St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France to Roncesvalles, Spain

Day Forty Two. 15.6 Miles, 25.1 Kilometers.

Written on May 31, 2012.

Breakfast is served starting at 6:30 a.m. at L’Esprit. I get up to get dressed and organize my backpack, a routine that I have been doing for many days. I sat down, reached for the orange juice and was overwhelmed with emotion. I tried to breathe and sit at the table for a few moments but I clearly had to “sit” with my emotions for awhile. I left the kitchen and went to the Meditation room and lit a candle.

A boot garden at L’Esprit.

After a time of sitting quietly I realized that I was being “called” to acknowledge to myself what I had accomplished to this point. Embracing me, who I am, is part of my journey. Accepting and loving myself with all of my brilliancy and with all of my so-called shortcomings.

From the time we left Le Puy on April 20th I have been challenged on every level. The people of France and the Pilgrims who we call friends have made every moment a time that I will treasure. Their compassion and acceptance of us has shone more brightly than any struggle or inconvenience.

After some time alone I was able to continue with my breakfast. I felt refreshed, renewed and ready to walk into Spain.

Nancy, Gary, Kelly, and Vern.

We met Gary and Kelly last night at L’Esprit. They are from Washington State. We are hearing a lot of American “accents” here today in St. Jean Pied-de-Port.

A couple taking a moment during the several hour climb in the Pyrenees Mountains.

Vern and our friend, Pierre, who we have known since Marsolan, France.

Vern and I had reserved two places at Refuge-Auberge d’Orisson which is located 5 miles up into the Pyrenees from St. Jean. When we arrived at 10: a.m. we decided to have some coffee and talk to the owner about the possibility of canceling our reservation and continue to Roncesvalles.

 

The border marker between France and Spain.

Ostabat-Asme to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Day Forty One. 13 Miles, 21 Kilometers.

Written on May 30, 2012.

It is not easy to be quiet when walking on a floor that is hundreds of years old. It seems like the boards are still creaking after your foot has left them. We left at 6:00 a.m. today and tried to be as quiet as we could.

 

Owner of Chambre d’hôtes-Auberge Ametzanea.

A Pilgrim family.

Gregory, Isabelle, Bernard, and Mary.

The four Pilgrims shown have been a lot of fun for us. We have seen them many times. They are always cheerful. They have a quick pace so we see them when they are passing us. We will miss them. They are going home from St. Jean Pied-de-Port.

After hundreds of miles of walking we are now seeing signs for St. Jean Pied-de-Port! We will soon be at the Pilgrim’s “Gateway” to Spain and to what will be referred to as The Camino de Santiago.

We walk into the walled section of town to find Albergue, Gite, L’Esprit du Chemin. As soon as we topped the hill it was a wonderful sight! A line of soon-to-be Pilgrims at the Pilgrim Office to obtain their Pilgrim Passport.

As we entered L’Esprit we saw familiar faces. Vern and I had stayed here in 2009 when we began our Camino for the first time. It is an Albergue that is not only a place to sleep and to be fed, but the intention behind it is to nurture and support Pilgrims. There is a Meditation Room and wonderful terraced garden area to find privacy.

We quickly left our backpacks and walking sticks and headed to the Post Office. We had arranged to have two packages mailed to ourselves at this post office. We picked up “broken in” boots, the Spain book, and more supplements. Vern had more items he wanted to mail home so we organized a package to mail.

We are in the room facing the street. It is a great way to be a part of the excitement of soon to be Pilgrims and the excitement of Pilgrims starting the next phase of their walk into Spain!

 

Aroue-Ithorots-Olhaiby to Ostabat-Asme

Day Forty. 13 Miles, 21 Kilometers.

Written on May 29, 2012.

Finding our way out of Aroue was easy enough. We just followed the escargot sign like Michel had told us. As we were walking along I heard a commotion and looked up just in time to see many sheep walking towards us. Two or three dogs were keeping them moving along.

Pictured: Commute traffic on the Chemin.

At one point I noticed that Vern had met a friend, a black and white dog.

Pictured: Vern and his friend.

We arrived at Ostabat early enough to take some time to have a cold drink and snack at a local cafe. Just then the group of six came in. There was a computer at the cafe so I showed them their picture on my blog. They loved it. We seem to know just about everyone who is walking into the village.

Navarrenx to Aroue-Ithorots-Olhaiby

Day Thirty Nine. 11.8 Miles, 19 Kilometers.

Written on May 28, 2012.

Just a few minutes from the campground (chalet) where we stayed last night was a great view of the entrance of the walled city, Navarrenx. I wanted to take a picture of the entrance. There was a pilgrim standing there. I waited to take my picture. As soon as he moved Vern recognized him as a Pilgrim who was at the Cathedral in Le Puy. We had the Pilgrim blessing on the same day, April 19th. Dominic from Switzerland started walking on the 19th and we started on the 20th.. This is the first time we have seen him since that day!

Pictured: The entrance to Navarrenx.

Pictured: Vern and Dominic.

Today we saw our second Pilgrim pulling a cart! His wife close behind, explaining how hard it is on his back to carry the backpack. He was moving quickly.

Pictured: Pilgrim with cart.

Arthez-de-Bearn to Navarrenx

Day Thirty Eight. 18.7 Miles, 30.1 Kilometers.

Written on May 27, 2012.

We stayed at a Chambre d’hôtes, (bed and breakfast), 2 kilometers from Arthez-de-Bearn. Irene and Edward have created a wonderful atmosphere for Pilgrims. The food is nutritious and the room is restful. They both were up at 6:30 a.m. Our breakfast was ready and we left before 7:30 a.m.

Pictured: A cow peeking at me.

Today I saw a young boy driving a tractor while his father was in the bucket throwing tires on a large piece of plastic. The boy seemed like a great driver.

Pictured: Boy in tractor.

We stopped at the church in La Sauvelade today on our way through. Just as I was ready to leave two young men walked in and started singing a song in French. It was wonderful and I stayed until they sang the last note.

Pictured: A statue of St. James with many notes, prayers, and blessings.

 

Arzacq-Arraziguet to Arthez-de-Bearn

Day Thirty Seven. 19.3 Miles, 31.2 Kilometers.

Written on May 26, 2012.

Our backpacks were packed and with our clothes in hand we quietly made our way out of the Gite, (dormitory). We went downstairs and walked into the Pilgrim lounge…always open. We grabbed our liquid yogurt and drank it while we were putting clothes and shoes on. Pierre looked in and waved on his way out to the Chemin…it was 6:10 a.m. Rhonda from Australia left at the same time as us and we were off. Today was a lot of fun. It was a lot of miles to walk but we are in an interesting Department, (County). All of the departments have their own terrain, style and “feel”. This department seems to have dedicated itself to catering to the pilgrim with benches, tables, picnic areas and a zen garden. We had walked for a few hours when Vern started talking about how he would love a cup of coffee. This is a daily ritual..he talks about a cup of coffee and looks most of the day for it. Today he talked about it and within a mile he had it. It was in the yard of a local resident who seemed to enjoy creating a shady spot with coffee, tea, and homemade cake for the Pilgrims. We enjoyed it and stayed for awhile. He had a large guest book and loved to see where people are from. I signed it and read the comment before mine it was written by Joseph from Austria and he had put his facebook name in the book.

Pictured: Vern at the Pilgrim Rest.

We probably only walked another 1/2 mile when quite a way down the road we saw something in the road. As we got closer I told Vern that it looks like a backpack, then I realized that there was a pilgrim attached to it. Oh my gosh! There is a pilgrim laying in the middle of the road! Just at that moment a women in a small van came by I put out my sticks and pointed to the pilgrim. She rolled down her window. I explained to her in French that I understand a little French and that I did not know what was wrong with the pilgrim. As she drove up to him he popped up and she started talking to him. When we got there he told us that he slept in a tent the night before and didn’t get any sleep. He was exhausted. We suggested that he sleep on the grass next to the road. We introduced ourselves and asked his name. He said Joseph from Austria! We are glad that he is ok.

Pictured: Joseph from Austria.

We had walked 10 miles by the time we came to another rest stop. We recognized our roommates from the night before. As I looked around I realized that we were in a Zen Garden.

Yes, today has been wonderful and interesting.

Pictured: A few items in the Zen Garden.

 

Miramont-Sensacq to Arzacq-Arraziguet

Day Thirty Six. 9.6 Miles, 15.5 Kilometers.

Written on May 25, 2012.

Pictured: Inside Eglise de Sensacq.

This morning I grabbed my sleeping bag and my nighttime items and quietly left the room. There were three bunkbeds and each bed was full. I slept good. We had a quick breakfast then it was time to leave.

After three miles of walking we came to the Eglise de Sensacq. It was simple and beautiful. In our book we read that once again the old GR 65 has been changed to a new direction. We chose the old GR 65 and enjoyed our walk. We met up with Pilgrims who we first met in Montreal du Gers.

Pictured: A fence made out of skis and snowboards.

After leaving the Eglise we walked by the pictured fence. I love the creativity.

Aire-sur-l’Adour to Miramont-Sensacq

Day Thirty Five. 12.1 Miles, 19.5 Kilometers.

Written on May 25, 2012.

The information is spreading: no services available for at least 12 miles. Pilgrims are leaving Gites, Hotels and Chambre d’Hotes and going to the market. Vern is carrying lunch and snacks for us so we are all set. It is already warm. We stop to take off some clothing. We are waving and wishing Buon Route, Buon Chemin to everyone we see. We walk past what seems to be a regional park with a beautiful lake.

Pictured: Lake on the way to Miramont-Sensacq.

Several people are fishing. Shade is becoming less and less. After two hours of walking we find shade and take a break. We soon see a pilgrim and his friend who we saw yesterday. One of them is pulling a cart that is attached to him.

Pictured: A creative Pilgrim.

The farm land is vast and we walk in the sun for hours today. Every spot of shade is occupied by more and more pilgrims. It is time to be conscious of heat exhaustion and what to do to prevent the possibility. We take a break close to Miramont-Sensacq and meet Rhonda from Australia. The last mile seems to be uphill. Many people we saw along the way are staying here tonight.

Nogaro to Aire-sur-l’Adour

Day Thirty Four. 22.1 Miles, 35.5 Kilometers.

We wanted to leave at 6:00 a.m. this morning. We thought we were walking 17 miles today. The Madame of the Gite was already up. She had prepared the table the evening before but decided to get up and visit with us.

Pictured: Jocelyne Martin of Gite La Halte du Passant and Vern.

We started the walk to Aire sur l’Adour. I am grateful for the dry day…just some mud but pretty good walking conditions. Daniel, Philippe and Monique passed us. I was able to get a picture of them…you have to be quick or they are gone.

Pictured: A way marker on the way into Aire-sur-l’Adour.

When we arrived we stopped at the post office and picked up a package of supplements.

Before we left home in April we had arranged for our U.S. Primary election ballots to be mailed to this location. We also picked up the ballots, filled them out, and mailed them back.

Earlier in the day we had arranged to meet with John Tucker from Canada and have dinner. We chose a restaurant that serves pizza and went inside. At that moment two women that we have seen for days walked in. We invited them to join us. Soon another Pilgrim, and then another. The manager of the restaurant allowed us to keep adding more people. When we were almost finished with our meal Carmen and “crew” walked in.

Pictured: Anita, Jean, Luis, and Carmen.

We first met the four Pilgrims walking out of Figeac and have enjoyed seeing them every few days since then.

La Hargue to Nogaro

Day Thirty Three. 9.3 Miles, 15 Kilometers.

Written on May 22, 2012

Today’s plan is to walk to Nogaro. 10.5 miles. Wow…short day! We will keep walking with few breaks so that we can enjoy a short day and explore the town of Nogaro. One of the first groups of Pilgrims we see is a very friendly woman taking pictures..her companions are two men. The two men walk rapidly together. Philippe is guided through mud, rocks, and creeks. I came to realize that Philippe is severly visually impaired. He has one walking stick and a very rapid pace. I am inspired and filled with a sense of all of the possibilities on the Camino. Every possible scenario is just waiting to be experienced. While the woman was taking pictures of cows I motioned to her that I would take a picture of her in front of the cows. Later in the day she took a picture of us and I took a picture of them.

Pictured: Monique, Philippe, Daniel.

Pictured: Nancy and Vern.

No ponchos today so the mud will be more manageable tomorrow. We were early into Nogaro. Our Gite opened at 3:30 p.m. We went to a cafe with wifi, had coffee and salad. A couple heard us speak English and told us that they were from British Columbia driving through France. It was good to meet them and we told them about our blog. Then as I turned around to say goodbye I noticed that Monique, Philippe, and Daniel were seated close by. They asked in French if we are staying at the same Gite and we said yes. I love the connections that are made with people. Sometimes the more of a struggle to find the words of another’s language the deeper the connection. A true effort is being made to create a connection.