Departures and Arrivals

And the journey really begins!

And the journey really begins!

Ah, and I’ve had more of these in three days than I ever thought possible!  Denver-Iceland-Paris-Bordeaux St. Jean-Bayonne-St. Jean Pied-de-Port.

Along the way, horse riding in the grey, cold, drizzle that seems to be Iceland, along with watching geysers in the drizzle, walking to the edge of astounding waterfalls in the drizzle, entering what might have been a gorgeous national park in the more-than-drizzling cold.  My Icelandic guide told me that in the past three months, they’ve had TEN DAYS with any sort of sunshine at all.  Hmmm . . . makes me re-think my long-held desire to spend more time in Iceland.

The Paris to SJPP day was smooth, but for the teeny bit of bad information I got from the train station information person, who then denied that she told me the wrong track and a different route, etc. etc.  But in the scheme of things, that only cost my bedraggled self three or four more hours in the terminal, and hey, what’s three or four hours??

I had already been very grateful that I’d made the decision to come on this trek alone, but when I boarded a one-car-train in Bayone to SJPP and was CRAMMED up against hundreds of others with backpacks, and THEN the train decided to break down, immediately requiring a TWO-car train, scattering this crowd only slightly less densely over the seats, backpacks spilling out everywhere, I decided to take a jump-seat next to the exit door, rather than chat with seat-neighbors.

For the next 2-1/2 hours, the shrieks of laughter coming from behind me, including a hyena-like bit higher in pitch than I can even replicate, I thanked my lucky stars that I’ll be a solo traveler, though of course I won’t really be any such thing.  I’m happy that group will have one another to entertain, but the people in my own hostel seem to be solo sorts, too, for the most part.

Heading into St. Jean Pied-de-Port

Heading into St. Jean Pied-de-Port

Our mob walked from the train station, through an arch of the typical old walled town, and up the cobblestone street, Rue de Citadelle, breaking off here and there for various accommodations.  I was grateful I had had the foresight to reserve two nights at Auberge du Pelerin, a very clean and well-run pilgrim’s hostel just around the corner from the trudge up the hill to the main street.  Dinner was waiting for me and a six-person group from Adelaide.  A cream soup of unrecognizable but tasty flavor, baked duck legs, corkscrew noodles with butter, somewhat overcooked, but I was very late for dinner, good bread (of course . . . we are in France), red wine, and a delicious sort of creme caramel for dessert.

The auberge closes at 10:00 p.m., so though I was going to go out wandering the streets for a bit, I was actually grateful that I was forced to go to sleep at a decent hour. Clean sheets, a top bunk, and the first opportunity to fall in love with my sleeping bag.  Half an Ambien to insure no mind-wandering, and I awoke this morning to the sound of my roommates (six of us in all, twelve in the shared-bath suite) shuffling around, getting ready for their departure over the Pyrenees, and grateful that I allowed myself a day to recuperate from the travel.

In addition to visiting the Post Office, to arrange to send a 4-1/2 lb box of “future necessities” to Burgos, I wanted to find a little pastisserie for a bit of breakfast.

Croissant, Cafe au lait, credenciale and my journal

Croissant, Cafe au lait, credenciale and my journal

Voila  . . . along with my Credenciale or Carnet de Pelerin de St. Jacques.  I already have my first stamp, received as the official at the Tourist Office handed me the Pilgrim’s passport that will accompany me for the next six or seven weeks.

Daniele, the owner of my auberge, is brisk, efficient, and friendly.  She also stamped my credenciale, and when she saw that the Tourist information people entered tomorrow’s date on my Camino passport, she said, “Hopeless, those people!”  Earlier she had labeled the French post office workers “lazy and unhelpful” and when I asked whether she too was French, she said, “I am a citizen of the world!” Delightful . . .  I like her very much.  What a great business to have . . . I’m sure it’s hectic, but she is the first contact with the port of the Camino for many people who, 26 at a time, catch a good night’s sleep in her auberge.

Tomorrow I really begin the walk, a long hike up the mountain.  If I survive this first section, the next many segments will be “cake”!

Au revoir.

About Woodswoman

Writer, educator, psychotherapist, woodswoman. Crave solitude and just walked the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Long-term partner, Neil. Three grown kids, one traveling the world for a couple of years (see, and two in other countries . . . Thailand and Texas! One Golden Retrievers and two cats. Avid reader, looking for 10 more hours in each of my days.
This entry was posted in Arriving in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, Backpacks, Camino de Santiago, Geysers, Horse riding in Iceland, Iceland, national parks, Pyrenees, Women Walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Departures and Arrivals

  1. Best to you on this journey and thank you for sharing it with us!

  2. Gail Baker says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I wish you the journey of a lifetime with positive growth.

  3. Donna says:

    So glad you made it safe.
    Buen Camino

  4. Ashley says:

    Woo Hoo!! Good luck on that first day, it might hurt, but you’ll make it 🙂

  5. It’s all about attitude, especially when traveling solo. And you have a terrific one! Wishing you a fabulous first day for your trek.

  6. Dian Sparling says:

    Bonne Chance demain…which is really already morning there for you. Up and over that mountain. Dian


  7. Last night in the Chicago area near midnight I put in my DVD of “The Way”, and watched it till 2:00 a.m., so that I too was remembering the passport and the stamps which you now are showing us in your photo. I would have forgotten that from the time I saw the film at a theater.
    I wanted to have September 1 begin for me…midwest American time…with the movie about the walk you are taking now for real. The Pyrenees are a big way to start…I am thrilled for you to be doing this so I can ask a real person so many things. Looking forward to your posts.

  8. Marco Garavaglia says:

    A journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step – Lao tzu, author of the Tao te Ching – The Way and its Power

  9. Jerri Chaplin says:

    so great to hear how you are doing! you are brave,persistent, adventurous,practical and reaping the benefits. love the sunflowwers.jerri

    Sent from my iPad

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s