Walked in the rain though the traditional pilgrim gate in St. Jean Pied de Port around 12:15 after having left Larceveau around 8. It was only a 17 km walk. Plenty of mud and we managed to outpace a Swiss couple. It may sound petty but it was satisfying. More than twenty years ago we were in the Alps as a family. There was a trail that advertised that Swiss Grandmothers do the trail with their grandchildren in 2 hours. It took us six and we were dog tired. Today we had our revenge. We passed them after starting behind them in less than hour. Did not look back. Petty? Yes. Still happy.
Climbed a few minor hills but followed roads when we were not in the mud. Passed through old St. Jean that was destroyed by Richard the Lionheart in 1177. The King of Navarre then built and fortified the new St. Jean pied de Port. . The Pied de Port means “at the foot of the pass”. Nice town but we were eager to finish the first half of the journey and powered through.
As we passed through the new Pied de Port entry gate, we were greeted by Americans who offered to take our picture under the gate. We obliged and exchanged information. You would think we had won the war when they found out that we have done 730 Kms from Le Puy. Even the French are impressed. Now we need to act gracious and not be know it alls. We did advise some folks to think twice about doing a snow crossing of the high trail. We then caught ourselves and told them to go to the pilgrim’s office and get their advice since ours was second hand.
We have not heard so much English since we left the US. It is best to just be quiet unless someone actually needs help. Most of the folks are trying out and being sold cheap ponchos that will not work. Oh well. Did I mention that it has been raining all day? It is in the forecast for tomorrow also. Most folks are planning to do the crossing in one day. We will do it in two. Experience is the best teacher but the lessons are expensive.
It is sad to see so many of the French folks that we have been hiking with end their journeys. Very few go beyond this point in one trip. The RV people are going to Roncevalles and then home. Most of the Americans say they are heading to Santiago. We wish them Bon Camino. Ran into the Montreal guy in the Pilgrim Office. He is in good shape and waiting for the young Canadian I hiked with yesterday.
The Pilgrim Office was really busy after we had lunch and went there. We checked into a hotel and dropped our packs. Back to the Pilgrim Office for fresh passports since ours are almost full. We had immediate credibility with them when they saw our old almost full books. They could not believe we had come that far today to arrive at the office when we did. I told them that we had been in town for two hours. It is good to be a veteran.
We did some shopping for replacements for out flip flops since the weather has been so cold that our flip flops are bad news. Exchanged information with the shop owner who spoke English well. He was playing the French version of the movie, The Way. He said it would be released in theaters this fall. I told him that we had decided to do the Camino before we saw the movie. He was pleased and also pleased that we bought some fancy new sandals from him for the rest of the trip. Also got a copy of Miam Miam Dodo for the Spanish part of the trip. Invaluable.
We are excited about the new challenges and quite confident that we can handle the physical part. We will decide in Pamplona about possibly extending our trip so that we can walk to Finestere.
Just made reservations at a good Basque restaurant as it is time to celebrate the half way point and our transition to Espana.