Thursday, November 5, 2009

St Jean Pied de Port-Dentist-Cruceiro

View of the Pilgrim bridge over the river Nive SJPP 06.4.09

Though we couldn't start out until Frances had her tooth fixed I thought I would get up very early and walk the first part of the route and maybe give the Irish lads a send off-it was still dark but there were one or two pilgrims heading up the RN. The sound of boots and sticks on the road and morning coughs is going to become very familiar. I bet they wondered what I was doing walking along without a pack. Got up as far as Hunto and turned to stroll back. Beautiful walk back down with the sun rising. SJPP itself obscured by mist but blue sky and sun above that. Picked some hedgerow grasses to add to my camino bouquet (initially comprised of the 'palm'/yew handed out at mass in Dublin airport yesterday).
Met Laura, Madge, Pat and the other Irish pilgrims on their way out and wished them bonne route -but was a bad pilgrim & felt envious of their early start and glorious weather. FInding myself walking into the departing pilgrims- thought it must be quite strange to do the turnaround at Santiago and walk back against the pilgrim tide?
It was only on the way back over the bridge that I notice a statue of the Virgin and child, arms raised in blessing, on the archway that leads out of town. They witness the start of everyones journey but I wonder how many pilgrims, excited and maybe a little apprehensive at the climb ahead, miss that gentle benediction by not looking back- I know I would have. So I must make a note to stop and 're-view' the places we walk through.

We do a bit of sightseeing and get to a great food market buy local saucisson sec and fruit for rations. Frances sees a charming and excellent dentist who basically puts nail varnish on her tooth-it works like a charm.

Frances at Porte Saint Jacques 06.04.09

and Nell

At the market penned lambs bleat and baaaa- they sound as nervous as we feel- In fact I think I hear them saying 'go baaaack baaack', now I'd like to bleat as well but Frances has been so bloody stoical about her tooth ache I have no option but to pull myself together and KBO. SJPP 06.04.09
Lambs at the market in SJPP

Headed out before lunch as aiming to get up to the Cruceiro by about 5ish and have organised a taxi to pick us up and bring us back to stay another night in SJPP. We will use the same taxi to ferry us up the Cruceiro tomorrow morning and walk to Roncevalles.
A good bit beyond Orisson come across is a simple wooden memorial cross on the roadside marking the spot where a young pilgrim died in February, and we wonder what happened to him and what his journey was? I'll light a candle for him, and for others lost on the way, when we get to Roncevalles.
Wooly ponies and soaring eagles watch our progress-they must witness thousands of pilgrimages every year. I wonder do they think we're like the migratory birds that also use this route all
driven by some instinctive urge to go on pilgrimage? Unlike the birds at least pilgrims don't have to dodge hunters shots.The route is punctuated by their concrete U-shaped shooting posts. I wonder how on earth they retrieve their kill as many of the posts are on the edge of precipices? You'd want a hell of a good dog working with you!

In the Pyrenees "the only way is up"
Its straight in at the deep end here there's no messing about getting you 'acclimatised'. It's just a matter of 'following the tar' and keep going UP. Getting cloudy but the breeze is welcome on that haul. Because we are only going as far as the Cruceiro today we haven't got our 'full' packs on and it's good to get a chance to 'warm up' this way-so Frances' toothache is a blessing in disguise (thus says pilgrim Pollyanna) Tomorrow however we will be carrying a 'tad' more weight.

Frances looks quite the part and is no longer grimacing with toothache- that's a real smile. We are both feeling a bit euphoric and mountain 'giddy'

On some of the grassy areas there is a mole hill every 20-30cm- its incredible-with a population like that underground it must be like living in Hong Kong...and we thought we were alone! Anyway decide to take a leaf out their book and we'll try to "Make molehills out of a mountains" one of our Camino slogans.

Vierge du Orisson
Vierge du Orisson. Bit of an Amy Winehouse vibe going on with her mascara which had obviously been retouched recently with a loving, if slightly heavy, hand. The virgin is gaudy with ribbons, rosaries and conchas . As our offering we tied on the red ribbons I'd brought back from Santiago last year-I hope its enough to get the Virgin 'on side' for our pilgrimage. Her tatty splendour reminded me of the fairy thorns and rag trees of home and also to be honest a feeling of covert supplication.
Gaudy days
Reaching the Cruceiro is really exciting and I do feel a bit like a pilgrim now-Though thinking about Laura, Madge and the lads arriving into Roncevalles having 'done it' also feel a competitive surge to 'push on' and catch up with them - which is utterly daft-anyway its far too late. Actually seeing where we have to go tomorrow makes the route seem somehow a little less intimidating.I wouldn't say we're confident but we're not quite as nervy now.

Weather getting more overcast and wind building up-sign of things to come?
Site of our first al fresco meal-gone in seconds!

Walked down to meet the taxi (we have allowed ourselves mobile access in the mountains) and the driver tells us that there is bad weather coming in. We saw 2 pilgrims heading up towards the Cruceiro and wondered if they would be ok setting off so late. Stop in at Orisson to ask Jean-Jacques about the weather tomorrow and he says he thinks it will be 'passable' so I feel a bit more optimistic about being able to complete the route Napoleon (maybe even 'gung ho'?). Frances is like a wise old owl 'withholding judgment' for the moment.
That night Mary, Frances' older sister, texted enquiring about the weather and a sleepy Frances, using predictive text, instead of the intended 'rain forecast' replied 'PAIN FORECAST' (but she may be right!)


Jules said...

We did a week on the Camino last year - SJPP to Logrono - and are carrying on with another two weeks very soon (with a final two weeks scheduled for next year to finish).

Good to read your account - I'm looking forward to reading about the whole trip.

Last year we did SJPP to Roncesvalle on the first day, on what became known to starters on that weekend as "foggy Sunday". All that way up and over the Pyrenees, and we didn't see a single view!

Nell Pilgrim said...

Glad it was helpful Jules- Bonne route Nell