The Way

So, here I am on the Camino de Santiago, two days out from where the trail ends before you enter Spain. It has been extremely hard. Walking six miles a day at home didn’t come close to preparing me for this. Maurice has finished a lot of marathons so, no matter what, he finishes. Me, not so much. On our first day it was in the 90’s and the heat was really getting to me. We got to the last village for the day but had to walk 3 kilometers more to get to our gite (which is a home or farm with rooms to rent). We turned at the sign which said it was 800 meters further on which seemed like miles. Then we got to the farm/gite and it was at the top of a high hill. I started crying, something I seldom do, and Maurice came and took my hand and somehow got me up that hill. The owner told me I should have called, she would have come and got me. They served a huge dinner later and sat at the table while we ate. I found out that all of the gite owners did this. I was so tired that I just wanted to eat and go to bed but  had to sit there politely. They served us a wonferful salad plate and then cassoulet, a heavy dish made with their own ducks. Then fresh strawberries. I was asleep by 9 PM.
This is how a lot of the Camino looked. By the way, we were in the southwest part of France the whole time. Many trails went through thick forests, through small villages here and there, sometimes we were beside a road with occasional traffic. We rarely were beside heavy traffic.

Since it was going to be in the 90’s again we started walking at 6:30 which is how I got this shot of a cow at dawn. There was a calf too but it doesn’t show here.

There were roses blooming in every village and in front of every house. I liked the rustic patina of this house and the climbing pink roses.

I liked the roof of this building made of chisled rocks.

You can see some of the rolling hills that we climbed or went down. Going downhill was the hardest for me. I should have gotten some of those walking poles so many of the hikers use but I didn’t just for one week being cheap.

Cute colt along the way. We didn’t see many horses, mostly cows.

Walking

Maurice and I try to walk just about every day. Here are some things I’ve seen since we got back to our beach place.

I love seeing red poppies in the Spring. I usee to see a lot more in Provence, fields of them, and maybe I will find a field full of poppies (coquelicot in French) here but, in the meantime, one or two brighten my day.

Friday is the big market day in our village. We bought some fish for lunch. I always like looking at all of the varieties and the lovely patterens you see.

Paella to go.

Roasted chicken for sale. I don’t buy it if it’s been sitting as it isn’t juicy enough for me.

 Maurice and I kept seeing hikers here and there in France doing the famous Camino de Santiago, also known as Saint James way. It is the name of pilgrimage routes to the shrine of James, the Apostle in northwestern Spain. Many follow the routes as a form of spiritual growth and the path goes through many towns with churches or cathedrals where pilgrims often spent the night. It is one of the most important Christian pilgrimages done and is now on the UNESCO list as a world heritage site. It is done by the religious or by those who love to hike or just for the challenge. All of this to inform you that Maurice and I are doing a small portion of it, the part seen on the map starting at Air-sur-l’Adour almost all the way to Spain at St-Jean-de-Port. If you have seen the movie, The Way, this is where the journey starts by a father whose son died on The Way.  It’s a pretty good movie and gives you an idea of what it is like. So, we are using a company that will take our suitcase to each stop so we don’t have to carry everything in a backpack. Some of the days will be really long and I hope we are in good enough shape to do it. I guess, if we are near a road or highway we can call for a taxi. We will see. I’m hoping our daily walks will make it easier. I will write about it of course when we return. You can follow me on Instagram at Linda Pennington-Mathieu or on Facebook at Linda Mathieu where it will be mostly in real time.