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POSTCARD FROM FRANCE   #8

 

June 16 - Saint Jean de Luz - Rain again this summer at Plum Village, thunderstorm sent everyone indoors. Last year a strike hit the Tea House, split a rafter, shocking a patron. Friend Carlos - psychologist & practicing Buddhist working in HIV support in San Juan, Puerto Rico - was walking part of the Camino de Santiago so I used that as an excuse to drive us both to St Jean Pied-de-Port.

Tea House, PV

Pilgrims’ bridge, River Nive, StJPdP

Carlos ready to go, in StJpdP 

Carlos trekked towards Santiago de Compostela. After 3 days in StJPdP, I shopped the local market, drove same route to Pamplona.

Could find these faces in Eugene

Happy growing healthy food

What do you think, father/daughter? 

Rte 933 to the top was twisty & steep, like McKenzie Pass except it’s a main highway with big trucks coming at you and Pilgrims beside the road. At the top, a monument to Roland, St James and a church. Cows & sheep grazing the Basque summer pastures.

St James above the Porte d’Espagne

Monument to Roland 778

Ibaneta - first refuge along the way.

Where you came from, StJPdP way below

Roland stella at the summit

Where you’re going, Pamplona way beyond

Basques maintain ancient pasture customs

Dolmens appeared ~3000 b.c. in such pastures

Several options from here, follow the shell

The first leg is the steepest of the hike, winding & narrow. At Roncesvalles monastery I stopped for a tribute drink to my dear friend Demetra who started her walk from here. The Song of Roland is from a famous battle here in 778. The French version has betrayal and the Moors doing in Roland’s men, martyring him. The Basque version is Charlemagne was run out of Pamplona by the Moors and the Basques jumped on Roland’s rear guard as they retreated over this steep, narrow pass. 200 years in monk’s hands embellished it.

About 100 yr later, a peasant reported a column of light rising out of a field in NW Spain, revealing where St James’ bones were said to be buried, thus beginning the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela: atonement for sinners and the expense of so much shoe leather ever since.

A bunch to go!

Inspired some beautiful churches

Peddling’s another way

My Pamplona visit was brief, continued on to the Cote de Basque and the ancient fishing village St John de Luz. It stormed like crazy for one day then cleared for a day, then rained again. Summer is supposed to be starting… a lot of wet tourists.

Around St.Jean de Luz  

and

the Cathedral in Bayonne

Covered the Basque Museum in Bayonne, found good books in a large Basque publisher/bookstore nearby, too heavy to carry. Headed back to see a house near Plum Village. 
 
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