Camino Diary Entry #4

(Emails home from the Camino Adventure)
#4 Passport a priority in St Jean Pied de Port (31 May 2012)

St Jean Pied de Port

St Jean Pied de Port

It goes without saying, that when you have already paid and
breakfast is included, we found ourselves back in the company of ‘Mrs Grumpy from the kitchen’ early the next day. Mrs G’s luck was in as we just couldn’t eat as much this time and were in a hurry to be ready for our taxi to France.
Suprisingly punctual, our driver arrived and with some difficulty heaved our cases into the back of his very comfortable Mercedes people mover. There was a dramatic change in temperature as we drove up through the fog-clad Pyrenees until an hour and a half later we were descending the French side and into the small town of St Jean Pied de Port.
We were duly delivered to the Hotel Continental which being the middle of the day was of course closed!! Once the old high school French was dusted off things were quickly sorted and we were shown to our room to sort our gear as the sun started to break through the grey skies and the temperature rose.
St Jean Pied de Port is a very pretty medieval town with a population of 1600 people. Gwyneth was resistant to climbing and exploring the ancient walls – based on the need to preserve all climbing muscles for tomorrow ! And rightly so!
We queued up for opening time at the Pilgrim office and paid our 2€ for a Pilgrims Passport (also known as Credential ).For a small fee they issued Donald (my ever faithful teddy bear and travel companion) his own passport and we all blew on the ink to dry the first passport stamp of our Pilgrimage.
For a further donation we each selected our essential scallop shell  to dangle from our back packs. The shell being the symbol of Pilgrims who survived to return to their home countries in medieval times and prove they had been to the edge of the world. We proudly headed off along with a fistful of papers and instructions – goody, more paper to carry!Donald's first Credential stamp
It seemed appropriate to stop for a wine on the way back as we made our first real effort at ‘new best pilgrim friend ‘. Veronica is from Canada, aged in her 20’s and a waitress from Calgary.Complete with multiple tattoos she has arrived on her own and is looking for a spiritual experience. Boldly, Veronica has left home with neither make up nor cell phone – now that in itself takes courage.
When we were asked as to our own motivation we had to confess it was more of an impulsive decision after a couple of wines and from there planning continued in anticipation that on The Way we would experience a few more wines!
Hoping to lighten our heavy baggage we adjourned to our by now intensely sunny balcony and dealt to our respective remaining supplies of gin and brandy. That along with some leftover potato chips from Spain and a small can of tinned salmon we each transported from NZ we called it lunch!
It is almost too embarrassing to admit we then dined out alfresco, just a couple of hours later!
By now Gwyneth has tired of my fiddling with the technology and gone to sleep.
Tomorrow’s climb is a little daunting but we are pleased to be that much closer to having it behind us! We have been well forewarned that this will be our toughest day of all. Bags are re-packed, water bottles loaded and now I too will get to bed. And so from France, aurevoir!

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