Friday, August 01, 2008


The running of the bulls, the twisted necks and flared nostrils in Picasso's drawings and paintings, the colorful design of the torrero's constricting costume, the red red waving of the cape or scarves in the grandstand of the Plaza de Toros.... none of that is happening tonight. But the city is alive with crowds eating tapas, drinking cervezas and having sticky gooey pastries. And for me, it is soooooo nice to have come over a small mountain into what feels like civilization! I felt joy at the scent of it, humanity in all of its mess, noise, confusion: WONDERFUL!

Especially when, getting here meant coming over the beautiful Puente de la Magdalena (pictured at right here) after seeing from afar the back of the cathedral towering majestically over the green trees around it (a nice view of the Cathedral on the left here). It felt less like a day of pilgrimmage and more like a tourism moment... in ways. After all, I think all of us are hurting a bit, and though spending the day here was touristy, it also meant lots of walinig and wending my way round calles and plazas and parks.

And I say "us" as this really feels currently like a strange mass mouvement, waves of limping walkers and sturdy-legged walkers wending their way up, up UP mountainsides then painfully DOWN, down down the opposite side. Sleeping on bunk beds often in huge dormitories, then hitting the trails again at 6 am. Often we cannot really tell where we are, but there is always a shell painted or plastered or tacked or posted somewhere, or else a yellow arrow. And if in doubt, one can wait for the next pilgrim to take the lead. I find myself sometimes walking alone for an hour or so, then either I come upon someone who was up ahead or is taking a break, or someone comes up to pass me (I must admit, this happens frequently, not only because I go at a snail's pace, but because I do think some folks are out here racing from one place to the next not taking in all of the odd sights along the way: crosses, old architecture, the beauty and constant shifting in the landscapes around us--I tend to currently be obsessed with how many kinds of thistle there are, and how gorgeous thistle is in different light!)

But back to Pamplona. The city which inspired DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON. If you have not read it, rush out now and get a copy. Anna Akhmatova even complimented it. For me, a good ol' Hemingway fan, being here is one of those life goals. You could practically not hold me down as I walked round and round teh Plaza de Toros, took pictures, had pictures taken, strolled the Paseo Hemingway thinking... he was here, alive, full of life here in the days of his life, time folding, steps, images. It is not possible to touch certain people but there is something about sharing a space, even separated by epochs. I was surprised myself by how moved I felt here, looking up at the grandstand, round at the wonderfully serpentine streets, their colorful buildings, varied architecture.

Well, it is time for me to go and have a few tapas before I must get to sleep. Top bunk tonight--hope I don't roll off! Here are some maps for those of you who have been wondering "where?" "when?" I am off over another mountain tomorrow into Puente de la Reina. OUCH... more more mountains!

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