Dinner last night was a delightful surprise. All the pilgrims in the gite were commenting on how there was not a skerrick of food to be had anywhere in the village for cooking their own dinner - every food outlet was closed for various reasons. So comments began flying around, like - I've got a tomato and 4 biscuits - and I've got 2 slices of ham and one banana. No need.
When the gite manager arrived at 5:30 pmand started stamping our pilgrim passports, she mentioned that someone up the road was going to cook especially for us all. And what a treat of a meal it was! Four courses prepared by a chef, including duck confit and panacotta. We relished it all but, as usual, when it came time to bid our leave politely and get a reasonably early night, no one wanted to make the first move. So we did, and you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief and they virtually leapt out of their seats and followed suit. This happens every night and we always wait for a French person to take the lead, not wanting to appear rude, but not this time.
We had a restless night. French people at the end of their short Camino stage for this year who had planes or to catch were up at 4 am. Then, our fellow roommate kept slurping from his bottle of water all night and trotting off to the loo. If you can't beat'm, join'm, so we found ourselves on the road at 6 am.
The 1st hour was silent & serene. We were walking along a ridge with the moon on our left and the rising sun on our right. What a needed start to a day that would surely test our mental toughness.
Early, perfectly clear skies can only mean one thing: a scorcher of a day. Sure enough, by 9:30, the sun was singeing. With many very long steep ups and downs, we were starting to sag by 11 am, and this despite spectacular views of the snow-capped Pyrenees that kept creeping up on us. François to the rescue. Our Camino friend sidled up from behind, we began 'chatting' in French (a euphemism) and the next hour flew by and didn't seem gruelling at all as our thoughts ranged from types of cows to his deep reasons for walking this Camino. That's not to say we weren't back to drooping after lunch and until we reached our gite at 3pm, but François' steadying presence with us, at just the right time, was such a gift.
Our communal gite tonight is quite something. It took us a while to find but when we decided to ask for directions in a cafe, we got some looks that seemed to suggest we were dumber than dumb because this was the very place where we were supposed to pay our money and receive our stamps - the gite was just a few doors down the road. It is in a building that is a classified historical monument, a former arsenal and residence of the kings of Navarre. The building is impressive, built around a huge internal courtyard.
We have just cooked our own dinner and will get an early night in preparation for another very early getaway tomorrow to do our best to beat the heat. We're the only ones in our little dorm so we don't need to worry about waking our fellow pilgrims with rustling our plastic bags.
Another memorable day to live into fully.
C'est la Vie
Geoff & Lyn