“You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”
- Ernest Hemingway "The Sun Also Rises"
My Swedish friend and I connected once again without intending to. We walked together and it seemed strange that police were on the path. We asked some Spanish women if there was anything wrong. They talked to the police and the police said that everything was fine. However everything was not fine. We were later to learn that the night before a local woman was jogging and had been murdered. We also learned that a German man of middle age had collapsed by the wayside and had lain for three days without anybody noticing him on this same stretch. He was quite dead. His money and passport were intact. His family had sent the police out looking for him. The police had at first thought the two events were connected and then later decided they were not. It was only later that I was able to connect the dots by word of mouth and then through reading the articles from the paper through the Camino Forum. There are so many graves along the Camino. It isn't as though one becomes inured to death with this as a constant reminder but a lot of people die on this walk with their families returning with memorials. People leave mementos, stones, photographs of their lost ones on these markers. Oblivious to these sad events we approached Pamplona.
Entering the old town of Pamplona across the Puente Magdalena was dramatic with the gleaming rounded towers of the cathedral. I was immediately drawn to the antiquity of the place, it being over 2,000 years old. Juxtaposed to this and before I was to leave I would see rifles and hear gun fire as the wish for independence from Spain was voiced in this part of the country in addition to the present day unrest in Catalonia.
Pamplona is where Hemingway lived and wrote The Sun Also Rises in 1925. He was later to become disgusted that he had put this charming place on the map as visitors began to flock wanting to see the running of the bulls. The charm continues to be evident though and I visited Cafe Iruna where he ate and held court gathering material for his famous novel. The Gran Hotel La Perla is kitty korner on the Plaza del Castillo and one can still stay in the room where he wrote with the room still very much the way it was when he lived in it.