Day Twenty Four

I woke… It was dark outside… It’s just not right getting up when it’s still dark. Not unless your a farmer, postman or milkman?!!
At quarter past six I dragged myself out of bed for the one simple reason. I need the loo.
Last night I’m not sure if I mentioned, I saw a deer outside our hotel and also, a hoopoe (it’s a bird). My dad always taught me if you don’t know something look it up. Back then it was in a book, these days we have google & wikapedia. So go on and look it up HOOPOE…!
Anyway, by quarter to seven I was outside with the others waiting for a lift back to Nogaro, for breakfast and to begin our day. (The only reason I’m eating breakfast is because I was charged for it). I have far better things to do with my time than sit and eat… I have nearly 30km to walk today!
Despite knowing Michael (he’s a French Canadian pilot) walks faster than me, I wait for him and the French couple whose names always escape me (sorry)?! We set off together. As we leave Nogaro, there are once again pilgrims in front and behind us.
Soon Michael and I have a pace going, we chat about this and that whilst striding along road and green lane. We are still in agricultural countryside so the vistas are very, erm, ordinary? Before we realise, Michael’s gps tells us we’ve walked 10km, in two hours. As the day heats up, we turn this way and that following our red and white way markers.
I hear a sound from the hedgerow, explaining to Michael that its a snake rather than lizards as the noise and movement of undergrowth continues for some time. We then talk wildlife for some time.
At 11.30 we stop in a village not even mentioned in my cicerone guide! We’re met by a dozen other pilgrims sitting and eating, taking a break in the shadows of some well placed trees.
Maybe half an hour passes and we’re off again. We’ve had a bite to eat (this eating sensibly is becoming a habit)… A sign tells us we’re over half way. We continue, along straight lanes barricaded with produce growing either side. A plane flys overhead so our conversation turns to Michael’s job and other aviation related topics.
I then spot a hoopoe, (yes another one) up ahead just off the road. I point it out to Michael, despite not having my glasses. As we get closer, it’s crest is clearly visibly, before it takes flight, displaying it’s black and white stripped wings.
We enter Barcelonne-du-Gers, thinking it’s Aire-sur-l’Adour. Soon enough the realisation hits us, it’s only another 2km to Aire-sur-l’Adour but now my feet are tired.
As we enter the town, we come across Michael’s hotel so we head are own ways. As I continue on into the town I bump into Raymond & Slyvie, two more pilgrims I’ve met along the way. I join them to check out the pilgrims gite, it has 90 beds but it’s full, (no bed for me because I’m stubborn and refuse to reserve a bed?!!)
I walk back into town, I passed a hotel on the way to the gite and I remember my book said they have a special rate for pilgrims…score they have room.
I clean up and head into town. I find spare ends for my crook, (the rubber went and now I’ve almost worn all the metal away), I buy two. I get a hair cut, (yes yes even with the small amount that I have). I bump into probably twenty pilgrims I know around town. In the tourist information I bump into Marcus. I recommend the hotel I’m in, he gets a room. I’ve heard very funny stories about Marcus sleeping rough one night and meeting wild boar! Later on several of us go for a beer, the town is pretty and the weather has been good to us.
Reports are coming in that the weather is going to turn and that tomorrow’s destination is also fully booked….
Today the road has been kind to me, I’ve had good company all day, fine weather, and conversation to distract me.

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About waytosantiago

The way of St. James is one of the three largest Christian pilgrimages of the world. I intend to walk one of the many routes which begins in le Puy en Velay, France. The route has been trodden by many weary souls, looking for answers, looking for adventure, for the obvious religious reasons, or just walked for the sake of it. I first came across the route about 6 years ago whilst reading Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Pilgrimage’, I decided maybe something could be learnt from spending so much time on the road in solitude. Being the kind of person that lives to work, these ideas were put on hold whilst my life moved steadily forward. Recently I’ve found myself longing for adventure and decided it was time to begin planning. Another thing I decided was if I was going to do this, I may as well try and raise money for charity along the way. So the story begins...
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