Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Peace in Pamplona

(This is still a part of my Spain series, where I was on holiday from March 10 to 24)

It was my third day in Pamplona, a Sunday. Tired from our trip the day before and with no reason to start the day early, we woke up at almost 10 in the morning. We drove through the empty streets and to the citadella which used to be a military quarter. Again, the fortress reminded me of Intramuros in Manila, only this time, the walls were fairer and smoother. We scaled the walls through rough footpaths. The wide indentations on the bastions were like jigsaw puzzle pieces waiting to be fitted.

After ambling to mostly take photos inside the walls for about an hour, we went to the old part of the town. As it was already lunch time, we found refuge in the oldest bar in Pamplona. People were outside munching on their croquietas and gulping their beer, jovial and carefree. For some reason, I had this notion most of them just came from mass because it was a Sunday. The bar was full to the seams, most people congregating near the bar at the far end of the room, waiting for their freshly-fried croquietas. There was no proper line to fall in. People simply piled up behind the counter and hoped for the bartenders to tend to them. I encountered this first-hand to get second servings of the croquietas. Whatever is inside those golden-brown munchies, I couldn't really care. The piping-hot and creamy filling melted in my mouth and was simply irresistible.
We passed through some of the streets and alleys where the bulls go on a rampage during the feast of San Fermin on our way to the plaza del toro. Around this time, we also passed by the tourist information center to get some tips on worthwhile places to visit nearby, although most of them were closed because it was a Sunday.
My host, Rafa, spotted a friend to chat with, while his daughter played on the grounds. For my part, I spotted a bench. I sat there and saw a man beside me reading his newspaper while a child, probably his, played with the mother. I though of something better to do. Tired of reading and re-reading the brochures I picked up earlier, I stretched, lied down on the bench and watched the moment go by. I saw a nun chatting with a woman across the open ground. I was close to slipping into a siesta called out my name and we should go.
Later in the afternoon, we settled on the park nearby, nibbling on our snack of bread we bought at a nearby alimentacion, and slices of jamon and wedges of cheese we packed along with us. It was cold, but the sunshine invited the children to go and play in the park while the parents and grandparents watched from a distance or aimlessly strolled by. Before evening fell, we drove Einer, Rafa's daughter, to her other house. She'll be back to school the following morning. As for me, I'll be back on the road the following morning, not to school, but to Saragossa.

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