Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 26, Monday 20 June, Arzacq-Arraziguet to Arthez-de-Bearn, 30.5 kms

We left soon after a good breakfast: a couple of bowls of coffee and heaps of bread and jam. Soon found ourselves walking the edge of a beautifully reflecting lake. 

Walked through farmland and got talking with a elderly shepherd about rugby and the All Blacks after showing an interest in his sheep. 

Lots of walking up hill and down dale with much steepness to contend with. It's to be expected as we near our destination - the Pyrenees. 

All the pilgrims are excited about sighting the snow capped mountains which look sensational from so many angles but for pilgrims ending at St Jean they signal the conclusion and for those going on to Spain they mark the commencement of a whole new chapter. 

The day was sunny and the hottest we have encountered thus far. Quite a lot of walking on narrow tar-sealed roads with the tar getting soft and runny. These hot roads really cook your feet. 

We are getting to know Francois who hails from the Champagne region but he unfortunately has not brought any of his local produce in his pack. He is an experienced pilgrim who a couple of years ago had walked from his home to another important pilgrim route from Vezelay. Yesterday he ventured off the Way and on to some farms. He arrived at the gite with lots of wild mushrooms. Before dinner he cooked them up and shared them with us before we ate our duck and pasta. 

Today we met up with Francois a few times on the Way. The first time he reported that he had found three truffles. The next time he said he'd just had a phone call from home to tell him he'd become a grandfather. 

One further insight from our duck meal last night: the meaty duck wings were served but no one picked up the wings in their fingers. Queen Elizabeth's fine habit of eating chicken with her fingers hasn't taken on in France. 

We arrived at our gite at 3.30 and find that we know many of the other pilgrims. We did not pass through many sizeable towns and didn't pass a grocery or supermarket that was open. Owing to it being a Monday and possibly a festival day, most of the pilgrims have no food and all food shops are closed. The gite manager has arranged for a nearby restaurant to open for us so we won't starve. 

So often when we have known we are nearing our village one of us has said: "That looks like our town for the night." Then the Way has taken a 90 degree turn and we end up somewhere else. So many reminders about the unpredictability and the surprises in following the Way. 

We continue to be grateful for the health and opportunity we have to be walking this Way in these five weeks. Today we have had another rich feast of beauty. 

C'est la Vie!

Geoff and Lyn Pound 

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

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