Monday, 2 September 2013

The three musketeers

The owner of the Gite at Saint Antoine was quite an age! It was a lovely house at the end of a village which had only one street. The room that I was given had five beds. I was soon joined by Raphael from Germany who had walked from Le Puy to Moissac in May in terrible weather and who was now hoping to walk to St Jean. Later Hubert appeared. He is from Aix-Le-Bains on the French/Swiss border and started walking in July. Raphael suggested that we spoke English.
Supper was in the local restaurant-25 of us from the Hostel. The main group were Germans who were doing their pilgrimage with their priest -15 days each year. I sat next to Raphael and opposite Pierre.
As we were preparing for bed Hubert asked me what time I would be up. When I said just before 6 he said- put the light on as I want to start early. And so it was. In the morning Raphael was ready first but waited for the two of us. It was dark when we set off but we enjoyed each others company. It is only the second time in two weeks that I have walked with others. The rythmn is different. This morning we spoke mainly in French. Hubert said that, for French people speaking English is like trying to speak with a hot potato in your mouth! It was a slightly cloudy morning but the Gers is a particularly beautiful part of France. After an hour we came to a village with an impressive Chateau and a ruined Chapel. I went into the Chapel and offered a few prayers. I was waiting for the others when I looked south and there for the first time were the Pyrenees! It was a symbolic moment, very precious for me as the Pyrennes are full of special memories. It will be another ten days or so before we reach them but it is significant moment in the pilgrimage.
I was in Lectoure by 1.00pm and in for a special treat. Some firends of mine who had a daughter at Shaftesbury have bought a property in the Gers and they had arranged to meet me. I met up with them and settled down to a delicious meal. I felt quite guilty when some of my fellow pilgrims passed by. This afternoon it was wonderful to soak in a bath. Tomorrow Condom and the West!

1 comment:

  1. The greeting "Ultreía" I think means "Onward" or perhaps "Onward and Upward". The song itself is easily found on You Tube and it is well worth listening to its haunting tones particularly when sung in French.For those of us who are not multi-lingual here is the English translation.
    Every morning we take the Camino,
    Every morning we go farther,
    Day after day the route calls us,
    It’s the voice of [Santiago de] Compostela!

    Chorus:
    Onward! Onward! And upward!
    God assist us!

    Way of earth and way of faith,
    Ancient road of Europe,
    The Milky Way of Charlemagne,
    It’s the Chemin of all the Santiago pilgrims!

    And over there at the end of the continent,
    Santiago waits for us,
    His smile always fixed
    On the sun that dies at Finisterre.

    Ultreia, Fr Basil

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