The following morning everyone set off early again. When I was the last one to leave the monastery in Roncesvalles, my own pair of hiking shoes were the only ones there.

At least I was spared the endless quest to find my shoes. The ladies toilets and showers were deserted so there were no queues, brilliant. As it wasn't possible to have breakfast at the monastery, I decided to start off with delicious breakfast at a terrace nearby.

route book

In the end I didn't start hiking until 09.00. Not a pilgrim in sight and the other three dutchies were nowhere to be seen. I passed a sign that said it was another 790 kilometres to Santiago. This was strange, did I only walk 10 kilometres in 8 hours the previous day? Not very encouraging. I decided to ignore it and was convinced this was a mistake.

According to my route book, I had to walk to Larrasoaina, a stage of 28 kilometres in 8 hours. No idea who comes up with these stages. It's actually quite strange, as if one size fits all. It's likely that a lot of pilgrims do actually cover this distance when it's stated as the truth in a hiking guide.

control freak

The surroundings were stunning with lots of greenery. Hills, grass, woods and in the distance you could still see the mountain ridges of the Pyrenees.

I was still struggling with this crazy little route book...inconvenient to keep holding it. I didn't dare put it away in my backpack. On the one hand I didn't want to get lost and I wanted to know where I was the whole time.

It was actually impossible to get lost as there yellow arrows indicated continuously, or the famed scallop shells, as well as other indicators that direct you towards Santiago. Am I simply a control freak? What an unsettling thought. I decided to forget about this. Besides, I didn't have any issues.

zubiri

On the way I passed a number of small villages. After hours of hiking my trusted little book showed that it was far to go to the next village, Zubiri. The path to Zubiri wasn't easy to negotiate. It's trail with constant bumps in the form of boulders and stones running through a wooded area.

My backpack started to pinch and despite the fact that I was happy when my route book informed me that there was a village in sight, the combined struggles continued. The heavy backpack with my new sleeping bag, in an annoyingly noisy plastic bag, attached, along with my camera and route book. I wasn't able to hold my mobile phone as well, so I put this back in my backpack. Also, I didn't want to be reached.

After a load boulders and the necessary missteps in between, I spotted Miss Kiwi's fellow countrymen. I'd already met them earlier in the day. One of the two women had severe problems with her knee and was limping. To be honest this path wasn't easy at all and I too was struggling with my knees.

Together we slowly made our way to Zubiri and decided to stop hiking there, despite the suggested stage indicated in the route book. The three of us found a hostel in Zubiri and proceeded to check in.

surprise

When we managed to grab a bed in the dormitory, the door opened. A cowboy hat emerged. How exciting, there was Miss Kiwi! I hadn't seen her since the first hostel and, of course, hadn't spoken to her yet. She had arrived earlier that day and had whiled away the hours down by the river in the village.

Another surprise awaited! Miss Kiwi informed us that the other three dutchies, Anja, Ilse and Joyce, had also decided to stop in Zubiri. They were in another hostel further down. What a wonderful reunion! We saw each other at the local bar and had a fun time! As if it was meant to be, without having arranged any of it that day.

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