk x two, eaten two meals and will have our third meal at 6:30pm with the other Pilgrims staying here. Pat had made us reservations at this Albergue months ago. Many Pilgrims were very disappointed they couldn’t stay. There are only 18 beds and tenting out back. We were given one of the two rooms that have only 2 beds. Other people are placed in rooms with people they don’t know.
At 6:30pm a group dinner was served to all of the Pilgrims staying at the Albergue. I was not looking forward to this. The meal was quite good…. Bread-lots of it (dry, never with butter), delicious white been veggie soup, pork slices and more beans!!!, and potatoes au gratin and almond pie-like cake (very tasty and I understand they are famous for it).
Those who work and run this Albergue are extremely good natured and very helpful. I was impressed with how quickly and politely they dealt with each of us throughout the day. Dinner conversations going on we’re difficult to hear with over 50 people talking to one another. During the end of dinner there is a tradition we were told about. Everyone goes around the room introducing themselves to the group stating names, home town, how they came to hike the Camino etc. Not my kind of evening as many of you know but I was pleasant and no one knew what I was thinking. But when one of the humongous cows stuck his head into the dining room for a second I was out the door shooting photos of that cow and all his other friends walking down the small street 10 feet from where we were dining.
While hastily changing camera cards the top cover over the card holder flipped off. That problem had my attention until I figured out a way to replace it.
Back to our room I found out my headlight batteries were dead. Set up my charging station with all my techno gear plugged in. In a matter of minutes the loudest thunder boomed. Rain fell hard and furiously and lightning kept the small window above Pat’s head looking as if someone were shining a flash light into our room. I closed the window. Walking toward the door I noticed a stream of water moving quickly right by the iPhone, iPad and camera battery charger I had on the floor. I unplugged it all just in time. Eventually our floor was flooded and the electricity went out. Pat felt sorry for the people sleeping in the tents out back. I didn’t. They were probably dry. Our room was all wet. That storm came in so fast. We were right in the middle of the storm cloud. Getting packed up in the dark for our early pre dawn departure was interesting. We used Pat’s headlamp. With no light and nothing to do, I went to bed early!
Tuesday, September 9th,2014
At 6am and not a minute sooner we were allowed to get up, pack up and get ready to head out on the Camino. That’s the way in Albergues. They tell you what you can do and not do. Actually this was a very we’ll run organization and the hospitaleros who volunteer their services were exceptionally nice.
Not long after our departure in the dark, in the midst of 200 other departing Pilgrams, Pat and I got separated. Pat thought I was ahead of her (remember its dark), and I had no clue whether Pat was ahead or behind. So I continued ahead hiking fast enough on the dark uneven trail that Pat typically walks very slowly on. After walking for 10 minutes and not catching up with Pat I thought I should go back to where we lost each other at the beginning. No Pat. Now I start hiking fast believing she was ahead and I just hadn’t caught up to her before I turned back. But I couldn’t see her. I kept walking and came to a small supermarket where I saw lots of other hikers outside. No Pat. I stayed at the market afraid to go inside to buy the triple AAA batteries I needed (the line at checkout was humongous) for fear she was in fact behind me and might walk by the market and not see me.
I left the market after about a half hour, stopping at the first cafe a few km along the trail. No Pat. I asked people I knew and didn’t know if they had seen a woman walking along looking like she was looking for someone she had lost.
After waiting and watching everyone but Pat walk by I started walking further along the trail, really thinking I should just hike on by myself and hope I meet up with Pat at Zubiri, 13+ miles from our start. But 15 minutes into my walk I thought I can’t not go back and find out if the Cafe had wireless to see if I could leave a message on Pat’s phone. The Cafe did not have wireless. So back to the trail surrendering the fear and worry I had about Pat. You see that morning I had offered to carry Pat’s Camino Guidebook for her, leaving her without one!
I could go on and on relating stories of all the people I asked if they’d seen Pat or to look out for her and let her know where I was.
We left hiking at 6:30am and finally way after I’d given up hope of finding Pat on the trail, I came up to another Cafe in Biskarreta. Not optimistic I scanned the few outside and then saw this lady jump up waving her arms and I breathed a sigh of the greatest. She and I hugged and said we were so happy to find each other.
The good news….. We made many good friends and now everyone knows who we are! We’d not participated in the fellowshipping with the other Pilgrims.
The trail entertained us with ever changing scenery, lots of farm animals and beautiful quaint towns. This relatively easy but hot trail was Pat’s longest to date. 13+ miles!!!
But I get ahead of myself. After reaching a roadside street vender where we took a much needed foot break we resumed hiking the remaining 1.8 miles to Zubiri with Dave and Bev and a new acquaintance from Brazil.
Just when Pat said that the rest stop did her a world of good, I heard…… Noooo!!! I immediately turned to see Pat face down on the rocky trail, obviously badly injured as blood was dripping from her face, glasses on the ground and 1.5 inch gash in between her left eyebrow and eye. Dave, Bev, Miley and I began to address her injuries. Between all of us we had enough supplies to get her bandaged up, calmed down and back up on her feet, at which time her nose started to release blood and under her eye there was swelling and blood pooling. We did make it down the remaining 1.5 mi to town only to hear no room vacancies anywhere and no local medical facilities. Pat was feeling weak and scared. We needed to have a doctor check her out right away.
Bar Baserri was where we sat Pat down to figure out a plan. The waitress Rosa, owner Maria and the bartender went out of their way to make Pat feel comfortable. They called for an ambulance that wouldn’t come because they had a more seriously injured person. They brought ice to Pat for her swollen eye. They kept coming back to check on her and then ordered a taxi to take us to Pamplona to the hospital where we could also find a hotel room.
So here we sit in the emergency waiting room to be seen by a doctor. We should have told them Pat had chest pains. Everyone else is getting called before us. It is 10:30pm. So much for me getting a taxi early tomorrow morning to do the Camino section fro Zubiri to Pamplona while Pat takes a rest day.
Finally in our somewhat expensive hotel in Pamplona.
Pat was seen by a doctor at midnight in the emergency hospital. She does not require sutures to the gash under her eyebrow. Butterfly strips will do the job. Yeah. X-rays determined her nose and check are not broken. Yeah again. She has to take antibiotics to prevent infection where pooling blood remains under her left eye but from the blood that came from her injured nose.
The nicest taxi driver drove us arovund for a half house trying to find us a hotel that had a room.
Pat is showered and almost asleep. I on the other hand am unshowered struggling with wifi and the internet to work. Always!!! It has been one hell of a long day. I must go get showered and sleep.
Rest day tomorrow.
Sept 6, 2014, Sat
The fact that Saturday is an important day is that Sunday all stores are closed. That means food stores too. Not having food when I want to eat is scary than anything else. We begin the Camino tomorrow and our guidebook says there are no cafés or places to eat or buy food along this beginning section to Orrison. So Saturday it’s important we not forget to buy food for breakfast and lunch. We get dinner at the hostel we have reserved two beds in. Not only did we not forget to buy food today I ate like it was the last day I’d ever eat again.
Woke up late this morning we knew we would. I didn’t get in bed until 3:30 am Friday night. I’d been warring with posting problems with WordPress, the slow internet in general, getting my wireless camera photos available to post on my WordPress blog and password problems for every site I use to blog and upload photos to. I finally got so mad and my mind was gone from jet lag that I really couldn’t think and was making more problems for myself. I was spending too much time on troubleshooting and needed my sleep. I’ve kept brief notes of what we did Friday and Saturday because I’d had similar internet posting problems on Friday too. Basically I just stopped blogging (to get back at the internet) and now Sunday morning, after only 1 and a half hours sleep, I woke up knowing I needed to get something of what I did today and yesterday or the days would run together and I’d never remember what I did, saw or felt.
So, I’m going to write up from a few listed bullet points from those almost lost days:
Sept. 5, Friday
“We coined the phrase, “it is what it is”. Pat and I like to have all our ducks in order. We are anal about knowing what is coming up. Worrying about the what’s ifs is hopefully going to change. (We’d been discussing the fact that the stores may be closed for siesta time when I needed to get my SIM cards for the iPhone and iPad.)
We met our first Perigrinos. Pat today brought up I had said Peligrinos (like the bottled water) instead of Perigrinos while talking to our first Camino people we met, Keith and Linda Smith from Portland.
We amazed ourselves with how well we were doing finding our way around, especially with the train situations. Pat is very good at this.
A highlight in a negative sense of this day was when it took almost two hours to get me hooked up with a Spanish SIM card company. Pat practiced patience beyond her comprehension unlike the long unhappy line of customers behind me! If it hadn’t been for a beautiful young Spanish/English speaking couple who took me on as their own personal project communicating non stop with the salesman I’d still be there! I gave she and her husband (who had just said to his wife, “honey we have I go now” two Starbucks gift cards as a thank you. I’d bought about 5 cards before I left on this trip to give as gifts when giving a tip would be awkward.
We were really hungry after the SIM card experience and stopped for a bite. Well that’s all we had was a bite. Our ordered hamburger was raw! But the upside was I got to photograph a gorgeous in love like devouring each other with their hands, expressions and eyes at the next table over. They had to be having a new affair. Hot, hot, hot.. Pat was afraid they’d think I was a hired private detective for one of their mates and come take and break my camera!
We got a great room at the Hotel Pamplona Plaza only blocks from where our afternoon train dropped us off. From the train depot we had no idea where to go to find an area with hotels. After heading out walking to see if we could find something with no luck in the direction we were heading I stopped a girl walking her dog to ask if she knew of any closeby hotels. She did and personally offered to walk us over to it. Wow!!! Miriam the really helpful front desk person was also great in getting me the name and address of an Apple store in Pamplona. They are called K-tuin not Apple. I’d lost my iPad camera card uploader.
The night from hell with internet stuff!!! Bed 3:30am after I said, “I give”.
Sept 6, Sat
Up at 9:45 am. Apple store opens at 10 am. No need to hurry. Took taxi to store and then had breakfast at a table with a lady who was neither Spanish nor French. She kept talking to us but we couldn’t understand a word. She just kept speaking louder and louder thinking maybe we’d get it.
Back to the Apple store to ask questions about transportation to St Jean Pied de Port. Taxis were ridiculously costly so she recommended the very closeby bus station where we could buy bus tickets for $20Eu. After a two and a half hour wait we boarded the bus for the 1.5 hour drive to our Camino starting town with about 25-30 other Pilgrims (Camino walkers). That bus driver was excellent at maneuvering the single lane windy road that would scare anyone.
We headed straight to the Pilgrims office we’d read and heard so much about, where we got our Pilgrim Passports. One needs to get this Passport stamped daily to prove in Santiago you walked the entire trail or section as the case may be to receive papers at the end. Very exciting.
Next I bought trekking poles and a small knife. Couldn’t bring those in my carry on luggage. The rest of he day we walked around looking for a hotel not hostel. We eventually checked in at the Arrambide Hotel, a very luxurious hotel when we found most hotels had no vacancies. We don’t love the price but love the hotel.
Did I forget to mention the chocolate crepe we ate earlier? Oh we’ll..
We also walked up the beginning of the trail so we’d know where to go in the wee dark hour of 5:30am when we depart on the Camino! Yes. It does begin. On the way back I stopped and shit some photos from the bridge over the Nive River (not sure of name). Have mostly been recording rather than being creative with my photos.
And now maybe I can get in 2 more hours of sleep before my alarm goes off!
September 4, 2014, Thursday
No more training. No more counting how many days left before we leave to walk the Camino de Santiago. Today we boarded our flight and am I excited.
Fifteen minutes before Ray was to drive me to meet Pat at the Palm Springs airport Ray and I were both seated at our desks on our computers. I was completing the last thing left on a to-do list so long I never thought I’d get done when Ray said, “Did you see Frank’s FB post?” “I said, “No.” Ray then read what Frank had posted, “Breaking news…..the road to Santiago is closed!” I thought that was hilarious. Many aren’t so thrilled I’m going to be away for 45 days.
Next thing Ray said I did not enjoy hearing. “Come look at this Linda”. What I see is a picture up on FB with Pat seated, right leg extended and elevated, on an ottoman in her living supporting a bag of frozen peas.” Pat had slipped and fallen on wet pavement earlier in the morning delivering something to her friend Suzy!!! Her knee was hurt. I can’t even believe this happened. Melissa had commented on Pat’s FB post saying something like….Well that makes for a good first chapter in a book.
At the airport Pat appears ok. Her leg isn’t hurting much. Pat Wood, who had driven Pat to the airport, had circled around the airport and come back to see if Pat was ok. Ray, Pat, Pat and I all stood around for a few moments joking about what had happened’ taking pictures and then said our goodbyes.
Our first flight to Fort Worth, Dallas passed quickly even though it was about a 2 hour and a half flight. First Class makes every ok.
We are now on a 9.5 hour Business Class flight to Madrid. We were served a nice dinner on trays covered with table linens. Following dinner we were served a hot fudge Sunday made to our liking (I opted for the addition of 1/2 butterscotch and 1/2 hot fudge topping on my dollop of ice cream and all was topped off with a tiny bit of whipped cream.
We were given tablets and Bose head phones to access music, games etc during our flight – free of charge. I watched A Kevin Kostner movie called First Draft. Pat watched Chef.
One needs a college degree to operate the seats we are in. They are as large as some of the massage chairs in Relax The Back stores. There is so much room in front we can push one of the 12 position buttons and nearly lay the chair down to a full out sleeping position. The problem is that even though I only got 3.5 hours of sleep last night, I can’t fall asleep. ( hence this journaling)
I am wearing no jewelry. Not even a watch! Pat isn’t wearing one either. We laugh at how many times we have lifted our arms up to look at the time on an arm with no watch. This is going to be interesting. We really want to let go of needing to know (things). Going with the flow is not in my nature.
I had opened the shade to my window as I liked seeing the night lights below. The steward came by and asked me to close it saying he didn’t want to have to later lean over me to close it as the morning light is really bright after sunrise. I wanted to look at my watch and say ” Sunrise isn’t for xxxx hours!” But I didn’t have a watch to look at! I think I wanted to keep the window shade open so I’d know I was still over land and not the ocean. Ocean crossing flights freak me out for some reason. I asked the steward how long it would be before we started flying over the ocean. He said that he’d find out and let me know. He forgot though.
I better try to get some sleep as Pat is sleeping as I type.