Anoye to Morlaas – 16kms
It was going to be a hot day, so after waking, I wrote pages and left by 7.20am. I’m so glad I did, because it has put me in the swing of things again. It was good to do, and meant I would arrive early at Morlaas. Jacques had written to me “Are you following? Am in Borce. Are you well?”
I left the lovely gite and doubled-back to where I’d noted a fig and peach tree on the same street, and ate second breakfast. I was thinking about the bath mat at Anoye and that the options for home decorating are immense with the coquille shell design. There were beautiful old homes in Anoye, and they seemed to be well looked after. I walked up and out of the town, climbing out of the cool air, the rising sun on my back casting it’s orange light everywhere. I began to sense pockets of warm air, a portent of what would come later in the day. Francois was right, it would be hot.
Grape vines. The Pyrenees peeking above the trees. Orange slugs – on the road now. A dedicated group of volunteers is strong in Anoye as the gite had a great feeling and there were many details to make the pilgrim feel welcome. Chocolate being a prime one! Drinks in the fridge, potato crisps all purchased on the honour system. The volunteers who plant the trees also made their presence felt today – there were many more fruit trees planted by the road, but I noted that they were Amis de Chemin from St Jean Pied de Port. I suppose I am getting close to there now (even though my route won’t pass through there – it is the gateway to the Pyrenees for the three other routes in France).
Aire de Compostelle provided a lovely picnic spot, but I didn’t need a break.
The architecture of the area seems to reflect the landscape. More horses.
I decided on a Cosmo Cosmolino soundtrack today, the Streetsweeper album. I was feeling cosmic, and cosmopolitan all at the same time. I don’t know why I needed a sound track today, but I did. I saw chestnuts again, buddleias and heard church bells. Cows stared at me – what an easy life they have compared to their provoked brothers/sisters. More running water. Sarah McLachlan – Answer. A warm wind blew. Another river. The sweet smell of honeysuckle. Fresh air (the temperature type not clean type). I saw a pheasant today, crossing a road – that was a surprise. It was a busy road too, the D7. It begs a ‘why did the pheasant cross the road’ joke, but I only have one joke in my repertoire, and everyone I know has heard it already. “What’s brown and sticky?”… “A stick”.
I stopped for morning tea by a big fresh and clean river. It was a beautiful place.
Be near water. Be like water.
After my stop, I walked over the beautiful river I’d been observing (I ended up crossing six water courses by Morlaas), and then off on a road to the left to skirt another town, Raguet.
I started listening to Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I am glad she is on my playlist. Her talks, “Choosing a joyful dance” and “Dance of shared silence” spoke to me, not least because in the second one she mentioned Meister Eckhardt, who Matthieu had spoken about two days before. She re-authors his great quote:
“There is nothing so much like God in all the universe as shared silence”
and called to my attention a beautiful idea from Rainer Marie Rilke
“… a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.”
The Waterboys continued to buoy me with Preparing to Fly. I saw a snake by the road, there was a rock on a pole and funghi accompanying a balisage on a tree. It was once again a day of walking between many more cornfields and a little on bitumen roads. It was a happy day!
The battery to my phone went flat, and I was faced with listening to the growing sounds of Morlaas civilisation as I approached. Something’s burning. Acorns appeared on the beautifully soft path and in the distance the views of the Pyrenees grew more and more stunning. There are so many pots of gold, so much treasure to see and feel. The sounds of big roads and even airports came into my consciousness with the whirring engines of light planes approaching from behind me. Bullet casings again littered the path.
I crossed a busy highway, and began walking through the outskirts for longer than was comfortable, with the sun burning in the near-midday sky. I saw signs of public transport, bus-stops, and was contemplating taking a bus straight to Pau, but decided against it and kept walking. The way had the feeling of approaching Castres, but Morlaas is much smaller than that, and Castres is more like the size of Pau. Pau city centre is not actually on the route, though I was to find out it was really worth seeing. After visiting Lourdes, I thought I’d return to Morlaas and walk on to Lescar. Morlaas to Lescar actually borders the northern-most part of the outer suburbs of Pau (previously referred to as ‘the boring bits’). In my experience though nothing is boring to a pilgrim.
I arrived around 11:30am to Morlaas – perfect timing. I got a quiche at the boulangerie, along with a pain au chocolate with almonds and a soft drink as it would probably soon close for lunch. I went to the Office de Tourisme on the square facing the back of the church. They couldn’t help me with a booking for Lourdes, but gave me the number of a place that could. The office contained a number of interesting relics of centuries past, including a carved stone canard (duck), a carved musician and a great relief map of the Pyrenees. It was a nice little collection along with the pilgrim’s staff.
It was really hot already and I was exhausted even though I’d only walked 16 kms. It was a slow saunter to the camping municipal (camp ground), which was right next to the public swimming pool and behind the park office. I booked my accommodation for tomorrow night and it was 45 Euro. A bit steep, but I wanted to see the place and it is always worth it. I also decided that I would take the bus into Pau early the next morning, then the train to Lourdes.
At the gite behind the office, I met Julie, another pilgrim. We had a nice chat about the way, and the insights and challenges it brings. She was resting up, nursing a foot that she thought might be broken, but had been walking on it for some time. She was also a ‘wild-camper’, and had her tent and tarp out drying on the washing line as she was doing a giant pack clean out. She was also busy binding her St Jacques coquille shell to her staff – not an easy feat. She was a real sweetie and we had a long chat about Australian history. She noticed that I felt very strongly about indigenous issues and that maybe I could move in that direction with my work when I got back. Later Francios and Cloudine arrived.
I went off in the afternoon to get some cash, buy a new pen (my kilometrico had died and I had been working though my felt tip pens in my pencil case and other biros, but none were satisfactory. It was a few days later that I realised the new pen was a Cristal M. I don’t know what that says about me, but at least I wasn’t injecting the ink. I’d have to wait to get home to write again with a kilometrico). I also took a walk through the beautiful, cool church. The stained glass windows threw bold colours onto the floor, walls and vaulted ceiling. It was beautiful. And the portal door is absolutely gorgeous.
On returning to the site, I found that Francois and Cloudine were going to go for a swim as we’d been told by the woman from the office that we could get in for free, so I decided to go too. My first summer swim. Next time I’ll swim more, it is so nice after a day of walking.
I also went around to see whether there might be wifi somewhere and my walk took me to a bar. I saw Virginie and Sophie there, they were staying somewhere else in probably a little more luxury than the campsite, although our accommodation was very clean and adequate. They were going to walk to Pau to go home to Lyon/Marseilles the next day.
There was a big supermarket on the other side of the fence from the caravan park and I went there to replenish supplies with once again, too much food, but it meant I ate well that night. I ate dinner with everyone outside, and later still another walker, Bernard, arrived. He sat separately to us though, which was a bit curious. My dinner was a melange of rice, tuna, celery salad from the supermarket (which I really love), tomato and with a panacotta chaser. Nice work!
The warmth continued well after the sun went down and we all weren’t long out of bed. Back inside the common room, which was another large room the same size as the room with several bunk beds in it (but with no kitchen – that was outside in the same block as the toilets and showers), we realised that some budding young artists had helped with the decorations. They were beautiful and I couldn’t help capturing them all.