Arrival in Saint Jean

I stumbled into a foggy Saint Jean Pied de Port half asleep from the winding bus journey through the French Pyrenees mountains. Edinburgh had fulfilled its yearly obligation to give me the latest possible exam and after the standard rapid 48 hour turnaround I had landed in this strange, small French town close to the Spanish border.

Fifty pilgrims were searching for the respective raincoats and ponchos and realising that most of us were going to be heading to the same solitary pilgrims office, I decided to lead the way up the hill. The queue to get the pilgrim credentials was already twenty deep while the hostels and albergues, that lined the steep rue de la citadel, all had signs outside stating their respective lack of capacity. A door opened and a bustling Frenchman exchanged the ´no space left´ sign to a ´2 beds available´, needing no further motivation with the rain starting to turn into a menacing downpour, I stepped inside.

It was a perfect start. The owner of the albergue was hosting an welcome ceremony just as I walked through the door. Over various glasses of port and wine (free wine is included in every ´menu del peregrino´) all the travellers introduced themselves, talked a little about their background and some of their motivation in wanting to complete the camino. The people ranged from ages 19 - 60+ walking in groups of 1 to 4. This variety coupled with the diversity in nationalities give the camino so much depth.

Italian walkers have been a blessing as I have been able to practicar mi Italiano for 20 minutes+ each day. My A level Spanish is also being slowly revived. Grammar is the main issue with most of my sentences being a collection of words stringed together. Meaning is more or less translated thankfully and today I enjoyed a 10km section with 3 Basque walkers from Navarra. Football and politics were the topics of choice.

I am relying on the albergues having a free computer to write on here so it might be a while till I next get a chance. I love this new way of life I have find myself in. I sleep 11pm-6am, meet people from all around the world in the day and read and write in the evening.

The occasional picture might work its way onto here if you are interested. The scenery over the last 3 days has been epic, changing from misty mountains at the start to far stretching golden corn fields that I found past Pamplona today. I have a huge 44km+ walk tomorrow with my goal of reaching Burgos next Tuesday still on target. Then I am having a short break with some friends from Edinburgh before hopefully reaching Santiago within a couple of weeks.

Hasta Pronto,
TJP