I’d seen the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains for several days now, but after two cloudy day the sun of this day made it seem as though I’d been transported far closer. I’ve heard somewhere that a sunny day after a rainy one is almost always beautiful. I don’t whether it’s actually true, or we are just more aware of the colors caused by the sun after a day filled with gray. Anyhow, this day seemed quite vibrant in my eyes, crossing high points of hills for a view of the beautiful jagged mountains before dropping down, only to rise once again for an ever closer look. To the east the Pyrenees are jagged, to the west–where I’ll walk through–they ease off as they approach the Atlantic. Anyhow, here are some pictures of this beautiful day.
I have nearly forgotten already what the dinner was, though amazing, an appetizer I think with a carrot salad, sweet potato cake, slices of meat, the entree a couple slices of pork, salad, something else I’m forgetting, and a platter of 5 or 6 cheeses they sent around the table before dessert. Dessert was a piece of cake with some ice cream My belief is that if the host gives cheese, the entire dinner is certain to be delicious.
A couple weeks ago now I mentioned how I passed a small village and a farmer and his wife sang the song Ultreïa to me three times. I didn’t know what it meant then, but since I’ve sung it with people a few times, including a mother and her two sons in a communal gite I stayed in Miramont-Sensacq and a christian group the morning of day 28 who invited me to hold hands with them in circle. I now know the word means a kind of travel blessing to someone so that they travel further. Here are the words in French, and the translation someone on the internet did:
Tous les matins nous prenons le Chemin,
tous les matins nous allons plus loin,
jour après jour la route nous appelle,
c’est la voix de Compostelle!
Ultreïa! Ultreïa! Et sus eia!
Deus adjuva nos!
Chemin de terre et Chemin de foi,
voie millénaire de l’Europe,
la voie lactée de Charlemagne,
c’est le Chemin de tous les jacquets!
Et tout là-bas au bout du continent,
Messire Jacques nous attend,
Depuis toujours son sourire fixe
Le soleil qui meurt au Finisterre
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!
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.
I still don’t know where the word Ultreïa came from, it’s certainly not French, but it’s nonetheless a neat little song and I find myself humming it during the day at times.
In Basque Country now, the day was cloudy but the landscapes still incredible as The Way went along ridges, hilltops, looking down into the surrounding valleys and pastures where people both Basque and some French folk make cheese from primarily Bresbis, the French word for sheep. Here are some of the pictures I liked. Somewhere behind the clouds the Pyrenees get closer and closer.
This stone marks the point where three of the French Caminos, the Tours Way, the Vezelay Way, and the Le Puy Way I am on meet together and head the last 25 km to Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port.
One thing I’ve noticed are that the people have certainly changed since coming to this area, a little more aloof and less friendly than the French villagers that are happy to say hello to you as you walk by. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on what I’ve noticed after having been through it a few days at least.
This evening, I stay at a farm where a man sang in the Basque language to everyone before and after dinner while his wife cooked an unbelievable meal comprised of a massive Basque omelette as an appetizer and the main dish, Axoa, a dish made from veal, potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, a red pepper that seems to go into every Basque dish and other spices, probably other things too which I didn’t notice. There was Basque wine and cheese alongside an almond-paste based cake. He sang at least 5 or 6 different songs, including the Ultreïa song above.
Here is a view into the direction I’ll head tomorrow right from the terrace at the gite, the last day until I reach Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port.