Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Over The Pyrenees - Part II

Early the next morning, well before daybreak I awoke to the sound of pilgrims waking up and packing their few belongings in their backpacks - soon I followed suit, and after a quick look out the window I decided to pack down my rain jacket, as the pre-dawn sky spotted a few stars and it looked to be a clear day without rain.
After a typical French breakfast of cafe au lait, bread and jam, I put on my backpack, and started the trek up the mountains in the beautiful morning light. Clouds were lying deep in the valleys as the sun slowly climbed up over the distant mountain ridges. It was such a glorious morning, and I had to stop often, not only to catch my breath from the steep climbs, but to admire the beautiful landscape unfolding on all sides. It was a lovely, cool, windy day, perfect for the long hike over the ridge of the Pyrenees, which I had feared would be more than I could handle. It was exhausting, don´t get me wrong, but not as bad as I had feared, and the cool breeze helped a lot! I walked past herds of sheep, pastures with cattle and horses, and it was so green and lush, and the views went on for miles - just breathtaking! As soon as I have the chance I will add photos, so you can see for yourself!
Along the way I ate the hearty bocadillo I had picked up in the morning from the auberge and it tasted delicious - dried jamon (ham) and french cheese on a big, freshly-baked baguette - which would prove to be the standard lunch for most of the Camino.
After about 3 hours I reached the summit, and then the path went steeply down - very steeply, and quite rocky was the path, so I took it really slow, I could feel it was a heavy load for my knees, and I certainly did not want to slip and injure myself!
It went through lovely beech woods, and at one point I passed a bunch of people, some dressed up in old costumes from the days of the temple knights, and as I passed an ox team pulling a wagon with wooden wheels I realized I had walked right on to a movie set. I found out that they were filming a documentary about the Song Of Roland, which took place in these very mountains and woods right above Roncesvalles. I passed a pack of 4 wolves, and that´s were I got my information - a girl was watching the wolves, and she spoke English well, so I could get the story.
Soon I was out of the woods, and there in front of me was the monestary and church buildings of Roncesvalles - I had made it over the Pyrenees in one piece, and it was only about 1:45 PM - much quicker than I had tought! I even had a chance to get my bunk assignment in the big old monestary building that would house well over 100 tired pilgrims who had made the very same journey I had! Happy to have a bed secured I walked over to one of the outside cafes and had a drink with my fellow pelegrinos to celebrate!

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