The second part of my Camino blog takes me from the start of the Camino Francés in St Jean to Logroño over a 7-day period. I spent most of this section walking with new friends and spending all day, (and night) with them walking, eating, drinking and sleeping together so my notes are pretty sparse. However there were lots and lots of photos and close bonds made to help refresh my memories of the first week on the Camino Francés.
Day 3: St Jean Pied de Porte to Roncesvalles (25km)
“Everything is wet” (Journal Entry)
Somewhere around 06:00 I’m awoken by rustling and movement as people start to get up, washed and packed for the day. It’ll soon become a familiar alarm call and actually a late start by Camino standards, but I don’t know this yet. I have a decent eyemask and earplugs having heard all about the rustlers, snorers and squeaky bunk beds so keep them in place until 07:00. It’s dark until 07:30 so there’s not much point starting out until then, especially as it’s a relatively short stage at 25km. I’ve got my morning routine sorted now so it takes me 45 minutes from removing my earplugs to finishing breakfast, saying my goodbyes and quietly leaving the albergue on my own at 07:45.
I walk out, and then straight back in… It’s raining and cold, so I switch out my puffer jacket for the waterproof and put my arm warmers on. I’m still in my shorts though, it takes a lot for me to put my long trousers on! Most people have ponchos, notably one made by a company called Altus which is distinctive as it’s very long and also has a special “hump” on the back designed to expand and cover a backpack. There’s a little shop in St Jean a few yards from the start of the Camino which is doing a roaring trade in them at around 35€ each. I don’t need one – I’ve survived for years in the mountains with my trusty Montane Atomic jacket and a decent layering system. Everything in my backpack is sealed in drybags so after the quick change I put the hood up and head out again onto the start of the Camino Francés towards the Pyrenees and Spain.
The first stage of the Camino Francés is notorious as being the toughest stage of the entire route, it’s a baptism of fire for a lot of pilgrims starting in St Jean. Many arrive unfit, with little walking experience and very heavy packs and opt for the Napoleon route which is a 25km hike with 1,390m of ascent. Even the “easier” Valcarlos option is has 990m of ascent before you get to the sanctuary of Roncesvalles. People regularly die on this section, in the film “The Way”, Martin Sheen’s son dies on the Napoleon route which prompts Mr Sheen to walk the Camino. I was told that a South Korean died recently on the Napoleon prompting the South Korean authorities to issue a warning about the route. We’ll come back to the South Koreans later as there’s plenty to say about them.
Just outside St Jean you have to make the decision – go left for the high Napoleon route, or right for the lower Valcarlos option. Having been warned that the Napoleon is closed due to snow it’s an easy decision for me – I’m not prepared for a day in the cold, snowy mountains, I don’t have poles or warm gloves and I’m wearing trail running shoes without enough grip for snow and ice. If conditions are bad then I know I could be in trouble very quickly, plus by the looks of the low cloud – there won’t be much to see up there anyway, so I turn right and head along the road on the lower, Valcarlos option. A lot of people obviously didn’t understand, hear or care about the warnings though and turn left to do the Napoleon route. Many look very unfit and unprepared, huffing-and puffing already after walking a few hundred yards up a gentle slope out of St Jean!
The first hour-or-two is pretty depressing – walking along lots of road in bad weather, we’re still in France and the markings are sparse and sometimes confusing. There’s not as many people on the trail as I thought but I’m steadily passing people. On the Camino when you meet/pass another pilgrim it’s normal to say “Buen Camino” – literally “Good Path”, to which the reply is normally the same. After a couple of hours I pass a chap and issue the greeting to which the reply is “shorts weather is it?” in a distinctively English accent.
I’m feeling a little more sociable so reduce my pace and reply “Always!” after which we fall into step and strike-up a conversation, my first walking companion of this adventure. Robert is a retired lawyer from Manchester, a few years older than me in his 50’s but we have quite a lot in common so I’m happy to chat. I hadn’t planned on walking with anyone but it’s nice to have some company especially as it’s easy to get lost on this section. Soon after we inauspiciously cross the border into Spain we arrive at the little village of Valcarlos in pouring rain and decide to have a coffee, the last chance for a rest before tackling the 800m climb to the next shelter in Roncesvalles.
It’s a steady climb to Roncesvalles and we pass lots of people visibly struggling especially in the mud. I succumb to the conditions and put on my long trousers and an extra layer before it gets too cold. At one point, close to the top there’s a big fallen tree and I have to help an English lady negotiate it by pushing her up and over the branches! Everyone seems to remember that tree… Robert and I take a breather at the top, a few hundred yards before the albergue stopping for 10 minutes which is a mistake as we both get very cold, very quickly and by the time we get to the albergue in Roncesvalles I can’t feel my hands or toes.
It’s around 13:30 when we get to the albergue, it doesn’t open until 14:00 and there’s already 20-30 soggy, shivering, cold pilgrims queuing with more arriving every minute. Some seem to be in a worse state than others, I see a couple of people collapse and the medics rush over to them with blankets! The albergue sells ponchos and is doing a roaring trade to people who didn’t buy them in St Jean, (not me). As instructed, we take off our wet shoes and put them in the shoe room – I’m glad I’m wearing my Altra Olympus, they’re pretty unique. I’m not sure how people identify their shoes amongst the hundreds of generic walking boots!
At 14:00 the albergue opens and the Dutch hospitalarios, (volunteers) let us in and up to our beds. It’s a very, very nice albergue… With 183 beds contained in blocks of 4 bunk beds across several levels it’s modern, spotlessly clean with a hint of Scandinavian IKEA-style minimalism and simplicity. We’ve all been assigned bunk beds so after finding my bed it’s straight into the shower and out of the wet clothes before the mad rush. Our floor soon fills-up with pilgrims stripping out of their wet clothes and the once tidy appearance degenerates into what looks like a crazy jumble sale as people empty out their backpacks and hang their wet clothes up in any available space. The background chatter with all the different nationalities makes the scene even more surreal, it’s a mix of Korean, English, German, Spanish and other languages. I begin to notice a large number of South Korean pilgrims which seems odd, not a nationality I’d have associated with the Camino.
Robert and I have all our admin done so head off to the local bar for a caña, the Spanish term for “a beer”. There seems to be no standard measurement for a caña, sometimes it’s about 250ml, sometimes 500ml – it just depends on the bar! We have a couple and head back to the albergue. Robert goes off to mass at 18:00 but I’m not ready to embrace religion yet so hang around the albergue until it’s time for dinner at 19:00 in the local restaurant.
It’s a communal dinner, and I head down on my own as Robert is still at mass. As I enter I see Anna Maria, Janine, Koos and several others from St Jean but am ushered to a spare place on a table at the far end of the room by a stern waitress. There doesn’t seem much point in arguing so I go with the flow. On this table there’s five South Koreans, a couple of Italians a Swede and myself. The Koreans are all talking to each other in Korean and everyone else is sitting silently, I’m stuck between a Korean and an Italian so turn and try to spark a conversation with the Italian by introducing myself. It’s pretty unsuccessful, the Italians look really grumpy and the Koreans are their own little unit. The Swedish chap seems equally uncomfortable but he’s on the other side of the table so I sit quietly taking in the scene!
As the meal wears-on, an elderly Korean gentleman who’s with a young boy, (we’ll meet him again later) offers to fill my wine glass and empties what’s left in the bottle into my glass. He then disappears off somewhere. One of the Italians, (who has been refusing wine all night) angrily exclaims something in Italian and then, when it’s obvious no-one understands him says “it’s for all of us“! The Korean gentleman returns seconds later with another 2 bottles of red wine and offers the rest of the table more vino tinto, that shuts the Italian up but it’s really uncomfortable and I’m glad when the meal is over and escape as soon as possible.
After the meal I return to the albergue and retire to my bunk, Robert returns soon after along with Koos. The weather looks bad again tomorrow so we make plans to have breakfast and walk together again, soon enough it’s 22:00 and lights-out in Roncesvalles.
Day 4: Roncesvalles to Zubiri (23km)
“We have a little group coming together” (Journal Entry)
At 05:00 the rustling and movement begins in Roncesvalles as people start to pack-up and ship-out of the albergue. It’s not light for another 2 hours, what are these people doing? I re-squish my earplugs deeper and put the eyemask back on until the lights go on at 07:00, breakfast isn’t until 07:30 so there’s no point in thinking about getting up yet. By the time Robert, Koos and I leave for breakfast at 07:30 the albergue is virtually empty.
Breakfast is disappointing, orange juice, a piece of toast and coffee. Not even a slice of cheese or some ham… We’ll come to learn that this is pretty standard in Spain, they seem to live on coffee and a slice of bread around here until midday, you have to go a long way to find bacon and eggs, (though we’ll eventually find some much further along the Camino). It’s raining as we head back out onto the Camino and the famous “790” sign reminds us that we’ve only just started our journey.
Koos has bought a nice, blue poncho from the Roncesvalles albergue and is determined to get his money’s worth out of it so is determined to wear it. Once again everyone seems to have a poncho apart from me, I have put my long trousers on today though – as a minor concession to the weather.
At some point we bump into Anna Maria and Janine and stop for coffee at a place called Café Juan in Viskarret. It’s full of damp pilgrims and a group of locals who seem to be getting loaded on wine and brandy at 10:00 on a Sunday morning, I must say – I can’t fault them. We’ve given a warm welcome though, they must be used to seeing a daily, steady stream of foreigners dressed in ponchos and hiking gear come into their local!
Robert reveals that he has a plan for each day of his Camino, he’s been through the Brierly guide and worked out end-of-day and coffee stops for each day. That’s a little too structured for me, but for now – I’m happy to go along with it. We’re heading for Zubiri which is only 23km away so, even with a coffee stop it’s 12:30 when we get there so we stop for food and a caña before finding an albergue around the corner. It’s a nice, private albergue so after a shower, quick change and hanging out the wet clothes head back to the cafe for a coffee.
Anna Maria and Janine arrive at the cafe and we tell them about the albergue but they’re pushing on for another 5km to the next town as it’s still early. We head back to the albergue and I head down to very nice lounge for a beer from the vending machine. After a while, Robert and Koos come down and we’re joined by a young chap called Jack. It turns out Jack is the president of Oxford University Students Union and on a sabbatical year, he’s been in Pamplona talking to the University there and decided to do the 3-day section from St Jean to Pamplona while he was here. He walked the Napoleon route on the first day and showed us photos of the conditions, I’m glad I didn’t go up there – he tells stories of people up on the high route who were struggling and had to turn back, I’m glad I took the low route, my shoes wouldn’t have coped with the conditions I saw on his photos.
Jack joins us for dinner at a truck stop down the road along with Rachel who he’s been walking with. Jack is doing the “Prime Minister Degree”, aka PPE – Philosophy, Politics and Economics so Robert and I joke that he’ll be Prime Minister one day. When the bill comes we somehow overpay and allow Jack the benefit of the overpayment, threatening that when he become Prime Minister we’ll sell the story about how he took advantage of old, retired pilgrims in Spain. It’s a fun evening with good company, even though we’ve all only known each other for a matter of hours it feels much, much longer – conversation is open, free and easy so we make plans to walk together into Pamplona tomorrow.
Day 5: Zubrini to Pamplona (21km)
The weather is better as we head out of Zubiri so I’m happy to be back in my shorts again, it attracts a couple of comments from other pilgrims as we pass them as I’m still the only person I’ve seen in shorts. As the sun burns off the mist we’re treated to amazing views back over the mountains. The trails are quite narrow so we alternatively walk and talk with each other and I spend a bit of time chatting with each of my companions.
Rachel introduces us to her concept of “Legends of the Camino“, this being that you meet interesting and unusual people on the Camino. You then tell other people about these people, (normally at night over a few drinks) and they become a Legend, with their story being passed up and down the trail. When you factor in the Chinese Whisper effect, these Legends become exaggerated over time. She tells us the “Legend of Roman” which goes something like this.
Jack and I met a young German lad called Roman who told us in a typically dry, factual German manner that he had given up alcohol, cigarettes, sugar and women for Lent. Jack asked him which was the hardest to give up, he replied “Coffee” – which was not even on the original list!
Later on, we’ll bump into the Legend of Roman again and see how he’s getting on! I like the idea though, I’m undoubtedly a recognisable character on the Camino. I’ve got the smallest pack I’ve seen, am the only one wearing (bright blue) shorts and have distinctive and increasingly bushy sideburns. I’m also moving faster than everyone else and even in our little group – don’t think that anyone has walked past me yet.
Robert’s planned coffee stop is closed, much to his annoyance so we head straight into Pamplona to the big albergue, getting there for 12:00. After a quick change it’s back out to catch the start of a big bike race starting in Pamplona today. We just about catch Alberto Contador being introduced to crowd and watch the chaotic start of the race in the Plaza Major. It’s a huge event and the Plaza is packed with people, bikes, support cars and TV cameras – all a bit overwhelming after several days wandering through the countryside and mountains. After everything dies down Jack, Rachel, Robert and I find a bar for a caña and something to eat. Looking through the menu I spot a “Horse Burger”, I can’t resist so order one and Jack joins me. It’s nothing special to be honest, but very welcome in the sunshine.
After lunch we head off in separate directions for a bit of alone time, I need to find some shower gel and sun cream after leaving mine in Roncesvalles. I’ve already caught the sun from an hour-or-two over lunch in Pamplona, I can only find Factor 50 but it’ll have to do for now. Pamplona is famous for being a favourite haunt of Hemingway and also the Running of the Bulls where they let 6 angry bulls rampage through the streets while brave/stupid/drunk people try to outrun them and avoid being gored and/or trampled. But that’s not on today so I just wander around and sit by the Cathedral sketching for a while before heading back to the hostel.
Anna Maria and Janine have arrived at the hostel so they join us for dinner in Pamplona along with the rest of our group. Jack is heading back to the UK so bids us farewell after dinner and a few of us head off to Café Iruña for a nightcap which was apparently favoured by Hemingway. Then it’s back to the albergue before curfew at 22:00
Day 6: Pamplona to Puenta de la Reina (24km)
Robert, Koos and I leave the Pamplona albergue early in order to get out of the city before the traffic gets too busy. It’s a big city and it takes us a good hour to get out to the suburbs, past the University and to our first coffee stop before the big climb of the day. The Camino markings are a little sketchy at times but every time we stand around looking lost a car slows down, a local leans out of the window and points us in the right direction. Spain really embraces this whole pilgrimage lark – something that becomes more-and-more apparent as this journey continues.
The coffee stop is welcome and we meet Justine from Australia in the cafe who we’ve met before back in Roncesvalles. Shortly after that, Rachel arrives as well – having stayed in a different albergue last night. After a welcome coffee it’s time for the climb up to Alto de Perdon, (“Mount of Forgiveness”) where there’s a metal sculpture of pilgrims heading West and fantastic views back over Pamplona.
I have an interesting chat to Justine for a while, she’s a teacher and a devout Catholic and talks about how she’s trying to introduce Jesus and God into all areas of the curriculum. I’m intrigued about how she’s planning to mesh theology with trigonometry but decide it’s probably best not to push the issue too much. After my experiences in the USA, I’m wary about revealing too much about my non-religious beliefs especially as this is a pilgrimage but so far, to be fair it hasn’t really come up.
About 30 minutes from our planned stop at Puenta de la Reina there’s an optional 5km detour to a Templar church called “Eunate”. It’s still early so Robert and I decide to go for it but Koos and Justine want to press-on so we say our goodbyes. The Camino is like that, people come-and-go in an instant. Someone you’ve made a really close bond with can disappear in seconds and you may never see them again. Koos and I have exchanged numbers though so I believe that I may see that crazy Dutchman again!
Eunate is a fascinating little church linked with the Knights Templar who used to protect and defend the pilgrims on the Camino. Further on down the trail towards Santiago there’s much more Templar history, but it’s something I didn’t know. As we get there a coachload of Spanish schoolchildren arrive but the caretaker who is originally from the USA lets us look around and gives a brief history of the place. As we leave the school leader points us out as “peregrinos” and the kids take pictures with their phones of these two strange foreigners, walking across their country with their backpacks and scallop shells hanging off them.
Puenta de la Reina is a nice little town, the albergue is a bit shabby and the dormitories split into separate male/female rooms which means our room has around 24 men crammed into bunk beds. It’s going to smell ripe later tonight. Robert and I head off for a caña and then we go our own ways to explore a bit. Rachel texts me to say she’s in an albergue “over the bridge” so I head over to say hello and we all plan to meet up for dinner later.
Dinner is OK, Robert Rachel and I head back to Rachel’s albergue for a nightcap and then head back to our albergue before curfew. It’s party-time in our albergue though and we find ourselves sat in a weird group with a people from all over the world – all of whom seem to be speaking different languages but understand each other. Also in this group is the elderly South Korean gent from Roncesvalles who poured me some wine that annoyed the Italians so much. It turns out Kho is 70, from Seoul in South Korea and has walked the Camino a few times before. He is taking Juan, his English grandson who’s 12 on an adventure for a couple of weeks after which Juan will return to the UK and he’ll continue. He’s proud of his Korean ancestry, speaks very little English and the rest of the group seem to be making fun of him when he can’t explain himself. There’s plenty of wine flowing and although he seems happy enough it feels a bit mean as the rest of the group openly laugh at him, (not with him). I’m not comfortable with the situation and clearly Robert isn’t either so we leave them to it and head off to the dormitory to call it a night
Day 7: Puenta de la Reina to Estella (22km)
As expected the dormitory smelt like there had been 24 men sleeping in it this morning. Robert and I packed-up and shipped out fairly quickly and had a excellent breakfast in a local cafe before hitting the Camino again. Early-on we passed Kho and Juan, waved and shouted the customary “Buen Camino” at each other.
At some point we picked-up Rachel, Anna Maria and Janine and walked all day into Estella. I don’t have many notes or memories from today, there’s some moody photos of dark clouds and shadows but aside from that I can’t recall much from the actual walking part of the day. We walk, we talk and occasionally stop for a coffee!
My notes tell of seeing The Legend of Roman, (remember him?) at our coffee stop – he came in as we were in there and Rachel pointed him out to us. Amusingly he was with 2-or-3 attractive young girls that he hadn’t been with before. We wondered if we would see him again, on Easter Sunday lying drunk by the side of the Camino – drinking coffee, eating ice cream, smoking a huge spliff engaged in an orgy with these young ladies!
Tonight we decided to try a less popular parochial, donativo albergue… Basically this was a free hostel which only asked for a donation. Rachel had slept at a slightly more obscure albergue last night, as had Janine and Anna Maria and both said it was nice and quiet. After the chaos of our albergue the previous night, Robert and I were up for a change. We got to Estella just as the albergue was opening and were greeted warmly by a couple of ladies from Ireland/New Zealand. They were new hospitalarios and had only been there for a day-or-two, the heating and hot water had been on the blink and they didn’t seem to know how anything worked in the albergue. It was “homely” and they were glad to see us!
Robert somehow managed to use the last of the hot water so I endured a cold shower as the plumber fixed the problem, managing to return the hot water just as I finished drying myself. We threw a load of clothes into the washing machine and headed out for the compulsory caña in the Plaza Major. Robert managed to accidentally spill a full beer all over my nice, clean trousers over lunch much to everyone’s amusement so they had to go back in the washing machine.
Dinner in Estella was nothing special, the hospitalarios told us about a mass in the local convent the next morning at 08:00, apparently it had singing nuns which were “divine” and not to be missed. I might not have been ready for religion a few days ago in Roncesvalles but divine singing nuns sounded like something I couldn’t miss.
Day 8: Estella to Los Arcos (22km)
Robert went and found breakfast for everyone and we were treated to warm croissants and pain-au-chocolates before heading up the short walk to the convent for mass at 08:00 and the singing nuns. After taking a wrong turn-or-two we managed to get into the tiny chapel just after the start of mass. Inside there were 9 nuns arranged in banks of 3, the mother superior, the priest and one other member of the congregation. The mother superior quickly gave us all books with the service details in as we sorted ourselves out as quietly as possible.
Each of the nuns took turns singing and well, I’m not sure I’d call it “divine” but is was a different, serene start to the day instead of the usual chaos of exodus from the albergue. The best bit though was when, during one of the solo sections an elderly nun sitting directly in our line of sight seemed to nod-off and fall asleep. The nun next to her gave her a quick prod and the nun woke-up with a start and let out an equally startled “OOOP”. You couldn’t have scripted a better scene in any comedy. Needless to say, we all saw this and Rachel and I started descending into giggles, visibly shaking trying to stop from laughing. At one point I thought I was going to have to walk out of the mass, it was like being back at school. I could see Rachel shaking out of the corner of my eye and it set me off again. It was one of the highlights of the trip! Additionally, from my viewpoint it looked like the priest was bent forward reverently most of the time but – according to Robert he was actually playing games on his iPhone!
Just outside Estella there’s a legendary wine fountain which offers free wine to pilgrims and something we’d all been looking forward to. Somehow we missed it, although – to be fair it was only around 10:00 so doubtful that we’d be taking full advantage of the free vino. Somehow I got blamed for missing the free booze, I’ve no idea how or why but there you go. Throughout the rest of the journey, whenever I told people we missed it they couldn’t believe it – apparently it was like Las Vegas, neon signs and arrows with a shop selling souvenirs and everything? But – by all accounts the wine was rubbish anyway, so I’m not heartbroken about it.
The rest of the day was spent tramping across the countryside to Los Arcos, endless vineyards and rolling hills. We found a decent, private albergue in Los Arcos and headed into the Plaza Major for afternoon drinks and snacks as usual.
In the square we met up with loads of people we’d met since St Jean, as we’d not been moving very far each day and generally going by the stages recommended in the Brierly guide book there were certain “choke points” and Los Arcos seemed to be one of them. Kho and Juan were there, along with Rosita, Roger and many others so we all arranged to have dinner together at the local restaurant.
I don’t recall much of interest happening at dinner or afterwards, my journal has a final entry saying simply “No time to blog – remember tomorrow”
Day 9: Los Arcos to Logroño (28km)
I have nothing written in my journal from today, but several pictures from the day refresh my memories of events of the journey into Logroño and the evening that followed.
We went for breakfast at a local cafe, and were treated pretty badly by the owner who didn’t seem to care for the pilgrims. We waited a long time to be served, and despite ordering in Spanish were treated with contempt. It was very frustrating and after watching my companions being treated this way decided to walk away and do without breakfast. Anna Maria generously gave me the ham from her tostada as she didn’t want it, hopefully it would be enough to keep me going until Robert’s planned coffee stop a few hours down the road.
En-route to the coffee stop we pass the South African couple I’d met on the bus journey into Bayonne 10 days earlier. They recognise me, and remember my name – calling me “Gee” as my name is pronounced in France/Spain so I slowed down for a while to chat to them. I think they’re finding it tough, but at least they got through the Pyrenees in decent weather having started from St Jean a couple of days before me. After bidding them “Buen Camino” I walked past a girl who comments that I’m (still) the only person she’s seen in shorts and we strike up a conversation. Monique is a pretty 20-something GP from Amsterdam and keen to tell me her story. I can’t resist so The Legend of Monique is born!
Monique came out here last year and fell in love on the first section of the Camino, she had to return home after 2 weeks but returned to finish the Camino with her new love. She’s keen to tell me all the stories of people who fall in love on the Camino and how all the double rooms are booked towards the end of the trail. Without missing a beat she then tells me she’s no longer with her Camino love and if I’m single! So, I tell her yes – I am single, and she then asks what I do and how old I am… This is getting weird! So I tell her I’m 46 and not working at the moment, I have a feeling she thinks I’m younger than that but asks if I’m rich as I can afford not to work…
Before things can become more like a speed-dating session we arrive at the coffee stop for the day and I introduce Monique to the gang who are already there. I think that cools her off a bit as I’m in a group with several women and I head inside to get a coffee, when I return she’s got chatting to a much younger looking American lad that we’ve met before on the trail – good luck my friend and I’m sorry Monique, it just wasn’t to be!
After coffee we continue towards Logroño stopping in Viana for another coffee before tackling the final 10km into the big city. Over the last few days I’ve noticed that Rachel becomes very grumpy at the end of the day so I volunteer to try some different tactics to help. I tell her stories, feed her chocolate donuts but eventually conversation turns to hats and I dig out my peaked cap from my backpack and give it to her.
I don’t wear a hat because it obscures a lot of your field of vision when walking in nice, scenic places. But a peaked cap can focus your attention when racing, so we dub it “the cap of concentration” and it works! Rachel makes it to Logroño reasonably happy – result.
We’ve had an albergue recommendation in Logroño so check in and are assigned a 6-bed dormitory, just about big enough for our little posse. Dinner tonight seems to have been arranged after last night in Los Arcos with an increasingly large group of people in a restaurant.
For tonight I go along with all this, but I feel that I need to move-on from this group. We’re becoming too much of a clique, and I hate cliques. I want to walk longer, at my own pace, on my own terms. I want to be alone with my thoughts to work out stuff that needs to be worked out. When you’re in a group you either need to compromise to fit in with the group or cause friction and conflict within the group. I quietly make plans with myself to head out on my own tomorrow morning and start a new chapter in this adventure.