Started out

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Before.

Canola is in flower, the sky a soft blue, everything is bright and mute. In P— I was told that I had to take a later bus. The police were examining the bus so we were late to go. A lady sat next to me going to her brother in S—. The countryside was green. I was in a panic about my accommodation, it was almost midnight and the street was deserted and all the houses closed in on themselves, but the guy stuck his head out the upper window, showed me the house and talked to me for a while. It’s hard to be given so much, so I say Yes, yes, ok, thank you, and that’s that. I slept very well.

In the morning I stitched on a button and talked to his sister. In the night one of her children came downstairs with a nightmare and the host tried to grab him but the little boy just stood by the wall for a few minutes and then ran upstairs. Here a fountain is making the shape of a boat hull.

Waiting on the platform, above a stationary train the rain poured down before the treetops, which was an exciting and simple beginning. I followed walkers to the office and met an American lady, D—. The guy at the hostel said the first stage is to listen to your body. There will come a time in the next two or three weeks when you don’t want to walk anymore, you want to quit you are so tired. But you keep walking. Then you learn to love yourself. The second stage is you learn to love other people as they are. Everyone is only a walker until they reach S—, where they become a pilgrim. People often get scared when they near S— that they won’t keep the good feeling, but they don’t need to feel that way. He also said you live in the moment and you have to have fun. D— said this is out of her comfort zone.

1.

I woke in the night and listened to the rain and wondered when it was time to get up. Breakfast was tea and bread and butter and jam. I started with D—, an Irish man and two American men. The countryside was green and steep, there were sheep grazing and flowers. I talked to a Polish lady in Spanish. After a coffee stop I walked on with D— and we talked about why we were doing the walk. Then we stopped talking and saw a snowy mountain ahead, and then it started snowing on the wind, and we were on the snowy mountain and it seemed to keep going and the hostel we both thought was up ahead was nowhere. We kept walking though for what seemed a long, unexpectedly difficult way (it’s meant to be hard, but this hard?) into this, water filling our shoes, and my plastic poncho split down the middle so I held it against the wind like a shawl, but bits kept flying off. I put on my flannelette and cotton jumper over my woolen jumper and wrapped a sarong over my head. D— kept encouraging me and telling me to walk behind her but my poncho kept shredding itself on the wind. At a bend the American guys came back and said it only gets worse. We ran to get a ride with some shepherds. A girl was already in the back looking pale and sick. Later we had pizza.

2.

The scenery was farms, houses, beds of vegetables on the river floodplain. I walked truly slowly and tried to look at everything at my own pace. The path got steep and I had to use tree sticks to push me up. An Irish mother and daughter passed me, swearing to one another. I could walk easier if I thought I was fine. At the hostel I washed my muddy pants and went to church. The priest welcome pilgrims and named countries, including Australia. Later I met the Irish pair and they said Didn’t we meet before, oh you’re from Iceland aren’t you. I said no, I’ve been there though. They said Oh, the tags on your bag. But yesterday someone was referring to a girl from Iceland, and now I want to know, was that me?

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One thought on “Started out

  1. enroo says:

    Very interesting post. Would love to hear more about your experiences on the walk, how you found it etc. It must be interesting to talk to everyone else doing it.

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