"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
- L. Tsu
Here we are, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Our shoes are bright. Our packs are neat. Our clothes are clean. We are washed and excited and ready to walk. The thing to do is begin. Take a step. Then take another.
You're about to start your pilgrimage. You're embarking on a spiritual journey, of sorts. You can bring along a friend. I suggest you do. But this walk is yours and yours alone. You may encounter hardship - you will. You may run into less-than-helpful people - you will. You may get kicked out of breakfast - let's hope not.
Diary Entry - 16 April, 2015
Day one of my pilgrimage and I've offended the French. Well … one bat-shit-crazy French woman.
I wake early. This is an unforgivable sin. In French - angry, aggressive French - our host scoffed, gestured, posed, mocked, and - I'm totally making assumptions here – berated me. Not knowing French, I had to use context and attempt to decipher her gestures, which were pretty easy to understand. She kept showing me seven fingers and shaking her head and saying, “incredible.” Only, she used the French disgusted tense. It was 6:30, the hour when only ugly Americans have the gall to ask for a simple cup of coffee.
She gave me my cup. She made me sit at the table – no outside, early morning cup-o-joe allowed. When the other pilgrims - respectful, late sleeping pilgrims who know when to ask for coffee - arrived for their petite dejuner, I walked into the hall to tell Kim that it's possible that I may have, inadvertently, possibly, unwittingly, made a faux pas. Kim touched my arm and said, “I'm sure it's no big deal.”
Boy was she wrong. When we walked back in for our first pilgrim meal of our 800 km journey. My seating had been removed and I was told (I think – actually I'm certain) that there was no breakfast for me. “Out.” She said and pointed to the door.
- B. S. Crazy
Being a quick study in foreign relations, I gathered my things and walked out into the dark street and began to laugh. Kim ate her day old toast and jam in silence. Our battle axe of a host regaled the more respectful pilgrims, with a lecture in respect and proper behavior, me offered up as the day’s object lesson for the group. It was such an absurd episode, all I could do was laugh.
When Kim came out with her pack, she apologized. We giggled. We started walking.
The Way out of St. Jean Pied de Port is steep. It's very steep. It's steep for 18 kilometers. There are moments of level, but by and large, it’s up, up, and up. Then around the 18 km mark it is steep in the other direction. Down, down, and down.
Then … after 26 kilometers across the Pyrenees, the small monastery hamlet of Roncesvalles comes into view offering a clean bed and pilgrim’s meal and hot showers. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to eat breakfast.