Before catching our morning train out of Madrid, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local cafe. We are quickly learning that potato chips are a crucial component of the Spanish diet, not even to be neglected during the morning breakfast hours. Jeanie selected a simple meat breakfast sandwich, which was accompanied by chips and, much to her satisfaction, a coffee which appeared far more similar to the standard American cup of morning kick than that which she was met with prior.
After the internet went out at the hotel, check outs were delayed and we found ourselves speed walking through town to get to the train station on time. Fifteen minutes before our train departed we weren’t exactly sure what was happening or where we were supposed to be, but a series of fortunate events and quickly flowing lines found us boarding our first train ride in Spain!
Part way through the ride, Jeanie whipped our her meter to calibrate her Dexcom sensor. She had put a new Dexcom sensor on that morning and because it was two hours later, it was time for the double finger stick to calibrate the device. Jeanie completed just that, with train starting and stopping, all with kindle in perfect balance on one knee.
Once we made it to Pamplona, we found a taxi for the rest of the way to St. Jean. Two minutes into the ride, which we were sharing with two other hikers, Jeanie’s PDM device (Personal Diabetes Manager) went off signaling that her blood sugar was high. She looks at me with “that face,” realizing her PDM was in her backpack buried in the back of the taxi. She took a deep breath, unbuckled her seatbelt, and performed an incredible twisting maneuver over the backseat while sandwiched between two people. Our taxi entered the highway, alarm ringing because there is an unbuckled passenger, and Jeanie hanging halfway over the backseat. Diabetes has a special knack for calling your attention in the very moments you want to catch a deep breath and a break! After a few minutes of rummaging upside down through her buried backpack stuffed with gear, Jeanie resurfaced with the PDM and was able to make the adjustment to have it go quiet. At least we had an early chance to explain to our two alarm-annoyed cab companions where we were from and why we were doing the trek– to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and to work towards providing the best possible resources for travelers who are insulin dependent. There is always a win if you look for it, right?
The taxi ride continued over one of the curviest roads we had ever been on. Half an hour in the driver asked if we were ok. We answered yes, proud to distinguish ourselves from the weak stomached tourists to which he was clearly accustomed. “Good,” he replied, “cause it is going to get a LOT worse!” And with that, and a brief indicator of where the barf bags were, we glanced hesitantly at each other and were off again.
We arrived at the St. Jean tourist office, where they were extremely helpful in helping us to reserve beds at a hostel and setting us up with our Pilgrim’s Passport. This little booklet is an iconic trip souvenir where different cities along the way provide their unique stamp. At the end, your passport is full of these stamps signifying that you did complete the official trail, all stops included.
We spent the next few hours wandering the enchanting little town with flags hanging across the streets, markets displaying vibrant fruit, and various languages ringing out against the acoustics of the stone streets and old buildings.
We ate dinner at a little corner restaurant and ordered a large salad each. It was amazing! We marveled over the freshness of the ingredients, and the rich warm lamb cheese atop soft baguette. We spoke briefly over the following day, the first on the Camino. Eager would be an understatement. Tomorrow will bring 18 miles, and we have been told it is the most difficult day on the Camino- both for the distance and the steep accompanying incline. That being noted, we are heading back to the hostel for a good nights sleep! We will check in tomorrow and let you know if we made it through the Pyrenees!