This is my first view of the great monastery of Roncesvalles. And it is very welcome.Now for the test. I had been told about the provisions made for pilgrims. Some places free, some donations, some 3-7 euros. I wanted to believe it. My sense tells me that nobody, but nobody would charge so little for a night sleep and a shower. I have enough in cash to take me to Santiago if it is true. I also had my credit card if it was not. So sit I at the large refectory table that is in the office in the gatehouse. I fill in the form ,get the passport stamped and find to my delight that pilgrims really are welcome. They are charged a small amount for the night. I do not expect very much for so little. I am overjoyed that it now seems that what I had been told and had read about pilgrimage is unfolding. I walk down the wide roadway, past the split rock of Roland, towards what has clearly been a great tithe barn and is now the Alberque of the Abbey. Inside it is not the under converted barn I am expecting, but it is a beautifully fitted out, open plan dormatory, with well appointed facilities. On later visits I realise that there are too few showers with little hanging space. On this visit it is heaven. I am very tired. So a quick shower and a rest. I take the booklets that I have brought and begin to study them with eyes that have not looked as closely as this at these materials, thinking about and planning the following day.
After my rest, I go for a walk. Examine the Church. Sink a beer. Discover that the meal is not until after Mass. I book a meal ticket. Hans slopes up. He has had a good day, high in the hills. It is now that he explains that his thirst for the route Napoleon is because his last trip was on a bike. It is a first for him as well. The last trip was up the road I have just walked. As a guide his star is sinking fast. Never mind I buy him a beer.
I feel the need to be along and pray about the gbp so I leave him in the sunshine and go once more to the Church. My prayer are in words albeit in my mind. I go over once more my troubles. This is no different from what I have been doing all day. So what have I been doing all day? What is this I am doing.? I'm I thinking or praying. Was I praying then and thinking now or the otherway around? I am a little tired to tangle with that metaphysical problem at this stage of today. So I got out again into the sunshine to wander about.I wander about for so long, forgetting that there is a small matter that I have not altered my watch, that I miss the beginning of Mass. Well let's be honest about half of the service. I am annoyed at my stupidity. I stand at the back and join.I recieve and am blessed. Shortly I am outside once more with an small animal devoring my guts. I really need Dinner. And I need it now.