It’s a miracle we’re walking. Desmond's legs were throbbing and painful much of the night.
In the morning they seem better and he takes an Ibuprofen right away instead of waiting until he can barely hobble. Also I’ve loaned him my spare pair of magic compression socks which seem to bring immediate relief.
Today the walking is much more pleasant. The sun is shining, most of the day we walk on dirt paths. There is much climbing and descending which stretches the tendons even better than exercises can.
A little ways outside of Orthez we are surprised to see the Woman of the Woods sitting under a tree writing down her thoughts. She must have gotten up at daybreak to get so far down the road ahead of us!
All day we catch glimpses of the Pyrenees in the distance, we try to capture the feeling of distance and mystery but our little cameras are inadequate, alas.
The last hour we walk along the river where we come upon the magnificent citadel of Sauveterre-de-Béarn.
We climb up to the church of St André and are stunned to be met inside by the Woman of the Woods who seems to have taken a shorter route.
She expresses her disapproval of the way we are doing the camino, wondering if the camino can possibly give us what we need this way. She doesn’t understand - which is probably why they didn’t allow her to become a nun and sent her off to find her calling on the caminos of Europe (our little fantasy!) Des and I are both organizers. We can make plans, we can make spreadsheets, we can make phone calls. What is hard for us is to just be on the road and experience everything without having anything to organize. That is what the camino has to give us this year.
We want to explain this to the Woman of the Woods but now that we want to say something she shushes us, saying “not in this holy place!” and walks out of the church and out of our lives.
Jean Paul of Taxi service Napoleon Compostelle, a cheerful giant of a man, comes to pick us up and drive us back to Orthez, since there appears to be no place to sleep in Sauveterre...
We are so pleased that the day of walking went well that we have a couple of beers on the square at the busy Corral Café in Orthez. It is one of the only busy spots in this saddest of towns.
So much history but such a feeling of decay. They’ve tried everything to make it attractive to tourists; they’ve even closed mediaeval streets off for pedestrians but the stores are all gone. Empty windows and boarded up houses...