Basque Country

Saturday, October 10 – Day 32

I slept very well. I did a pretty good job making up for last night. I had breakfast at 7:30 and was out the door by 8, into a very cold morning. I have definitely changed my mind about sending that second shirt home. My weather app said it was 46 degrees, but I think it was colder. I could almost see my breath! I also kept my jacket on for almost two hours, which breaks the record by almost two hours. It was another beautiful, mostly sunny day. The app still says rain on Monday and Tuesday, which are the days I’m crossing the pyrenees, but I’m still hoping that could change!

The weather here is interesting. I don’t know if it’s just the time of year, but it gets so cold at night and so hot during the day. I think there was almost a 40 degree swing today.

More cornfields, more cows, sheep, and definitely more hills.

For most of the morning I was by myself, thinking about my trip so far and my last few days in France. It’s so crazy that tomorrow I will be in St. Jean and starting a new leg of this journey. I’m excited about it, and thankfully my feet are doing so much better. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my feet! They still hurt, of course, but they are doing better. I even had some moments where I forgot about them completely.

The nice thing about climbing up the hills here, when you get to the top, you’re usually rewarded with an amazing view.

At the top of this hill I decided to try to call Orisson. The website said to call after 9 am to speak English, and the guy had said last week to call two days in advance. When I called today, the man said to call back after noon to speak to someone in English. Oh well.

It was back down the hill, and this time I ran into some sheep. Have you ever heard the sound of a hundred sheep grazing?

I came to a village that had a chapelle a short way off the path. I decided to go check it out, and ran into everyone who was ahead of me this morning. The chapelle was locked, but a couple ran into a woman in the village who came with a key to open it. It was a beautiful building and they had a stamp for my credential!

I ended up walking with Alex from New Zealand. I had run into him the first time just going into, I think it might have been Manciet, but I don’t remember. He’s here in Europe for 2 years on a work visa. He’s spending one year in France and one year in England. His pace is a little slower than mine, even now that I’m slower, but I figured it would be nice for a while.

This was hilarious. Suddenly, a flock of sheep started flocking toward us like a school of fish. It was the craziest thing. I think they thought we were the farmer coming to take them home. They stood by the gate and looked at us very expectantly. I took a bit of video.

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Neither of us had food, so we were worried about finding some place to eat. We came to a little village and there was a woman with a food truck. We were at her mercy, though. We paid 6.50 for a plate of lettuce and two pieces of bacon and an egg. She didn’t have any bread, so sandwiches weren’t an option. It was still good to get some food, though. We probably spent an an hour there, which is longer than I’ve stopped anywhere except for getting real food. There were some other people stopped at a well. I talked with Frank for a while. I met him walking out of Arthez-de-Bearn. He’s also quit his job and trying to figure out what he wants in life. It seems to be a very common theme among the younger camino members. Frank mentioned that he wanted to stay at Orisson, which reminded me to call. So Frank called for both of us, but he said they said to call the morning of and reconfirm. It sounds very fishy to me. He said they didn’t seem to care much about taking a reservation. Frank is planning on walking all the way there tomorrow. I thought about it, but I want to spend some extra time in St. Jean, and I need to do some shopping. Unfortunately I will be there on Sunday and Monday morning, so I don’t know how much shopping I’ll actually be able to do.

I continued to walk with Alex a bit more, until we came to a place Hiriburia, which had someone called the Stèle of Gibraltar. It’s marked in my book, but I had no idea what it was. We passed it, and when I realized it, I left to go back and see what it was, and Alex continued.

So I found it, and it’s a stone thing in the ground. There was a guy parked in a car talking on his cell phone right in front of it, so I couldn’t get a very good angle for taking pictures. I didn’t know what it was, but it turns out it’s the meeting point for 3 caminos. The Vezelay, the Le Puy, and the Tours (from France). Kind of cool. Except it’s not exactly the exact meeting point, because I had to go off path a few meters to find it.

Then there was a huge climb up the side of a very big hill. At the top was a little chapelle thing, some benches, and a very, very nice view! We had great weather for it! Pretty amazing. It blows my mind sometimes that I’m actually here. I’m in France, and I’ve walked to the Pyrenees, and I’m going to walk over the Pyrenees. I’m so grateful to be here and to be having this experience.

Then it was down the hill to finish up the last hour or so.

When I got into Ostabat, I did find a little store and was able to buy a new bar of soap, which I desperately needed, and some bread and cheese for tomorrow. I don’t know if you’ve noticed from the pictures, but apparently there’s only one proper color in Basque country. Probably 90% or more of the houses are white with red trim. And some of the houses have a very Alpine feel to them, like I’m in the Alps or something (which I suppose is the very definition of Alpine).

Then it was only 1k to my next stop. When I got there, there was a moment of panic when the lady said she didn’t have my name down and my reservation must not have been for today. I told her it was for a private room and she’d said 55 E on the phone. She went inside to check her book again, and I have no idea if I was actually in the book or not or if she happened to still have that room open. I don’t really care. I’m just glad I have my own room tonight! I was more worried that she would have only had room for me in the gîte, which with the amount of people could have been disastrous. And it would have been, because snoring lady is here!

She does have wifi, but apparently it isn’t working. I am going to be 4 days behind.

Dinner was fun. The host is Basque, so there was Basque singing and other singing. It was far too much and too long, but it was still an experience. I got some video of it.

The first course was a noodle soup of some kind, then a huge omlette, then some kind of veal and potato hash, then cheese and basque cake. Quite a lot of food. It was all pretty good. I sat with Alex and Elizabeth at dinner. Elizabeth is German.
My room is is a separate building from the gîte, so I had to walk outside to get back, and oh my stars. I wish I had more time to just look at the stars. You look up and think there’s a line of clouds going across the sky, but no, that’s the Milky Way. We don’t see that very often in Ohio. There are so many stars here it’s hard to pick out the constellations.

The hostess is doing something kind of different. She took all of our credentials as ransom, and we get them back tomorrow when we pay.

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3 Comments

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  1. Loved it all! The Stèle of Gibraltar was neat, especially also seeing how the caminos came together on the map.

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  2. Gorgeous country! As I write this I hope you are sleeping soundly in Orisson. Good luck!

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  3. I am glad your feet are doing better. I can’t believe she held your credentials hostage! I guess that’s one way to make sure you get paid. LOL!

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