Stage 4: Araia – Alda (21.5 km)

This morning we said goodbye to the tranquil Franciscan sanctuary of Arantzazu.  We also said goodbye to the travel agent, Luis Renes, who walked with us for the first three days.  He told us that he would like to continue to walk with us, but his Australian-born wife has recently given birth to their second child and he needs to be at home to support her.  His organization of the pilgrimage has been impeccable and we will miss him.  Still we can contact him by phone if we need to.

We took the bus back to Araia where we commenced our day’s walk at 11.00am.  Today was a third mountain climb in a row.  It was not as difficult as Stage 2, but it was physically demanding nonetheless.  From the top of Mount Entzia we enjoyed spectacular views.

Then we descended into the picturesque Arana valley which is very rich farm land. We arrived at Alda a traditional Basque village at 6.10pm.  We are staying at Casa Rural Biltegi a family-run guesthouse in the mountain village of Alda. Our Basque guide Fermin left us at Alda to take the bus back to Araia.  Although Fermin did not speak a word of English and none of us could speak the Basque language, we managed to communicate with him and very much appreciated his guiding us through the mountains which are not well-marked.  We thanked him, sang the Pilgrim Song for him and gave him a small gift.  He was very touched and wept.

The owner of Casa Rural Biltegi had organized Mass for the group at 6.30pm, so we walked over to the church in our hiking gear.  The priest was waiting for us.  He unlocked the church and set up the altar for Mass.  He told me that was responsible for nine parishes in the region.  I put on the vestments over my sweaty shorts and tee-shirt and said Mass for the group.  I was so stiff after the day’s walk that I found it hard to climb up the stairs to the sanctuary.

Mass at Alda

Mass at Alda

At 8.00pm we had a lovely meal including fresh salad.

One thought on “Stage 4: Araia – Alda (21.5 km)

  1. Egun On, Amigos.
    There has been for me a pleasure and a great vivid experience, to have shared with your experience in the first four days of the Ignatian Way that you have just begun.
    You have left in me your recollection and an indelible fingerprint. I will never forget you. I will follow you day after day across the blog in Internet. I have a feeling that we will return to see before your return Australia.
    Many graces for the farewell that you did to me. For me there was very exciting the exquisite treatment that you offered to me during four days. Alone I have helped to make to you more bearable the Ignatian Way that you have begun across my experience. With it I have fulfilled my desire to help other pilgrims as with they I have done it in other occasions when I have needed it.
    As he was saying to you when we were starting ourselves after a stop: ¡VAMOS! (We go).
    BUEN CAMINO. That God and San Ignacio you guide.
    A greeting: Fermín Lopetegui.

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