Saturday, May 01, 2010

Cagnotte-woods outside Bergouey

It rained that night and off and on through the day. But it would turn out to be a beautiful day. Walking through wet grass is not beautiful though. It makes you wet.

Saving my shoes and feet by walking in my farmersandals. It takes time, is wearysome; but one of the lessons I learned early on as mountaineer and trekker is that a little extra effort to keep your feet dry always pays of. I'd rather use 30 minutes on a 10 minute stretch than walk the rest of the day with wet feet. Not only is it unpleasant, but there is no surer way to get blisters than walking with wet feet.

Wow! What is that? Art? A secret message? 

One of several little beecubefarms. No bees though. Maybe they don't like the rain? That's ok with me. I love all living bee-ings; but I prefer loving bees from a distance.

I like basque food. This is some kind of spicy liverpaste. Perfect roadfood.

I hope this doesn't sound to gay; but i really love this little flying cock.

There is something about rain that tends to kill animals. I have no idea what or why.

It is about 4:30 in the afternoon. But with my muddled decisionmakingprocess I feel it's a bit early to call it a night even if I found a very nice little chapel that's being restored. Neither did I manage to take a picture of the chapel. Cause, you know, my face is just so much more interesting.

And then, suddenly, light was fading, I was wet and starting to hurt and even though I was pretty sure Bergouey could not be far I just had to put up camp. I don't like walking in the dark with all the rabid French dogs, and anyways refugios do tend to be almost impossible to enter after 6ish in the afternoon.

It's saturday. We're all having a party that night. Down the valley the french kids(?) are having what sounds like an outdoor rave lasting well into the night and early hours. I'm enjoing some of the holy ganja and the last of my Dax-cognac in my tent. I'm sure we all agree'd it was a pity the DJ sucked.

Friday, April 30, 2010

St.Paul lés Dax-Cagnotte(?)

The Dax hospitalero. Really a very nice man. I was still sleeping when he came to clean - as I was starting to hurry he just told me to chill and take my time (or whatever the equivalent in French is - he didn't speak a word of English ofcourse).

Later on it would be pretty hard to notice I was a hippie-stoner walking the camino, but those first couple of days in Dax I guess it was pretty obvious I was stoned. I hadn't smoked the holy ganja for months, and when you're smoking there is always a day or two of adjusting before you get that desired level of feeling God and nature and spirituality (and not to forget: loosing most of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-symptoms) without actually being so stoned you're having trouble keeping your eyes open, or falling to deep into whatever you're contemplating.

But this guy showed absolutely no judgement; and if there was any at all it was a judgement so positive it's impossible for me to tell if he was happy that a stoner was doing the camino (presumably to change his life) or  just happy to see a fellow hippie on the road.

I'd seen these memorial statues in every village and town since Bordeaux; but only now did my mind draw the connection between these and my studies of the "two great wars". As you might know the war-reparations Germany had to pay after WWI broke the country's economical spine and paved the way for Adolph Hitler and the National-Socialist Party, NASDAP, them natzis.

Now, ofcourse, one or two of these little statues are nice. That means that family and friends, the local community perhaps are pulling together to honour their dead sons. When there is one in every little French village; that means the government put them up. 

Now, where do you think they got the funds to do that in post war France? 

Having studied philosophy and religion extensively I am, ofcourse, quite aware that everything is connected to everything - and that not all those connection are beautiful and filled with the light of God. But really! Those little statues honouring the dead sons of France sort of disgusts me. Was it for this we had to suffer the atrocities of WWII? To honour dead sons who died for a cause they did not understand, a cause they would not have committed to if they did?

Taking my lunch I was watching a son, father and grandfather fishing together in this lake. A happy feeling filled me then; watching the happy people.

I am finally and truly out of that blight of a "national park". 

And I'm smoking! My blisters are under control. Roads are no longer completely flat - they go up and down and my acing achilles and beginning tendentious simply disappears now that the terrain is a littlebit more varied. Life is good. It really is.

More dead French sons. I've decided to take pictures of these whenever I see them.

A cross as humble as the Christ himself. It feels like I am finally entering the true camino.

And a little bamboo forest! How cool is that?

Yet even more dead French sons. Note Jesus looking away from the shame of their fathers.

I think I am in Cagnotte - but the refugio was full, and the Mairie was closed so I have no stamp in my pilgrim-passport to refresh my memory. Some random person I asked for directions arranged for me to sleep in this community-hall. Jack bless his soul!

There were cold beers in the frigde, that bed is not nearly as uncomfortable as it seems. It doesn't take much to feel blessed.

I had my dinner in this park. In the background you can see the community-hall where I spent the night.

Yes. Happy, happy, happy deep inside.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saint Paul les Dax day II

My shoes are starting to fall apart. I'd thought they'd last all the way to Santiago and beyond. But the wear and tear is simply amazing. More on that elsewhere. Just keep in mind that whatever punishment my equipment is taking, my body is taking as well.

Now, since I actually didn't sleep in the Dax refugio the previous night and thus can sleep there tonight; since I'm getting a late start no matter what since I have to see an optician; since I really do need a little rest... I pack up my equipment and leave before any hospitalero shows up in the morning so that I can arrive again in the afternoon, like, you know, I was never even there.

In some peoples book that's cheating. Not in mine. My vows includes not taking motorised transport and to never send my luggage with one of the many luggage-services along the camino. Ideally I'll try to move closer to Santiago every day, even if that only means to walk 50 meters or 3 kilometers down the road to another refugio. Which is practically possible on most of the Spanish Camino Frances. Not in Dax though unless I want to sleep in a 50€ hotel.

A lot of pilgrims, or touregrinos as the derogatory term goes, will send their luggage or even take the bus or a taxi when they are struggling. I object to such practises. If you had do that you didn't make it to Santiago as a pilgrim. Sorry (but someone had to say it). 

If you stop somewhere, even for ten years, without leaving the creeds of the pilgrim, you did make it. There is a spiritual part to that - I'll write more on that later. And then there is what you might call a sportif part to that: how will you know what your body and mind can do if you take a taxi when it starts to hurt, when you realize you cant walk as many K's a day as you thought? It's more honour in not reaching Santiago, coming home and saying I couldn't do it in 30 days than cheating yourself of the true victory and cheating authentic pilgrims of their deserved honour.

You walk a pilgrimage to get merit, yes? By cheating you de-merit yourself; you dishonour yourself in the eyes of other pilgrims, in the eyes of Jack, Jesus and God.

You make it seem like anybody can do it. That's not the reality of the thing. The reality is that everybody can't do it. So, taking an extra day in Dax, extra days in St. Jean Pied-de-Port and then again in Burgos... did I do it? Or did I dishonour myself in the very eyes of humanity?

This is where I had my coffee. I love the fact that there is a topless lady on the wall.

In Finisterre, relating my experiences to Andrea I would say that I don't care a dolt about animals, but that the mistreatment of trees aches my heart. Sometimes I'll say or write pointed things just to hear what it sounds like and/or to help your mind see a completely different and quite possibly mildly relevant point of view; to wake you up.

I do care about animal wellfare. But trees have a special place in my heart. I'm not even ashamed to say that. I prayed and cried for this one as I watched them kill it. I guess for the view of the tenants in that white building or some other stupid heartless reason.

I don't feel much pride for my country. We're fat from the toil of other nations and from the exploitation of nature. (You would be shocked to know the details of fishfarming or the realities of industrial fishing.) At the same time, when I am far far far away from home... I do feel a strange sort of pride when our harsh and cold nature(s) is used as an argument for selling tried and tested technology like below or even for branding luxury items, design and clothes. 

Back in the refugio I note that there are no toilets inside, thus the pilgrims last night must have known there was another pilgrim there. Plenty of space aswell.

Plantain-leaves [groblad] - perfect stuff to heal blisters, sores and superficial wounds.