Yesterday in pouring rain we reached Arthez de Bearne. We stayed in the Gite communal. There was no food but we ordered pizzas. Over the table we shared with a young frenchman who had set off from Geneva. There was also a french couple who were heading for St Jacques. We agreed a 6.15 rise. Raphael bought coffee from the machine and, on a misty morning the 3 musketeers set off again. I reflected that it was exactly 8 days since we had first set off together from Saint Antoine. There was a magical moment. We emerged from the mist and were treated to the most spectacular sunrise with reds, oranges and blues. At one point a Pyrenean peak showed its face and then two or three more. And then we dropped back into the mist. I reflected on the wonderful sentence from the Cloud: 'Strike the dark cloud of unknowing with the sharp dart of longing love and on no account think of giving up' How true for the pilgrimage.
I was to learn today that Hubert is a natural hunter gatherer. He cut down some delicious figs.As I was eating mine he turned to Raphael and said. Look Gerard is eating the forbidden fruit.
Raphael soon went on ahead. It is great walking with Hubert as he is very patient about my french. He shared two deeply personal aspects of his pilgrimage. It is a pilgrimage of gratitude for all the blessings of my life especially my grandchildren. He then said that at the ocean he would collect two shells. I will ask my wife to put one of them in my coffin when I die. He thenquickly added but not for a long time.
The second magical moment occurred just after 10. We had been climbing steadily through a wood. We hardly noticed that the mist had lifted. We emerged from the woods and turned a corner round a field of maize and, there they were, the majestic Pyrenees. It has been a long 25 days on the road and it will be 3 more before we reach St Jean but it was a wonderful reward.
Photos - Abbey of the Sauvelarde de Bearne, Hubert, and I