There is something about spending an afternoon with a group of men that is simply unlike an afternoon spent with a group of women. I state the obvious, I know, but it deserves stating.
This morning: found myself awake around 5 or 6 a.m., never really managing to slip back to sleep. Something about people coming and going at all hours in the hostal. Not that we're talking screaming, drunken laughter or sounds of breaking glass -- just other human beings coming and going during the long Navarran night. The lights in the hostal's hallways apparently work with motion detectors, so that when someone comes up the stairway or out of the elevator, the lights flicker on, going off a short while later. The single window in my little room looks out on a light shaft. Windows from the stairwell look out on the same light shaft. Any time a body ascended the stairs or stumbled from the elevator the lights came on, then went off. On and off. On and off. Fun.
So I found myself awake, but remained horizontal until 9 a.m. Got up, did the basic preening, headed out. The narrow streets of Pamplona were nice to wander at that hour, with atmosphere to burn and few folks about.
Satisfied my internet jones, Curtis appeared, retrieved me, we went for food/coffee. I was never really a coffee person in my life in the States. Now it's close to being indispensible. Of course, I'm talking Spanish coffee, not the American version. And though I've only been here slightly over 24 hours, it's already clear that the food in Navarra, or at least around Pamplona, is superb. Tantalizing. Robust. Delicious.
We found an open joint, had the day's first caffeine infusion and the day's first tapas. Wandered about a bit, trying to find a hardware store (una ferreterķa), me in serious need of duct tape and so far seeing no trace of it anywhere. Curtis has asked people about it, they all claim to know what he's talking about, but no one knows what it's called here, no one seems to know where to locate some. Swell.
Stopped in at another coffee/tapas joint, an old, elegant place fronting one of the city's many plazas. More good coffee, more excellent food. On impulse, we went into el Museo de Navarra. A beautiful place, as it turned out -- spacious, airy, with a collection that spans materials from 2500 years before Christ to contemporary art -- crystallizing a feeling I've had that this area feels an awful lot like places in Ireland.
We cut the museum visit short to continue the duct tape hunt. Found two ferreterķas, both of which closed at 1:30. We, of course, arrived about 1:36. Much swearing in Spanish and English.
Gave up on the duct tape thing, walked halfway across the city to rendezvous with two friends of Curtis' for the day's main event, a jaunt out into the mountains for a meal at a sidrerķa.
I found myself in Fiat's version of an SUV, being driven by Marco, an Italian living in Pamplona. Jim -- a large, funny, florid-complexioned American married to a Spanish woman from Burgos -- rode shotgun, deep into conversation with Marco as we headed up into the mountains beneath gray skies. Curtis and I sat in back, him pointing out passing sights, mostly old, old, old churches.