It’s still bitterly cold. It’s still cloudy. It’s still windy. I’m saying these things because I need to change the weather and our luck, hopefully for the good. At least the rain has stopped (knock on wood) but a touch warmer would be nice.
After a relaxing night in the semi-classy Hotel de France in Arusha, we had trouble getting out of bed. We finally managed a 8:30am start and wondered who cursed us with the gray, thick clouds again. I guess we should look at it as wondering who helped us with keeping those clouds from pouring rain down on us. The walk out of Auch is a lot shorter than the walk in and we were very soon on an extremely quiet back road. The first 10km were on roads but, as noted, they were so quiet, it wasn’t an issue. By “quiet”, I mean no more than four cars passed us each hour. Towards the end of this section, we met a young Belgian boy from Brussels who was studying in Auch but had a couple of days to to walk some of the Camino. We never did catch his name but he is now know to us as the Brussels Sprout.
After many roads, we finally headed into the forest again after bypassing all the muddy trails into Auch. It was okay at first but the mud soon took over again. We were slipping, sliding and trying to dodge the worst bits over just 700m or so. It took too long to cover this distance and our shoes were caked with parts of the trail. As a result of this test, we bypassed the next two sections of trail again.
^A significant corner in our walk. up until this point, we have primarily westward. At this exact corner, we changed to be mainly heading southwest toward our final goal of St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
We arrived at the village of Barran at 12:35pm, looking for something to eat. It turned out that the only store in town closed at 12:30pm. No wonder the town was called Barran. We again met the Brussels Sprout who had raced off faster as soon as he got out of the first forest trail. He wondered how we caught up to him. We did take the road bypassing the second section of trails but it wasn’t a shortcut. Both the road and dirt trails were the same distance. He just took too long in the market before it closed.
^The gate is the only part left of the 13th century fortifications around Barran. the rest of the walls were torn down 500 years ago to build the church. Making love, not war!
We arrived in the little village of L’Ilse de Noé at 2:0pm and quickly found the green doors of Edna Moody’s famous gîte. She is a English woman who has been running her gîte for ten years and she serves a proper English breakfast. We can’t wait until morning! We had to wait a little for her though as when we arrived, she was not at home. The door was ajar though so after knocking a few times, we went in, calling her name. No answer. We went up stairs calling her name. No answer. Melanie was worried that the previous pilgrims must of murdered her and now our fingerprints were in the house. She suggested we get out quickly and try calling her on the phone. No answer. What to do?
^How did that get there?
It turned out that there was a restaurant open on the chateau behind the gîte. That shocked us but the fact that they were open at 2:15pm was an out and out miracle. We asked in we could still eat and the waiter – wearing a archetypical beret said we could eat only if we wanted soup and poulet. Great! Soup and chicken sounds perfect. The soup came out with a small salad with fois gras, all very nice. As Francois gave us the soup though, he asked how we liked our meat cooked. Um, until it’s done? Eventually we just said “medium” and crossed our fingers. The main course turned out to be a steak. Not your everyday steak but a huge portion of the most gristled, most stringy, the most fat covered steak that ever grazed its earth. It was like eating an old, uncooked saddle shoe.
Fortunately, Dame Edna was back when we returned but I think she lost a few pilgrims to the next town during her absence. Melanie and I are alone with Edna tonight. Both Brussels Sprout and German Pete, from back in Léguevin, who we briefly met in Auch and on the trail again today, were planning to stay here tonight. They may now be 8km further down the trail but we have the gîte to ourselves and and a full English breakfast waiting for us in the morning. We win!
Peace y’all. Pardon the typos – it’s late.