On day five of the Camino I was very tired. One toe or another hurt, the bottom of my right foot killed me, sometimes my left or right knee was in pain. After three or four hours, despite being in beautiful country, I was tired and bored and dreading the next four hours so I started to sing. There was no one around and maybe I kept a boar or two away. I went through all of the songs I could think of from the rock and roll days: Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, etc. When I ran out of songs, I turned to Broadway plays. I’ve always loved a good musical and I’ve retained many songs in my memory bank. I sang from The Sound of Music-The hills are alive with the sound of music-then My Fair Lady-All I want is a room somewhere-Hello Dolly-Well, well, hello Dolly. It probably kept me going for a couple of hours. Then I played the music on my iPhone. The last hour it was just me though, trudging on, sometimes with Maurice to keep me going.
The last two days of our walk we were nearing Spain, Pays Basque country, where most of the buildings are white with the reddish trim like this one. I developed an infection in my big toe. I was told at one gite by the owner that I should have gotten shoes one size larger. I wish I known this before I started the walk but I did carry on through five days. I finally decided to skip the sixth day which was to be the longest and Maurice told me at the end of it that it was a good thing I didn’t go, that he had a hard time finishing it himself. By the end of that day I also began a sort of flu-y illness with fever, chills and aching so I was glad not to be out trying to go up and down hills but still disappointed. The spirit was willing but the feet were weak. I hitched a ride with the very nice man who took the luggage to the next stop. I didn’t feel like eating dinner that night either and was disappointed when Maurice told me I missed the male owner singing. The men in Pays Basque are known for their singing. The next day one of the hikers told me he sang like a chicken so maybe I was lucky. The next day was our last one when we were both supposed to walk into the ancient city of St Jean Pied de Port, the last stop before entering into Spain. I was so disappointed that I would not be entering as millions of pilgrims had done for centuries but the nice driver was there again and besides going off on to little roads to see if we could see Maurice which we didn’t, we went through the main gate entering the city via a little road.
Here it is. Not that beautiful but pickled in history as they say.
The cobbled street heading down. You can see the hills in the background where the next walk will go though.
Another gate in the wall.
One of the ancient doors that lined the street as it went down a steep hill. We also passed the office where documents were stamped showing you had arrived. You could get them stamped at each gite. We never got one as we didn’t start in the city that had them.
Here is one of the documents getting stamped. Each place has its own personal stamp as you can see.
Many of the doors had carvings up above giving information about their history. I thought this was one of the better ones.
This looks staged but I saw the bag, shoes and walking stick just resting there after, I assume, a long walk. There were several places set up like dorms with group sleeping arrangements and inexpensive meals for students and the like. We stayed in a hotel the last night with a/c and no surprises. Anyway, I thought this photo just about said it all about ending the walk.
We took a taxi back to the city we started in and picked up our car feeling strange to be in traffic again like we had been in a different country. It was really an experience, maybe not spiritual for us, but a look at France from the angle of a walker among cows and sheep, forest, mountains, hills and fields and occasionally other hikers. I won’t be doing it again on another part of the Camino but Maurice is already planning to do so.
Amount traveled by foot:
Barcelonne du Gers to Miramont: 23 km
Miramont to Sensacq a Larreule: 23 km
Larreule to Maslacq: 26.5 km
Maslacq to Navarrenx: 22 km
Mavarrenc to Aroue: 18 km
Aroue to Ostabat: 25 km
Ostabat to Saint Jean Pied de Port 22.5,km
Which is almost 100 miles!