the view from the Rabanal pass was spectacular — heather coated mountains for miles under mostly clear blue skies. I was inclined to day that the stretch from Astorga to O’Cebriero was one of the more picturesque of our Camino but, really, every day brought an impressive sight of one type or another.
we had lots of firsts on our hike from Pamplona to Puente la Reina, foremost being our first really sunny day. a good night’s sleep and wonderful breakfast at the Palacio Guendulain had us leaving a bit later than the previous two days, which made the day even more challenging.
leaving Pamplona we walked through the campus of the University of Navarra (you know, the one run by Opus Dei) into a valley where, apparently, the city used to hang felons convicted of theft. beyond the village of Cizur Menor are the ruins of the original Guendulain manor house dating from the 16th century. from here we started an increasingly steep climb up the mountainside, stopping briefly in Zariquiegui to catch our breaths and refill water sacks from the tap next to the church. it was on the ascent into Zariquiegui we saw our first rescue vehicle — a guarda civil followed shortly by some EMT-looking types — assisting someone who hadn’t prepared for the day’s climb or heat. just above the town there’s a fountain of legend — the story goes that the Devil appeared before an exhausted and thirsty peregrino and offered him water if he would renounce his faith; the peregrino refused and Santiago appeared and led him to the fountain that remains today where the Saint offered him a drink from a scallop shell.
a hermitage and basilica once stood at on the Puente de Perdón which ran a hospital for peregrinos that is documented to have functioned until at least 1816. the buildings no longer remain, replaced by a line of wind turbines along the ridge — a parque eólico — built in the region around Pamplona. in 1996, the association of friends of the Camino constructed an impressive and evocative monument to peregrinos in the gap of wind turbines along the ridge. both our guidebook and the cultural “handbook” I’m browsing now bemoan the change wrought by the turbines — adding their “pfoomp pfoomp” to “ruin” the peace of the Camino. I cannot agree on this count — the turbines are incredible feats of engineering to behold and this is by far the closest I’ve ever been to one. you see them frequently along the Camino and I found it a great reminder of how the Camino and peregrinos have changed over the centuries.