Small latin and less Greek
The accommodation at the Presbytery was by no means de luxe. My first choice of beds broke as I sat on it and the shower stall with its wild, swinging hose offered nowhere to hang my clothes. I showered inside, and dressed outside in the open air. But the water was hot.
Last night I ate with the German couple, Peter and Dorothy. They spoke some English and very little French, and conversation was difficult at times. I recognized that glazed look in Dorothy's eyes, as she nodded without understanding what I was saying. Perhaps I wasn't fooling anyone either. But we had one thing in common. Like Servais, they were choristers. We talked about the works we had sung, and sang an air from the Brahms Requiem.
Peter confirmed something I had learned from a German student on the Chemin de Vezelay: that the teaching of Latin was thriving in Germany, and even a little Greek was taught as well. The Germans believed that this encouraged the development of critical thinking. Such enlightenment: much latin and a little Greek!
As we had come two or three kilometres off the path to get to the gite, we now had to make our way back along a very busy main road. At times, the dreaded nettles had advanced up to and even beyond the edge of the road so I had to tread very gingerly when the big trucks passed.
At times I had to settle
For the nettle or the metal
But fine was I in fettle
For this pescatorial kettle
No sooner had I composed this piece of joggerel or dibberish, than I noticed a sign directing me to the GR off to the left. I took it, even though I would have to walk four miles further. Before I left this morning, I had phoned the gite at Oloron, left a message, and was waiting for a response, but a young Frenchman, Georges, overtook me and told me that it was closed. Now, in the immortal words of that great musical group, the Bills,
I had nowhere to go and all day to get there.
It was a long haul today, not particularly difficult, but long, and ending with a long trudge along the river. Two things stand out in this mind-numbing, leg-weary, back-aching day. The wisteria. Never before have I seen it in such majestic display. And the sheep. At one village, they swept through like a dust cloud.
It took me back to the droving days.
When I finally arrived at Oloron, the Office de Tourism gave me the option of a cheap hotel in town or a return bus ride to the gite at the next step on the chemin. I chose the latter. Since I would be spending a second night there, I could walk tomorrow, sans pack.