October 4th, 2019

Santiago de Compostela IX Day 83 (Bazas-Captieux) 18 km

Tuesday October 1, 2019

We have a lavish Logis breakfast with scrambled eggs and sausages!

It’s a short walk today - 18 km - but very boring. We follow an abandoned railroad track all day, one that has been converted into a bicycle path.
It is level, it is straight, it is flat.
This is the true essence of the camino. All one can do is walk - one step at a time. All the rest - the amazing sights, the interesting meetings, the spiritual insights, the inspiring conversations - don’t get one to Santiago! Only walking does.

In Captieux we are in time to eat lunch! We hesitate after having had such an excellent breakfast but it is one of the few times in our almost 1700 km of walking that this opportunity has presented itself so we decide to go for it! I have a delicious green salad with chicken, a piece of beef with fries, and a dessert, with wine - all for 14€!
This way we can skip dinner.

We get to Villa Capsylvania, drop onto our beds and don’t get off them for the next 16 hours. Tomorrow is a long day. We will need to be rested!

Santiago de Compostela IX Day 84 (Captieux-Roquefort) 35 km

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We have a pleasant breakfast while we chat with Madame; at the corner we buy sandwiches.
We head back to the abandoned railroad line. Soon outside of Captieux, it becomes even better for walking. Apparently this district doesn’t have the European connections that Captieux has, because they don’t have a concrete bicycle super highway. The old railroad trail is unpaved which makes for much better walking.

We walk through the Parc Naturel Régional des Landes de Gascogne, Europe’s largest production forest/natural park, first planted in the 19th century. After about 13 km we enter the department of Landes, which around here reminds us of Holland (or the Netherlands as the Dutch government has just decided). Flat, sandy, windy with production pine forests and cornfields.

This goes on for mile after mile on this our second (and last ever) 35 km day.
Desmond entertains. I hear why the Mitford sisters called the Queen Mother “Cake”, how Martha Stewart has the gardeners on her estate in Ann Arbor, (or is it Bar Harbor?) sieve pine needles and spread them on all the paths for a soft and fresh-smelling walk.
I’ve heard these stories every year since we started walking but they never grow stale.
There’s new stories too, like the one of the Earl of Beauchamp’s young male friend who would wear everyone’s pearls at country weekends because he had the perfect skin for restoring them...
We have a puzzle as well. Who was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots? Was it Margaret Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII or was it Marie of Guise? It turns out it was the latter. Marie was Margaret’s daughter in law, which is why Elizabeth and Mary were first cousins “once removed”.

We have lunch in the lovely town of Bourriot which is the first sign of human habitation in two days!

An elderly gentlemen drives up and offers to drive us to the Chapel of Violotte. I feel superstitious about refusing something the camino is offering us, but that is not where we want to go. We have to meet up with our backpacks in Roquefort and still have miles to go!
It is a 35 km walk today which means we walk nonstop from 9 to almost 6. But we feel much better than during our 35 km walk last week. We’re obviously in better shape!

We are very warmly welcomed at our hotel and we gratefully lie down and look at our email.
I am delighted with a video from my friends SB and DMcD! They have filmed some exercises for me to do for my Achilles Tendon after reading here about my worries! In one take. It’s interesting the way the camino takes care of one.

Dinner was quite excellent - a pumpkin soup with bleu d’auvergne sprinkled on it,
The mashed carrots had orange juice in it. And they have a jam made with apricots and olive oil which is quite delicious! (I must be trying to widen my reader base by talking about food, have you noticed?)

Santiago de Compostela IX Day 85 (Roquefort-Mont de Marsan) 28 km

Thursday October 3, 2019

Our third monotonous day of walking through pine forests and corn fields.
Desmond’s legs are bothering him which means we’re not walking our regular 4 km an hour.
This is good news for my feet and tendons, but it causes us to have another long day.

We have two wonderful stops though - one in Bostens where the church has a separate room for pilgrims where one can rest and make coffee or tea. Because it’s so nice out, we don’t make use of it but we are charmed nonetheless.
Our second pleasant surprise is a restaurant in Gaillères serving lunch!
Desmond needs a pick me up so we take the excellent daily special consisting of a skewer of duck, green beans and gratin de pate, with a plum tart as dessert. A pitcher of rose wine is included, and coffee, all for 11€ per person! We still have 17 km to go after lunch, which takes us 6 hours, but it is worth it!

The one nice thing about these long days is that one gets to walk in the late afternoon when the light is softer, quieter, when there’s people out. They greet us and wish us well. A woman asks us to pray for her when we get to Santiago, I ask Desmond to remind me to pray for Mimi.
On another camino, in another lifetime, I may just walk in the mornings and in the late afternoons. During the early afternoon I will sit by a river and read...

The last kilometers into Mont de Marsan are endless. We’re just so tired. We still have our baguettes which were meant for lunch, so we eat them in our room and don’t go out into this town of culture and entertainment.

Santiago de Compostela IX Day 86 (Mont de Marsan-Saint Sever) 20km

Friday October 4, 2019

This is our fourth day of walking through pine forests and cornfields.
Boring, boring, boring!
And hard...
Both our weather apps said that it wouldn't rain today but because our sense of weather has been so sharpened, having lived outside the last week, and because it is raining when we look out the window, we decide to take our raincoats. And a good thing too!
It rains off and on all day, not hard but enough to keep ones glasses misted over...
Most of the day we walk on asphalt because the shoulders haven’t been mowed, good for flora and fauna but not for us.
We meet our first other pilgrims of the season, a Dutch couple from Harderwijk, going from Saint Reole to Saint Jean Pied de Port.

We pass a couple of lovely churches and then head up the mountain upon which the 10th century Abbey of Saint Sever is perched.
We’re staying in a real guest house for the first time this year, due to some changes in the itinerary which Caminoway has informed us of in a very timely and correct fashion.
Dinner is in a big group, with our Dutch friends, a young French couple from Toulouse and one from Bordeaux with their two year old daughter.
We have a wonderful evening. The Dutch couple is very funny, the French are charming. Mme serves a great meal, and keeps the wine flowing!
There is a bit of awkwardness when I regrettably suggest amid general hilarity over Britains Brexit problems that a country in which complex social issues are fought out in the streets such as France should probably not criticize one in which they are fought out in Parliament...
But we quickly move on and I propose a toast to France speaking from my heart when I say what an amazing experience it has been walking over one thousand km through this country from the top northeast corner to the bottom southeast. It makes us a bit sentimental thinking that we will be moving on into Spain in only a few days!