Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 24, 18 June, Lanne-Soubiran to Aire-sur-L'Adour, 20.7 kms

Had an early serve-yourself breakfast with a few pilgrims who had emerged before 7am. Noticed last night at dinner and this morning at breakfast that the man we shared a room with brought a big medicine container to the dining-room table.  Rheumatism and a heart disorder were some of the conditions he was taking medication for. He was so positive about it and it was inspiring to see that he wasn't allowing his health challenges to torpedo his pilgrimage. 

Only 200 metres on the way this morning and it was a case of donning our ponchos and walking in the rain. 45 minutes later it was sunny and too hot so the ponchos came off again. This happened three times today. People criticise Melbourne for having 'four seasons in one day' but the weather we've experienced in France these weeks has been mighty changeable. 

Walked through beautiful forest glades this morning and plenty of farms that were growing corn and grapes. 

Talked a lot today as we walked about the dinner time conversations that we had last night. We pressed the gite owner to tell us how she came to buy the house. She told us how several years ago she had, while walking a Camino, decided that she'd buy a house and become a gite owner and manager. This place came up on the Internet and it met her criteria of being right on the Camino path, in a rural setting (this village has only 100 inhabitants) and not in need of renovation. She had a high-flying job as a lawyer which she has given up even though some family and friends warned her that such a move would mean professional suicide. The vision and decision to make such a life changing move came as she was walking a Camino. 

Another pilgrim said she was personally challenged by people she'd met on the Way who were seriously attempting to make a difference in the world. She was being inspired to do the same. 

A few days ago another pilgrim told us that her walk was prompted by the death of her older brother three years ago. After the rawness of grief, now she was ready to do this walk in his memory and honour. She said that during the first three days of her walk her tears flowed like the rain. Now further along, she was walking for herself. 

One man, said that his walk was completely a matter for his own private reflections. 

People walk a Camino for a variety of reasons and it is fascinating to hear about these walks as being the sphere for transformations great and small. 

Our walk today was very pleasant and one of our shortest. However, 2 kms before our destination the rain absolutely bucketed down but, other than our extremities, we managed to stay dry, thankfully. We arrived at our gite (Gite La Maison des Pelerins) by 2.30pm, very early for us and a nice change. 

We had been warned about the annual weekend feria (festival with music, dancing, partying and the running of the Bulls) in Aire-sur-L'Adour and that it would be extremely noisy all night. We thought the rain might quieten proceedings but certainly not so thus far! There are loud speakers on every corner of the town centre with a booming base beat blaring out fit to raise the dead. The ear plugs are at the ready for tonight. 

It is lovely to reconnect with pilgrims we have met along the way. At our gite tonight we have already met two pilgrims from last night's gite, two from the night before and a couple we met at the converted school. Visiting the cathedral late this afternoon we met six other pilgrims we have stayed with in various places. 

We love the many greetings we receive and give on the Chemin (Way). The French greetings include:
Bonjour (good day)
Bonne journée (good day - throughout the whole day)
Bon Chemin (good way)
Bon route (good route or road)

We also often hear the Spanish greeting, 'Buen Camino' and the Latin greeting, 'Ultreia' (onward and upward). 

We are amused and we love the French greeting to someone when eating, 'Bon appetit!'. If you're having breakfast, someone arriving in the dining room will greet you not with a 'Bonjour' but a 'Bon appetit!'. When we're having a picnic on the side of the Way, complete strangers will greet us with a 'Bon appetit!'. We may say 'Enjoy' to our dinner companions but Down Under we don't have this wonderful eating greeting like the French. 

Our gite tonight has 3+ levels. It is old, cheery and adequate. Nice to have a room of our own with a sunflower yellow wall and skylight.  


Geoff and Lyn Pound 

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

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