Friday, 13 September 2013

The second Sabbath.

The Gite at Ostabat is a health and safety nightmare!  It is made completely of wood with only one staircase. Nevertheless it was comfortable and clean. Raphael and I went to the only bar where we were soon joined by Achmed and the two frenchmen. About 5.30 I went to the church but the sacristy was firmly closed. I returned to the Gite since the owner had said that he would be back at 6 to stamp out creencial and take the fee. As we sat waiting a large raptor swooped across the field in front of us . The owner-a tranquil man in his 50s-came with two bottles for an aperitif. He returned later with a rather impressive stamp . Isabel commented that the creencial is precious. Each stamp tells its own story.
About 30 of us descended on the only eating place in the town. The owner was a caricature of a frenchman with his berret and his moustache . I reflected on two facts-Raphael and I were the only two non French, and I knew more than half of those present It was a delicious meal-home made vegetable soup, pork with green beans and pasta, dressed lettuce and Brebis cheese. (The latter served entire for us to carve off what we wanted).Achmed was determined that we sing Ultreia which we did at the end of the meal. As I took leave of the others one French lady whom I hadn't seen before said:we have heard about you! The proprietor asked me to pray for him.
Since there was no breakfast we drank a coffee and Raphael and I set off together at 6.45.It was the fourth time that we had done so in 13 days. Pierre and Isabel were not far away and we met again at a bakery. Unlike previous days Raphael preferred to walk with me. I sensed that he was making the most of his last day. He spoke a lot about himself and his family. We passed a village where there was a sign for a café. It was actually a farm and there was fresh cheese, yoghurt, and coffee. No prices and two dogs to welcome us. Around 11 I said to Raphael that I was going to have some bread and cheese.  He stopped and ate as well.
 Entering St Jean Pied du Port was a real culture shock. It was full of tourists and new pilgrims who were conspicuous with their new gear. We stopped for a beer and, almost immediately an English group from Preston came by. They were fascinated by our walk.  One lady asked me whether Raphael was a seminarian. He laughed when I told him this.
During a wander through town we met Patrice. I went into a bookshop opposite our gite to buy a guide for Spain, booked lodgings for Saturday and Sunday, and suggested to Raphael that we take Pierre and Isabel out for a drink. On the way back we met the two frenchmen. The food at supper was excellent but there was no sharing. This is a place where commercialism predominates. Around 8.45 I sought out Raphael. He gave me some spare medication, took my e-mail address, and we said goodbye. He leaves at 5.00am. I had a restless night, heard Raphael leave and settled down to a day of rest. I walked with Pierre and Isabel to the station. After 28 days of walking, on my 30th day I settled down to reflect. 

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