Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourself before God, to seek from Him a safe journey for ourself, our children and all our goods.
Day One 4.6 Total Miles—St. Jean Pied de Port France to Orisson France. Our walk began at 7:15 in the morning. The sun was shining and many pilgrims were starting their walks. We were fortunate to have stayed at a hostel whose owner, Kathy, was very nice. Kathy speaks French and we speak English so there weren’t any in depth conversations but we were able to communicate. Kathy offered to take our picture as we prepared to depart. She sent us off with a wave and a smile. Cross #2 was left on a pillow for her to find after we left.
The walk out of the medieval town of St Jean, starts on the Rue de la Citadelle which is the street leading from the fortress to the main gate of the city. We simply walked out the door of our hostel onto the Rue de la Citadelle. The street is paved with very old cobble stones that make for a very noisy walk if ones trekking poles do not have the rubber caps on the ends.
It was a quiet walk out of the medieval main gate. Our walk/pilgrimage had begun with an immediate climb in elevation which lasted until our next planned stop. We passed pilgrims and other pilgrims passed us on our climb. St Jean Pied de Port is at 682 feet above sea level. Our next stop at the Orisson hostel was at 2600 feet. The views were breathtaking. The pictures do not do them justice. Our walk took 2.5 hours to go 4.59 miles to Orisson.
The people we met on The Way were from France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, England, Ireland, Texas, Washington, Canada, Brazil, Italy and Japan. Seventy-five year old Gary from Port Angeles, Washington asked us if we were from Idaho. He had noticed the Boise State emblems on our hats. This was his fourth Camino walk. His neighbors Terry and Kim were walking with him as well as his good friend, Calvin from Minnesota. Yukiko from Japan sat with us at lunch. She was walking alone and nervous. We probably reminded her of her grandparents….old and safe.
A communal dinner was served to the 45 people who had booked beds for the night at the hostel. It was an unbelievably good Basque meal which consisted of soup, noodles and very tender meat in a broth. We will be walking through Basque country for the next 2 weeks so there will be more Basque meals in our future.
After dinner, the owner requested that everyone stand and tell their name, where they were from and why they were walking the Camino. The reasons ranged from not knowing why, honoring the passing of a loved one, desire to spend time with loved ones on the Camino, etc. I was the only one that stated the walk was a Christian Pilgrimage which brings us to cross #3.
Sharon from Oregon was given cross #3. She is a Christian and told us she was glad to see that someone is still walking the Camino as a Christian Pilgrimage.
Day Two 13.74 Total Miles—Orisson France to Burguete Spain—The day began at 8am. Let’s just say that walking over the Pyrenees mountains is not for the faint of heart. The uphill climb never ends and when it does you learn the downhill walk is nearly as bad! We walked from 682 feet above sea level to 4700 feet in two days. The climb today was 2100 feet in four hours. Civilization is never far away though. We walked around a curve close to the top of the mountain and there sits a food truck! The hard boiled eggs and bananas that we bought were delicious.
After stopping to enjoy a little of civilization, we left the road and started up a dirt path. An old stone cross marks the point at which pilgrims are to leave the road. It is surrounded by a short fence. Cross #4 was left tied to the fence.
After crossing the Pyrenees mountains, we walked through Roncevalles, Spain. A medieval convent that dates back to the 1200’s is located in the town. It is now used as a large hostel. Our final stop for the night was at the next village Burguete, Spain. Ernest Hemingway may have written“For Whom the Bell Tolls” while staying in the town as it takes place in Basque country.
The town was deserted as it was 2:00 pm and it is siesta time. Lodging needed to be found for the night. We finally found a woman setting a small table outside for her lunch. We said, “ Donde esta” and pointed to the name of the hostel Txikipolit. She was the only person we had found and she was the owner of the hostel! Our lodging had been found for the night but it was a bed and breakfast not a hostel. God had provided for us again.
The journey continues in the morning with the next update and pictures when there is WiFi. Buen Camino, Sharon and Ron