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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: May 21, 2019
Date: Sun, Jun 23rd, 2019
Daily Distance: 27.5
Trip Distance: 735.0
Entry Visits: 45
Journal Visits: 3,262
Guestbook Views: 66
Guestbook Entrys: 3
I'm Not a Basque Sheep Herder
I didn't keep up my pace today as I had intended to as I had more conversations along the way than has been typical. The downside was that it was hotter out by the time I got to our lodgings at, perhaps, 3 or 3:30. But a good day overall, both for meeting and talking with people, and for views. Plus I at one point became an inadvertent and temporary sheep herder. In Basque country now, but I deny being a Basque sheep herder. Well, they were certainly Basque sheep, but I digress.
The day started with the taxi picking us up and depositing me back in the hamlet of Aroue where I finished my walk yesterday. Ann asked that he take her farther along so that she could walk, but not as far, which had the added benefit that she finished before it got quite so hot. And she still had some great views, so a good choice overall for her.
For my part, I met and briefly had a friendly talk with a German couple that I had met yesterday. Later I caught up to and walked with a nice French guy for a while; he was quite patient with my French so I spoke more French than usual today. He and I caught up in turn with a French couple that are staying at the same hotel as we are tonight (Hotel Espellet in Larceveau), so maybe we'll see them at dinner or breakfast. And then I walked and talked for a while with John and Annie from Australia.
The high point today, both literally and figuratively, was climbing up to the Chapelle de Soyarza. Like a lot of this afternoon's hiking, the climb up was exposed to the sun with no shade, but there were shade trees and a couple of benches near the chapel on top, in the shade of a few trees. AND there was a water spigot, which was very much appreciated.
When I got there it was already inhabited by various pilgrims, and more showed up while I ate my lunch there. A French woman who I have been briefly seeing almost every day invited me to share her bench and we had some friendly conversation. She's hiked quite a few pilgrim routes, mostly in France, but others too, and like others I've met (not many others) she started this trip in Geneva. Today was, I think, her 51st day of hiking, and like me, she's finished tomorrow. Then we discovered that her German was better than her English, so we switched to that to communicate.
A bit farther on I met a couple of German women from Nuremberg taking shelter in the shade adjacent to a church that was closed. Then when I got to Ostabat I went briefly uphill off trail to look at their church, and discovered nearby Scott and Svea talking to the English fellow (John) who I had walked with yesterday, and who reported having walked with Ann some today. So quite a bit more conversation today than has been typical for this trip.
Now as to the sheep. Shortly before climbing up to the town of Ostabat, near the end of the day, I had descended to walk through just a small collection of houses and farm building and found a flock of sheep essentially blocking the road. No people about. The sheep seemed mildly alarmed by me, as did a couple of dogs who were fortunately behind fences. But as I walked, the sheep moved forward in front of me, a few trailing behind as I went but the bulk of the flock staying ahead of me. Finally they turned off on a gravel road to the left as I started to climb the paved road, so I don't think that I moved them too far away, nor for that matter to anywhere that they couldn't have just wandered to on their own. Somewhat entertaining, however, except of course for wanting to watch my step amongst the various, shall we say, trail offerings that some of them deposited along the road surface.
I was very glad to get to our hotel; no air conditioning but it's pretty cool inside. And we have a sort of balcony where our clothing can dry quickly in the sun. Unfortunately our room is set up as being connected by a locked door to another room, and after a while I French couple moved in and we hear their conversation as if we're sitting side-by-side. And of course I presume that they hear us the same way. Based on a long phone conversation one of them is having, I'm pretty sure that they're pilgrims too (hey, I'm really not *trying* to eavesdrop!). So maybe they won't be staying up super late. We'll see! For all I know it's Jean and Marise that I met on the trail today. The pilgrim's world is, or at least IMO should be, a friendly one.
Gadget's Trail Journal
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.
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