Tuesday, July 30th

Today's road, according to Raju, is confusing. Already, there's two systems, the GR65 with the red and white balises, the GR with the Spanish system of yellow and blue arrows - sometimes they're the same, sometimes not. Part of the way today in unmarked, apparently, while in other parts you have to follow the 'not this way' balises. So far, the crossed balises have always meant "no, you idiot, you're going the wrong way."

And, at breakfast, met an American couple who're also walking to the same destination as us. The English was going a mile a minute, and the Frenchies couldn't get a word in edgeways. Yaha!

The eglise, naturally. It's a nice one, small, human.

So far, walking on roads, got menaced by a dog, "pleased to meet you dog, hope you guessed my name", uphills, The pilgrims of old sought out every chapel and eglise along The Way, and naturally, these are the high point of very town, overlooking everything.
Still, it's been good, as though the prospect of an evening speaking English has put an extra spring in my step and a smile on my face. This morning, the American guy said they were from "Washington, DC", and both Saint Francis and Assisi have been making jokes about it ever since. The French have some prejudice regarding all-things-American. Maybe they ridicule me, too, when I'm not around. I wouldn't be surprised.

An orange, coffee, chocolate and water. The food of the gods.

Made it before the real rain began. Found the Bureau d'Poste, and amazingly, it was open.

In a bar, having syrop with cold water. You get to choose from about 40 flavours. Had the mint last night, but today a flavour I can't quite place, like a mix of lemon and coconut. It's good. But behind the bar is a postcard from Australia, with about 20 chicks showing their butts. It's embarrassing. The other people in hear are all men, hommes, Basque hommes at that, they're listening to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music, doe a deer a female deer, ray a drop of falling sun .. we're in Basque country. Things seem coarser. The architecture changes, the houses less well kept, less stylish. Perhaps typifying it is the array of semi-pornographic images decorating the bar, you just wouldn't see it in other parts of France.

Still, the walk today has been good. The 30mks just falling away, almost effortlessly, drizzling on and off, with the occasional steep hill.

The Gite
And a bizarre gite it is. Imagine a half-renovated two-story terrace. Half old and decrepit (but cute), the other half all mod cons. The showers are new, to the extent of still having the "Wet Paint" sign on the door.

In our room, there's a clothesline strung from door to window, and all our washed stuff hanging from it.

The French for 'happiness' is 'bonheur'. I learned that from a poster for a French gossip magazine. I've had a bonheur jour, so far.

We have a booking at the brasserie, for 6:30, as there's not really any cooking facilities at the gite. Well, you can cook, but there's no crockery or cutlery. Still, it was only 6 euros.

Anyway, back at the Cafe de Sports. They're not playing the Sound of Music anymore. Just me this time, having a beer, on my own. But there's not much happening in Arthez, but it does have its very own gang though. About six guys and three chicks. They think they're homies, with the baggy trousers, the stance, and one even has a toy gun which he aims sideways, homie-style, aiming it at peoples' heads as they walk by. Some of them have vaguely Spanish looks, which I guess makes them vaguely authentic. Still dickheads though.

Clementine's just walked in, sans Saint Francis and Assisi, saying that she always knows where to find me, in the closest bar, having a beer.

Tea, at the brasserie. And almost everybody staying at the gite was there, sharing a long table. Spoke to Ron, the American guy, whose knowledge of French is even more limited than mine. An English conversation was long overdue.

Had the 'Canoisolle' or something, the regional specialty. Turns out to be duck with sausages and baked beans; followed by 'Tarte a'tete', an apple thing with cream. It was good. And the vin rouge (naturally) and water (again, naturally) although I could've drunk the entire table worth. Salt cravings I guess, needing saline, just put me on a drip.

The others have gotten into a conversation, and there's lots of swapping of names, addresses, phone numbers, emails. For most of them, though, their walk finishes at Saint Jean Pied de Port.