2 July, 2012
Lord what fools these mortals be
The gite was very modern, clean and comfortable. And quiet, for nine and a half minutes at a time. Then, somewhere in the building, some kind of machine would run for about 30 seconds. Perhaps it was a water pressure pump, or the boiler bringing the water back to its regular temperature, but it wasn't your usual fridge-rumbling kind of noise: it was more like a CP locomotive outside your window. But eventually I slept.
The cost for the gite was eight euros. It is certainly much cheaper to walk the Camino in France than it used to be. Almost all towns have a gite run either by the municipality or the pilgrims' association, and the cost is never more than ten euros for the night. Add to that the cost of meals and the occasional beer and you are well within the oft-quoted 50 euros a day. And if you cook your own meals at the gite, as the Dutch pair do, you will spend less than 30, even 25, euros a day. In fact you can do it on a shoe string. Some of the gites call for a donation, and I've seen people put in just a few coins.
It was a very easy day. In no time at all, I arrived at the little village of Audignon. Unfortunately for me, but not for the building, the eglise Romane was closed for repairs.
After that, I walked for a while beside an abandoned railway line which once served towns such as Saint-Sever and Hagetmau that I am walking through now. The rails were still intact and in much better shape than those of our late lamented E&N.
At Horsarrieu, my next stop, a young fellow opened a bar for me and sent me out to the patio to sit with his grandmother. She told me that she remembered the passenger trains from her childhood. The last goods train passed through about five years ago, she thought.
I walked through fields of corn most of the day. They are irrigated either by single rotating sprinklers which send out a huge arc of spray every second, or by lines of joined overhead piping which stretch right across a field. I was puzzled by long, open stretches of dirt until I realised that they were for the wheels of these gigantic contraptions. The system of pumping and piping for these sprinklers is elaborate.
I arrived at Hagetmau and picked up the key to the gite. This time it was five and a half euros. Again I am alone.
In the afternoon I visited the Crypte de Saint-Girons to see its 12th C. carved capitals on the columns supporting what was once part of the abbey above. I was amazed by the detail of the carvings until I read that they had been restored in the early 20th century. The ruins of the abbey were razed, but the crypt was saved and the carvings redone. It doesn't seen authentic to me. Wouldn't it have made more sense to restore the ruins somewhat and leave the capitals alone?
Unfortunately, the stillness of this wonderful place was marred by some artists setting up an exposition of ugly modern copper sculpture. Of all the places to put modern art! In a small medieval crypt.