Saturday, July 27th
Can't believe it. It is an absolutely beautiful day, The sun is shining, there's a soft breeze, the birds are singing, and I slept 'til 8.
We're only walking to Nogaro today, 13kms, and fairly easy walking at that.
Still here, at the gite. Nobody seems in much of a hurry to move. Assisi is tending his feet, Clementine is phoning her mother, Bonne Anniversaire, and Saint Francis is somewhere, probably on his mobile phone. There's a guy over the road mowing his lawn with a ride-on mower, who called out something to me, I have no idea what about, but Assisi answered him through the window.
Still here, just. I think they're about to wind-up what's been a fairly lengthy discussion about whatever it is they've been intensely discussing. From the occasional word, I gather the role of women in the Catholic Church has been thoroughly discussed, and the various views on the meaning of life have been totally workshopped. Bejaysus, I could've told 'em what it was if they'd asked. But, the general consensus seems to be love between all living things. Hell, three hours worth of discussion and they couldn't be more wrong.
Up the road apiece, not far, there's another discussion with the guys painting their front fence. A kind of light brown with fawn trim. After that, we're actually pilgrims again.
The only restaurant in town won't let us order just a drink. For some reason, Saint Francis and Assisi have decided that what we absolutely need is syrup (in French, syrop) with cold water. Whatever, but, to get it, we would have had to have ordered a meal. as well. I don't think so.
Still, the three others managed yet another discussion in the meantime. This one with Pablo, a motorcyclist who appears to have been everywhere. Morocco, Delhi, the middle of Australia. He tells a story about fishing for yabbies.
Onwards. Up the road, which just seemed to go on and on. Must be this walking in the afternoon when it's hot thing. Must've momentarily blanked out, as I nearly missed a turn. Into the vinyards, then the cornfields. Tall, stuffy, humid. Sweat. Falling behind the others, well behind, which is the way I want it to be today.
Finally arrived in Nogaro, the gite cômplet with the same car pilgrims. Doesn't matter, there's kind of a large covered porch at the front, so we're staying here anyway. We can use the showers anyway, and it's free. My favourite kind of gite. The woman running the place kisses us all when we arrived. First time I've really been French-kissed, à la a peck on each cheek.
Then wanders. Found the supermarche, the Spar. Buying a cold beer, a big one, and a packet of cacahuetes, an orange, then find a place in the park opposite the supermarche, and scoff the lot. Breda Beer, from Holland, 5% proof, doesn't quite do it for me.
To the eglise. It's nice.
Back to the gite. Guessing that we must be getting close to Spain, as there's a bullring in town. The others have just returned, laden with bags. Tonight, we're having an enormous salad planned, and, for dessert, something involving huge amounts of chocolat. Don't know what's it's called, it's a French thing.
The gite is next to a small airfield, and small planes, helicopters and gliders take-off and land.
From out there, the sound of small aircraft continues; and there's a motor-racing track with the screams of wheelies; and from over there, the piscine, sounds of kiddie happiness.
Sliced the tomatoes, for tonight's wonder salad.
According to 'Le Chemin du Puy vers Saint Jacques de Compostelle', which is the French version of the guide that most walkers here use, the typical itinerary from Nogaro runs like this:
Nogaro to Aire-sur-l'Adour
30kms, about 7h30m walking time
(28kms to Raju)
32kms, 8h walking
30.5kms, 8h walking
31.7kms, 8h walking
18.7kms, 5h walking
Navarrenx to Ostabat
24.5kms, 6h walking
Ostabat to Saint
22.6kms, 6h walking
Which means I have seven more walking days in France. A week, and probably walk everyday, as from what I can gather, none of these towns, apart from Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, warrant a second day.
The chocolat thing.
You take lots of chocolat, and melt it, and water so it's kind of runny, and keep it hot.
Take pears, strawberries, abricots, and cut them into chunks.
Using a fork, spear a piece of fruit, then dip it into the chocolat.
It's kind of a chocolat fondue.