This is the second installment of a series I'm posting about my experiences hiking a portion of the Camino De Santiago in Northern Spain this past summer. And, yes, I've already changed my mind. I originally intended to break down the hike day by day, and most segments work well for that, but the initial day is just too much for one post.
The Camino Frances Route begins in St. Jean Pied De Port France, literally meaning "Saint John at the foot of the mountain pass". The first thing you do when you arrive there is to get your "Credencial" or, passport from the pilgrim office. Volunteers here ask you if you are hiking the Camino for religious reasons, or adventure. About a third of those hiking claim their motivations to be religious. I mark "adventure" on my Credencial, but as I mentioned before, it is a spiritual journey nonetheless. At each town along the way, you will have your Credencial stamped, so when you have reached Santiago De Compostela, you will receive your plenary indulgence from the church. Wiki calls this is "the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven".
We get a bite to eat and then head to our accommodations for the night, a bed and breakfast (breakfast being coffee and bread with a bit of cheese) run by and eccentric French woman who moved there several years ago as a form of semi-retirement. She spoke incessantly, and only in French. She didn't seem to care that neither I, most of my travel companions, nor two German hikers staying there could understand much of what she was saying. What I did understand was hysterical as she described all the snoring and farting that awaited us at the 120 bed hostel in "Roncevaux" (Roncesvalles, Spain) after our 16 mile hike the next day.