Day 3 I arrived in Zubiri, exhausted after my day’s Camino. I found the local municipal albergue and checked in for the night. Outside there was a shoe rack, where all the pilgrims had to leave their shoe, to prevent smelly feet fumes stinking out the rooms. Pretty tired I didn’t think much of it and placed my walking boots on the rack.
That night I had one of my worse night’s sleep. I didn’t like the vibe of this albergue. It was right on the main road and someone had left the hostel’s door wide open. I got a bit paranoid about someone walking in and stealing my stuff. When travelling, I always sleep with my valuables under my pillow, but even so I felt uncomfortable. Eventually around 1am I went to the toilet and closed the main door.
The next morning I went through my typical routine, but when I go to put on my boots it was suddenly “Uh, Oh!”. The boots I picked up weren’t mine. Initially I didn’t think anything of it and headed back to the shoe rack, but they weren’t there. I checked the other rack, but still no sign of them.
By now most of the pilgrims had started their day’s Camino and there was only 4 pairs of boots left on the shoe rack.
None of them mine!
The realisation of NOT having my boots and possibly being unable to continue my Camino started to sink in. Deflated I decided to call Ian back home. Has his phone rung, my emotions got the better of me and I started to cry. For the first few minutes of the call Ian couldn’t get any sense out of me as tears fell. Eventually I calmed down and relayed the story of my missing boots to him.
Bootless and disheartened, I did briefly contemplate giving up on my Camino and spending the next few days on the beach like most normal holiday makers. However, after speaking to Ian, we came up with a plan, I would determine if there was a spare pair of boots left on the rack and track down the owner. If they had been mistakenly taken there would be a high possibility they would be staying at the next municipal albergue in Pamplona. In my terrible broken Spanish I spoke to the remaining pilgrims and determined there was a pair without an owner. Hurrah!
With new hope, I hit the road to Santiago in my walking sandals, and carrying the ownerless boots in my pack. I was sure I’d find Cinderella in Pamplona. I had been getting some icky sweat rash wearing my heavy boots, so it was actually nice that my feet could breathe. Walking that day I became obsessed with everybody’s feet. Every pair of shoes I walked passed, I would check out, desperately hoping to find my boots. Though if I had spotted them, I’m not sure I would have confronted the person wearing them.
Despite the terrible start, I still managed to have a good day on the Camino. It was like a typical day on the Camino, except wearing sandals. I walked, chatted with some lovely people, and walked some more.
As the day wore on, not having the soft cushions of my boots, my feet started to feel the impact of the constant pounding on the ground. By the time I reached Pamplona, after 22km in sandals, my soles felt like they were on fire and both feet were tingling, so it was a relief to reach the albergue.
Forever the optimist, I had hoped there had been a simple mistake and my boots would be waiting for me in Pamplona. However, disappointingly, on arrival I did not find my walking boots or Cinderella. Still not ready to give up I decided to leave the ownerless boots at the albergue’s front desk with a sign:
Are you these your shoes? You took mine this morning.
The next day there was still no signs of my walking boots, so I had to eventually admit they were definitely truly and utterly lost. There was no way my feet could survive another full walking day in sandals. The only option now was to stay an extra day in Pamplona and buy some boots.
Google was my friend, and I managed to track down a travel shop. I was slightly dreading how this was going to pan out with my broken Spanish, but by some small miracle the lady spoke English and within 10 minutes I was walking out with new shoes. My Camino was back on.
I still can’t believe I lost my shoes on day 3 of my Camino. I refuse to believe a pilgrim would be so mean and steal my boots. It’s weird I had a troubled night worrying about being robbed, to discover the next day in fact my boots were taken. So, I think someone from outside must have taken them in the middle of the night. I don’t think I could have done anything to prevent my boots going walkabout. The first night I slept with my new shoes under my bed; however, in other albergues I tried to take them into my room, but even with my sob story they wouldn’t let me. So, I paid extra attention of where I put them, to prevent being taken in mistake I tied a white bag to them and I put a peach stone in one of the shoes to cause pain if anyone tried to steal them.
Losing my boots could have ruined my Camino, but I chose not to let it. The only thing I can take away from this not so typical day on the Camino, is a funny story of the day I lost my boots.