The group meal saved yesterday from being pretty awful. There were three folks from Belgium who were very conversant in English. They did have an entertaining debate in French over the best chocolate – Swiss, French or Belgian. I could follow most of it and endorsed the Belgian position. They were down on Stella Artois since it is now owned by some Brazilian brewer.
Since we are in Gascony, a huge salad with plenty of garlic in everything, was the order of the day. Also had chicken instead of duck. Geese are really in trouble in this region. We have also achieved a very minor celebrity status. People want to take pictures of the old Americans with backpacks. Not sure why but we accommodate them. Maybe it is because we just passed the 500 km mark and are more than 2/3rds of the way through France.
When we looked out of our room we could see the Pyrenees. They are covered in snow. We are around 10 more days before crossing them. Should be exciting.
On to an almost perfect day. We left a little after eight. Proceeded down a steep hill and then up one but without mud. The sun was shining and the temperature never got too warm. There was a nice breeze all day. When you say breeze, you mean nice as opposed to wind which is usually bad. Got great pictures of pilgrims and hikers strung out along the road.
Passed by a former Templar Commanderie that is owned by Parisians as a vacation home. Marie, one of our traveling companions recognized the family. I guess not well enough to stop in for cafe. We reached monastery that was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th Century and the chapel has been restored. Must of been a long project.
OK, the lusty part. Everyone remembers the song from Camelot, The Lusty Month of May. With warm weather and sunny skies, the animal world was making hay or offspring. Every bush and tree is full of songbirds. We walked by a large pond or lake with some of the loudest frogs that I have ever heard. Their legs must be the size to fill a French fry pan. We did not see them jumping around in the bright sunshine. Their minds were on other things. Even saw fish being frisky in the shallows. The cows even seemed to be happier.
We were happier as the hiking went smoothly. We still get tired climbing hills and when the magic 20 km mark approaches, we are ready to stop. We could see Condom by noon and stopped for chocolate, apricots and water. We sat with Christian, another Parisian, and ate what we had. There was no open store in the little town that we stayed in last night. We entered Condom by 12:30 and proceeded to miss the turn for the old monastery that we are staying in. That was the only hiking issue of the day, a two hundred yard detour. We also had to briefly navigate around some muddy tractor ruts. About the only thing to mar the day.
We got to the hospice and needed to wait for the office to open at three. Got some pilgrim refreshments and found some shade to nap. It is 4 now and we are showered and in our private room. Peggy is doing a little laundry and we may head into town to taste a little local production.