Saturday, 14 September 2013

Two little stars

There were two newcomers in the dormitory-Paul from London and a lady from Vancouver.As agreed Hubert and I were up at 5.30.  Danielle (the lady who runs the Gite) was in her office. She sat with us during breakfast. She said that it would be hotter in Spain. Hubert had arranged with her to give us a baguette for our lunch. When we were ready to go she hugged us both, and, wandering down the deserted street I saw that she was standing at the door. I gave a wave and we were gone. As we crossed the River Nive the clock in the tower said 6.10.
Once we were out of the street lighting it was totally dark. Herbert had a miner's lamp to light our way. I looked up into the sky and it was full of stars. It is Saint Jacques calling us said Hubert. The fact that the stars were visible was a good sign. A number of people had crossed the mountains yesterday and said that it was very misty. As the light increased I commented to Hubert that there were only two stars still visible. You and I he said, two tiny stars! An Owl was calling and I was reminded of the night at Conques when I had felt so disheartened.
It was clear that the weather was putting on a special show for this one of the most significant moments in the pilgrimage. What clouds there were sat in the valleys. Around 7.30 the sun rose over the mountains. I was speechless at the sheer majesty of God's creation. On a pilgrimage there may be discomforts but the are compensated for with overwhelming blessings. Hubert said it reminded him of Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration.
We had a break after 2 hours. We had hardly started again when we passed the final Albergue. There were two people on the road in front of us. One of them had a New Zealand flag on their rucksack. I asked them if they were from New Zealand. They answered yes. They were called Paul and Josephine. Within minutes Paul engaged me in a searching conversation as he is thinking of training to be an Anglican priest. I noticed that Josephine and Hubert were singing!  A little later I drew their attention to an eagle. After about 20 minutes Paul from London turned up. I engaged him in conversation and the New Zealand Paul dropped back. We possibly won't meet again. That is so typical of the Camino. By now we were catching up with those who had left from the Gites beyond St Jean. We passed a flock of vultures and Hubert told me that he had told a woman that vultures find women sweeter than men. Two thirds of the way up a young man had a van selling all sorts of goodies. I bought coffee and boiled eggs for lunch.
The glorious mountain scenery and the exceptional day spurred us on. I said to Hubert that we were blessed with the weather. After a leisurely lunch we reached the col at 12. The books warn against the direct descent to Roncesvalles but I found it no more difficult than the descent to Conques if a little longer. Roncesvalles means Valley of the thorns and is where Charlamagne's,  army was routed giving rise to the Song of Roland. In fact the upper valley is a beech forest which will be a riot of colour in a couple of weeks time. It was much hotter when I reached the Abbey. Unfortunately there were weddings taking place and so I only had a fleeting view of the Abbey. I had my creencial stamped and went to wait for Hubert. Surprisingly he didn't want his stamped. We had been warned against staying in the Abbey and so had 2km to our lodgings. When I arrived at mine the owner said I wasn't booked. In fact she had murdered my name but had my mobile number.
For the first time in two weeks I have a room to myself, a real bed and towels. Communal living is an essential part of the pilgrimage but it is nice to have space something. I asked her about wifi and she said that there is a bar down the road. She kindly phoned and booked my accommodation for Monday and Tuesday.
I wandered down to a typical Spanish bar, asked about wifi, ordered a glass of Crianza and settled down to write. Nobody bothered me. It is funny to be in Spain. 

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