Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 22, 16 June, Montréal-du-Gers to Manciet 28.2 kms

It was a great delight and surprise to look out of our gite at breakfast this morning and see the Pyrenees in the distance. 

Breakfast this morning was a happy and hearty affair. With one person from the Ukraine, one from Switzerland, one from Germany, two from France and two from Australia, we had an engaging conversation in German, French and English. We talked about our destination today. Two were going about 16 kms, we were going 28 kms and two very hearty lads were attempting 43 kms. 

The two who were doing 40+ kms said that they eat very little on the way (unlike us!). They stop for a coffee and one of them nibbles on some sausage he keeps in his pocket. 

Breakfast this morning was typical: bowls of coffee, loads of bread with lashings of butter and a delicious choice of jam, yoghurt and cereal. 

Sven, a young Swiss guy from 100 kms north of Zurich, has walked all the way from his front door and is heading to Santiago and then to Finisterre and Muxia on the western coast of Spain. 

We said 'goodbye' to Anita Dann who had been wonderfully hospitable as the owner of her 'Gite Compostela'. 

After descending from the village, most of the terrain was fairly flat, in fact the flattest that we have encountered the whole of our walk thus far.

In the morning the sun shone and the track was firm under foot so we were able to cover lots of ground quickly. It was a different story when the thunder struck and the rain pelted down and for most of the afternoon we had our ponchos on. 

We walked for the first couple of hours on a pleasant track under a canopy of trees and surrounded by bush. 

Later we walked from one farm to another for the rest of the way. We passed through scores of vineyards, fields of wheat and newly planted corn.

In the early morning we love the sounds of the birds, including the metronomic call of the cuckoos. Today as we walked, we belted out a rendition of the song, 'Morning has Broken' that Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) would have been proud of, such was our wonder and joy at the newness and freshness of the day. 

We stopped around 10 am at a gite for a welcome hot chocolate drink and at midday, when we arrived at Eauze, it was still cold so we deviated from our usual picnic baguette. A hot slice of pizza and some delectable flan hit the spot and we were off full of energy for the last 12 kms of our day.  

We are continually struck by the simplicity of what we are doing and the delight we discover in the ordinary things of life. It reminds us of the discovery of Harold Fry when starting out on his pilgrimage:

"When he dug his teeth into his sandwiches, the nuttiness of the cheese and the sweetness of the bread exploded on to his taste buds with such vigour it was as if he had never eaten before."
(The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry)

We arrived in Manciet at 3.30pm. We are staying at a gite named 'Chez Mathieu'. Mathieu was doing some cleaning but his mother received us, gave us some cool drinks and showed us around. The house is a 600 year old converted boulangerie (bakery) with the original oven still in the kitchen and dining room. 

After walking in the rain on a cold day it was lovely to have a hot shower and rest before dinner. 

C'est la Vie

Geoff and Lyn Pound 

P.S. Some photos from our walk today are posted on our Facebook pages. 

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