Just Kidding About Summer

When it hit the high eighties yesterday by the pool, I thought our main concern might be keeping cool while walking. The concern was premature. It started raining last night and continued all day. Mostly I would describe it as drizzle although we had periods of real rain. Our parkas did well and we completed our 20 km hike in good shape.

When walking in the rain you have several concerns. One is to keep your pack dry as it is disaster to get your stuff in the pack wet. The poncho is our main line of defense in this task. Second are the boots. Since we were mostly on roads today, this was not much of a problem. The waterproofing handles it except if you go into a 6 inch deep puddle. None like that seen today. Did see a patch of extraordinary mud caused by a herd of dairy cattle that were on a wet section of the trail. We got around it without too much difficulty.

Ran into a new way of doing the Camino. There was a group of hikers that spent the night in Maslacq like us. We ran into them about eight Kms out as they emerged from an RV. Evidently, the RV moves along with them so they have something to carry their baggage and give them tea or coffee as needed. I think this is common with biking groups. This is the first time we have seen it on the Camino.

Our hostess from last night fixed us a big picnic lunch since there was nothing to buy or eat for our entire day. We sat on a log and ate during a brief respite from the rain. Peggy only took a few pictures because of the conditions. We reached our destination in 5 1/2 hours, the city of Navarrenx. It is one of the first town of any size to not be located on a hill top. This was possible because of the innovative fortifications that would become standard in the 17th Century. We walked by the sloped and angled walls in the rain and did not do the tourist deal.

We have a nice room above a bar-restaurant where we will eat tonight. We have started to focus on crossing the Pyrenees. The major Pilgrimage routes start to merge and accommodations can be tricky. We went to the tourist office, which was actually open, and the young gal helped us make our reservations for the last two nights in France. She couldn’t make a call to Spain but I had an email address in Spain to with which to work.

The key issue in planning is the weather. There are two major paths over the Pyrenees from St. John to Roncevalles in Spain. It can be dangerous to use the higher Route Napoleon. The movie The Way provided a rationale for using the lower route that Charlemagne used. It is less scenic but the weather forecast calls for rain most of the upcoming week. We do not need to walk through the rain clouds. Anyway, I made our first reservation in Spain at the Spanish equivalent of a B&B.

We have decided to use Private Gites and Chambre d’Hotes in Spain. They are more expensive than the municipal Auberges but you can make reservations in them unlike at the public Auberges. The policy in the public Auberges is first come first serve. That can make each day a race to a bed. We also have no idea of the the actual number of people on the Camino at this time.

The French hikers are generally down on the Spanish accommodations. We have had it pretty good with a couple notable exceptions. We have felt safe but have never been foolish. In Spain there are concerns about weirdos who steal shoe liners and inserts to make the boots unusable. Maybe this is a French urban legend. They also steal pilgrim passports. The ones that you get stamped at each lodging. Evidently, they are valuable for job applications. Given an almost 50% unemployment rate for the young, these documents could be tempting. Bottom line is that we can afford a little more than the basic bunk in a dorm and that is the plan.

Just in case you think we are acting like rich Americans, the going rate for a municipal Auberge bunk is 6 euros while in a private Auberge the average is 10-12 euros. Still a lot cheaper than Motel 6 and the wine is better.

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