I’ve got my misanthropist on again. I’m starting to regret leaving St Jean on a Monday when the week starts. Today has been a little bit like being on an elevator at Euston Station. If this was August I’d consider getting a flight to London to get away from all the people. At 11am I refilled my water at a roadside café and I counted 22 pilgrims sitting around probably eating butter. There’s a pod of Australians, a coach load of South Koreans, a Peloton of French and a huge pile of fat retired Spaniards. A lot of them don’t have packs. The coach drives their pack to the lunch spot for them. Then they all sit around with lardbutter gateaux talking about how hard it is, before putting the pack back in the coach, getting their snack bag and lumpfrolicking off. They can always sit in the coach and get a lift if it gets too tough on their tootsies. “I went to Santiago di Compostela and all I got was this stupid T-Shirt.” And gout.
I think part of the reason why I’ve been arse to mouth constantly with these tour groups has been because I left bit later than usual this morning. I was struggling to upload that fucking self tape. Half an hour to shoot. A lifetime to upload. I left an hour later than I like to, and it was when I sat down to chant for half an hour at ten that I heard them all filing past behind me in the mist, moaning and chattering like the army of the dead.
At one point I got so fed up “Have you had cannabis I’ve had cannabis cannabis is good how do you like taking cannabis” that I decided I’d get a bus a day ahead to Pamplona so I wouldn’t have to walk alongside these vacuous tits anymore. Then I realised there was no bus so I ordered a €30 taxi because I had it in my head I’d escape them. Then I thought better of it. They’re going to be part of the furniture. I went into the bar to try to cancel the cab.
“Hello. Need cancel taxi.” “Words words words taxi not cancel words words words.” “Ok. Good. No problem. Waitwait me.” She’s watching me. She knows me no waitwait. She goes looking for her manager who’s a big lad and hasn’t been walking all day. He’ll makemake me waitwait, because she knows damn well what’s about to happen. I smile at her beatifically, resist a thumbs up wink, and lift my half full drink to demonstrate it’s still half full. She turns her back. I knew she would. I sprint. I didn’t think I could still run. I’m laughing as I go because there’s something intensely childish about this. I’m round the corner and across the Rabies Bridge before anyone can stop me, and I’m back on the trail. Can’t cancel it but you can still run away like a twelve year old.
Everyone seems to have stopped to sleep in Zubera. I can’t now because some burly Spaniard will insist I pay them €30 for a cab to Pamplona. Just as well.
Back on the trail late I get the peace I’ve wanted. I walk to Larrasoaña. There’s virtually nobody walking at the same time as me. I take in the huge great magnesite quarry, then go walking down a river. DON’T WALK ON QUARRY LAND BAD PILGRIM BAD.
It’s a bit underwhelming so far compared to The Piémont Route, this Route France. I’m hoping to find more beauty as I get further in because after the mountain it’s not been much. Motivation was harder to find today. Also there are signs everywhere telling us that we aren’t allowed to do things. I feel funneled, conveyor belted and managed. We are close to Pamplona now which is the biggest metropolis on the route, so maybe it’s just a bad bit. I’m gonna have to push hard for a few days to get out of sync with these tourgrims plodding around scattering litter as the butter leaks down their pasty jowls. And then I’ll see how it changes. “Welcome to Basque Country” (BIG RED SIGN. NOT ALLOWED. BAD.)
Ps yes. There is a Rabies Bridge. The extremely dangerous superstition is that if your animal has rabies you just drag it across the bridge three times and it’s cured because of some dead Saint… Don’t try it, kids.