Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Friday, 29 April 2011

Day 29. Sarrance to Etsaut (23 kms)

29 April, 2011

Still no fleas (nor bedbugs) in the high Pyrenees. Nor the ting, tong, tang of the guitar.

I am on my own again. My companions are taking the bus to avoid a difficult section along the highway.

As the GR now makes detours with some steep climbs, I am sticking to the roads. It is easier on my shin.

I walked the seven kilometres into Bedous. As the trucks passed, they tried to whip my Tilley off my head, so I fastened it securely with my chinstrap.

A word about my Tilley. The Tilley Hat is a Canadian institution, like the Globe and Mail and the CBC, but less likely to make grammatical mistakes. If you encounter a Tilley, there is likely to be a Canadian underneath it. The Tilley Hat has a lifetime guarantee.

I acquired my first Tilley about 25 years ago. I wore it on school trips in the Rockies, on long walks in England, and on the Camino Frances and the Chemin du Puy. It finally wore out after 20 years. I took into a store and they replaced it without question.

I am now about five years into my second Tilley. Will I outlive it?

As I entered Bedous, I passed a memorial to les Passeurs, the members of the Resistance who smuggled the allied airmen out of France into Spain. This was one of the routes they took. I was moved by the simple truth of the dedication:

Aux Passeurs
Qui les guiderent
Au peril de leur vie

I looked up at the hills. The Germans would have easily controlled the valley road I was walking along. The Passeurs must have taken the airmen along secret paths high in the mountains.

The woman at the Office de Tourisme told me of a nice easy road to the village of Accous where the rest of the Company of Pilgrims were catching the bus to Somport.

It was a glorious day. I walked along a valley with steep hills on either side, rather like the Lake District in England. I could see some patches of snow on the tops.

I was marvelling at the beauty of nature, the bluebells and forget-me-nots and fox gloves, the song birds, the mountains rising on either side up to the sky, the sun shining through the waterfalls, and all the while, the sound of the rushing of the river down the valley.

"Earth hath not anything to show more fair," I thought.

And then I wondered why I hadn't reached the village. I checked my compass. I was heading in the wrong direction. I stopped a car. Yes, I had taken a wrong turning. Again.

For once, I wasn't too annoyed with myself. It had been a delightful detour. On the way back down the hill, a dog barked a warning. A shepherd was approaching with a flock of sheep. I let them pass by.

I finally reached the village of Accous. The others were there, except Miek, who was walking after all. I decided to walk another 10 kms to join her at Etsaut. Patrick, gentil as always, took responsibility for this splinter group and booked our places at the gite.

Staying with us at the gite are two friendly donkeys, who say from time to time, "Eeyore! Eeyore!"

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