Everywhere you turn street signs are written both in French and Basque. The need to affirm identity and language is strong in Spanish Basque lands but also in Aquitaine. I can see how Eleanor of Aquitaine was so powerful because the lands are beautiful and productive.
It usually rains here which is why it's so green. It's also surprising to me that there was nothing but heat and sun the whole time. It made the days long and exhausting.
I'll share a couple tidbits. On the climb up to Col d'Osquich, I gave up. I said there are 4 km left and 600 ft ascent and I just didn't have the stamina. So I said if I stuck out my thumb for three cars and some one stopped, I'd go for a ride.
The first two drove past but the third stopped. It was a humble car. Inside looked like a mess of books and plastic bottles. But he stopped and cleared space for me. I said I only need to go to Col d'Osquich at the top. It was a bar and we drove the 2.5km up those 600 ft. I thanked the friendly and kind Jacier of Pamplona, here for work, and he wouldn't accept a drink or anything for his kindness. I got a nice view, a Perrier, and continued and walked downhill for the last 1.5km.
I was wondering what he saw in my face that the first two didn't. Maybe he saw something pitiful or exhausted. Or maybe that he didn't see something fearful. But I'm thankful that he trusted me. At the end, we smiled the wide grins common humanity and enjoyed our few minutes of conversation , a blend of Spanish, French, and English.
There's a cow picture from yesterday with cows walking down the street. Here's the story. I saw them all walking down a farm driveway thinking " how cute. They are going to a watering hole near the side of this road." I walk on. Soon I heard clipclops and realized they were behind me and catching up. I took a picture and realized they were still coming so I moved as quickly as I could. About a km away they paused. Another cow up the hill had been mooing loudly all that time. I then noticed a farmer behind the herd pushing them along. They turned left to join the cow up the Hill. Soon a dozen cars drove past. Another dozen cars were waiting from my side because , I assume, they're used to this.
All I thought during this was I didn't want my obituary to read "run over by slow moving cows crossing the street"... In French... Honest. No bull.
I skipped dinner last night because I had some leftover pizza. I ate a couple pieces and passed out sleeping basically 9 hours and that's after an hour nap. I've never been this exhausted but nice also never been to boot camp.
Today the hills were stunning but the heat rose rapidly. I was resting often but within 3 hours realized that I was running low on water. There are non public fountains anywhere around here. It's very different from the USA and especially the Camino Frances in Spain.
Resting by a stream, I met 4 French folks from Versailles doing a four day walk. They went on after a nice conversation in French and English. Walking after them I realized we were on the Camino from Paris road! Then I helped some 8 older Germans through a gate. They marched through like, well, Germans through France. Sorry couldn't help myself.
My next stops, even though I was getting closer were getting more frequent and desperate. Nothing was open with water. I ran out of water just 45 minutes away at a church on the outskirts of town. I tried not to panic. I thought that if I really felt dizzy or heat stroke coming, I have the Lourdes water that I can open up. I'm bringing a quart (thus weighing a kilo or 2 pounds ) that I'm hoping to share but I can't do it if I'm not able.
But I made it to gates of Saint Jean Pied-de-Port , up two painful flights to my room, and inhaled over a quart of water in my room sink.
I posted: "I feel like I was crazy in retrospect to add Lourdes to SJPP as part of my walk. There was no water infrastructure like in Spain. They siesta just as much. I'm even more in my fifties and out of shape than when I did part of the Camino a couple years ago.
And yet, and yet.
The call was there to go to a place of healing and to share that with those I meet. And now, with you all joining me on this pilgrimage, I weep thinking that though I don't know why I had to do it, I know God is taking care of me and blessing me. I hope that you feel the healing that is possible when we hold hands together on our journey."
And took a nap and tended my newest blisters. I'll get back to that nap in a moment.
I got my passport stamped. Woohoo!
I went across the street and chatted with the Boutique du Pelerins. I've mentioned them in the past as great folks who, if you come here, will hold any item for you if you ask them and tell them your arrival date. They have excellent items for walking the Camino. She recognized me from a visit last year and gave me this pin which has the Galician Camino mascot for saying such nice things about them.
I walked to the rail station to see where they filmed a scene of The Way with Martin Sheen. Pretty much the same place except the peregrinos are already here.
Then I walked around the village some more. These scenes may remind you of Martin Sheen's stay in SJPP.
I got a picnic lunch and fruit for breakfast. Then ate at a crêperie for dinner, staring out over the bridge I cross tomorrow and was used in the movie. I had to force myself to eat most of it not because I didn't like it but I'm so tired that I'm not hungry. A meal actually makes me feel nauseated right now. I do better with smaller snacks when this hungry. But I forced myself because I had not eaten anything more than a snack all day.
So as I lay here, I realized that my hour nap earlier is keeping me up. When I awoke and read some private messages and some nice comments and prayers, I was touched oh so much. I was actually weeping, which isn't easy when you're dehydrated.
I mention this because I wonder if I'm being emotional because I'm so tired. I hope not. I cry at the drop of a hat at a good movie or book or even song. I hope that I'm in honest relationship with people so that I feel their love, pain, sorrow, grief, and smiles. And they, mine.
And if sunshine and rolling hills presage a tricky day tomorrow (1275m up, or 3900 ft, in the rain, through the Pyrenees pass that caused disaster in The Way) so be it. I've gotten to know folks so much better while on this journey. And they, you, have my back to see me through this steepest challenge of the Camino.
Godspeed and I'll blog you again from Spain.
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