Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When will we return?

     We feel stupid and do not know quite what to do. In Sangüesa we were told that we would find a campground in Lumbier for about 12 euros, and although it seemed somewhat expensive, we decided to stop there, do laundry, take a shower and have the luxury of getting up a little later, and letting our tent dry completely. But now the guy at the desk tells us that it is 20 euros. It hurts our souls to spend on one night the same as we have spent in one week, but we are tired and it is already very late, so laziness does the rest and we accept. At least we can stay there until after lunch, and so we can spend some time, because we are not expected by our host in Pamplona for two days, which is just 50 kilometers away. By the time we leave the campsite we are convinced that it was not worth it. 

     We foolishly climb a steep mountain believing that way it would be easier to find a place to camp for the night, only to find the horizon too steep and a dirt road littered with stones. Overwhelming logic tells us that near the river we find a better place, so that in ten minutes we undo what we have gained in an hour and we are back on the national highway. It will not be long before the headwind once again wins the battle and we give up for the day after just two hours of pedaling. The next day we arrived to Pamplona in the afternoon, thus ending the thrilling race in which the winning horse is the slowest. In Pamplona once again we have to wait, our host does not arrive until ten at night and we are already eating in the Arga park at two in the afternoon. Good thing it is an enjoyable afternoon in the company of the king of Sangüesa. 

     We're back with nostalgia to the place where we lived last year. We are here to do some paperwork that cannot be easily done (the tax return online in Navarra is an invention of the devil). Angel lets us stay at his house four days until we succeed. The last day we're in Pamplona a Japanese man arrives at Angel´s house. He wants to do St. James´ Way by bike, but without a bike. He has come with only a couple of backpacks and has to buy the rest, including saddlebags, helmet, tools. Because Angel has to work, we are lucky to remember the past when we were the ones who we gave shelter to travelers, and we guide Tetsuya through the city to our favorite store, Bigarren Eskua (mean resale in Basque). It was there where we went over a year ago asking about a handlebar throttle and where we ended up deciding to order a couple of new bikes to travel around the world. How well these two brothers have treated us! 

     After all this time sleeping in a warm bed, it´s an effort to get moving again: the danger of getting comfortable in civilization. Our next goal is Ainhoa, or so we thought. When we arrive in Zubiri, we look at the map that they gave us in the tourist office (which, incidentally, we will take only a couple of hours to lose). There I find the easiest way to cross the Pyrenees is not through Ainhoa​​, and I comment this to Gabriel, he thought I wanted to go through that French town just because it has the same name as me. But at this point we are not going to backtrack, let alone go along the crowded coast, so we eat all the fruit that we can and get enough strength to climb the Artesiaga pass. At first it is extremely comfortable, hardly any cars and the scenery is very beautiful. But the last kilometer is too hard for me. The only record of resistance that I could beat in my life has been a file from the sixteenth century, not on a bike. It occurs to us the idea of ​​using a rope and a couple of carabiners to try to tie the two bikes and have Gabi tow me. A mistake, we both almost fall to the ground. So, finally, Gabi does the last thousand meters twice, first with his bike and then with my saddlebags. 

    The descent into the valley of Baztán is a different story. We descend a gentle slope that takes us without realizing it  (literally) to Elizondo. There we stay with Joseba. We arrived to his house very early; we have never finished a stage at six o'clock. We knock at his door and he is not in, but we have no way of getting in touch with him because he does not have a mobile or a landline. We wait a little bit, walk around the village and return home. No one. We some card games and try our luck again. Two hours later with still no sign of life and we begin to worry, thinking that we must find some shelter in the village to sleep. When we had already made ​​up our minds, he appears leisurely strolling through the square with a friend and asks us if we are us. We had written a confusing message that had made him understand that we would arrive the next day. But we still had time to enjoy a nice dinner and an interesting conversation with some nice Baztán cider. Joseba helps us to plan the route that will take us across to France. We don´t know whether it will be better to climb the Otsondo pass or the less hard Izpegi. On the map there are only a few meters of difference in altitude, but Otsondo seems an almost straight line whereas Izpegi looks like a snake with arthritis. At the tourist office we had been assured that Izpegi could be hell to climb up on a bike, but it is the option Joseba recommends to us. And so we continue to add knowledge to the list of lessons: "Do not trust the description of a mountain pass made ​​by a person who has just gone up by car." Certainly Izpegi is a pass to climb motorized slowly, with too many curves and very poor visibility. But it is a delight on a bike, with a very accessible slope that is gradually done without a superhuman effort. 
Slowly we climb the 690 meters of Izpegi, which in French said  670 (sic) from d'Ispeguy. On one side is a Navarran valley and on the other, France. 20 days and 800 miles later, we say goodbye to Spain leaving a question in the air: when we will return? 

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