A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Four Stone Crosses

It was only 90 more km to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the gateway to the Pyrenees. I walked this in 3 days, passing through many Basque villages with strange sounding names - Quinquilemia, Uruxondoa, Larribar-Sorhapuru, Uhart-Mixe, Ostabat-Asme... The photos were taken at the church in Gamarthe.

The fields were full of docile, pale-coloured Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle. These are big and hardy beasts, the 3rd largest breed in France after the Limousin and the Charolais.

I arrived at an important crossing of Roman roads marked by the Croix de Galzeteburia, where several pilgrim paths merged with my own route from Le Puy, the Via Podensis. On one side of this ancient stone cross was carved the figure of Christ, on the other was the Virgin and Child.

As I drew nearer the mountains, the weather became wetter and more changeable.

On 14 November, the day after my birthday, I finally reached Saint-Jean. It had taken 29 days to get there. Imminent was the Pyrenean crossing I'd been looking forward to so much, and there was talk of snow...

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