Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sabbath in Pamplona

Made it to Pamplona -- with all connections intact. And there were a lot of them, none of which I had control over. Planes arrived on time (more or less!); Lisa met me at the busy airport in Madrid -- only a few minutes after I got through customs. We found our way on the wonderful Metro system to Atocha train station. We surveyed one very crowded place to buy tickets, but then made our way over to one that sold "same day" tickets -- far less crowded. Arrived in Pamplona as scheduled, and we found our hotel just inside the old walled city, only a kilometer away. Our room faces west, the way we head tomorrow.

I look out the window a lot, observing the wind turbines that the map shows us we will pass, looking at the mountain (that´s certainly what it looks like from here!) that we´ll climb (The Hill of Penance, it´s called) wondering what Pamplona will look like from the top. I´ve studied the maps, noting where all the fountains will be located. From what I can tell, we´ll need them. I´ve tried to figure out how far we might get and where we´ll lay our heads. We´ll have to make a lot of connections tomorrow.

Finally, we´ll have no more control over making them than we did yesterday.

How to prepare? I suppose we should repack; I suppose we should wash clothes; I know we should get a good rest tonight. But do you want to know how we did prepare today? We slept late. We rested. We wandered around. We walked the old city, visited its churches, checked out the neighborhoods, had lunch then ice cream.

In effect, we took sabbath. The right way to begin pilgrimage.

Pamplona, by the way, has walled cities within walled cities. There are three neighborhoods -- and they didn´t get along. The Basques didn´t get along with the Franks. Who didn´t get along with the Navarrans. Who didn´t get along with the Basques. Each neighborhood had its own saints, its own church, its own craftspeople; they all fought constantly. The three neighborhood churches look like fortresses -- and they were! At some point in the Middle Ages, the neighborhoods built walls around their boroughs. All the while, Pamplona itself remains one of the most fabulous fortified cities in Spain, and people came from all over Europe to take notes.

Walls within walls. Maybe the medieval pilgrims had the right idea: the best way to deal with walls is to find the gates.

And simply pass through them. We´ll do that tomorrow, leaving the historically beleaguered Pamplona behind. We´ll wave from the mountain.

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