Day 34 Aroue
Breakfast was a needed break from the routine. Having purchased some food last night, we treated ourselves to Cantaloupe, boiled eggs and a pastry. We walked the first part of the day without the company of other pilgrims, which we enjoy because we can do some bible reading and reflection. But by mid morning, there were quite a few pilgrims sharing the route with us. We connected with Claire and she seemed like she wanted company for a while.
Claire has been on the way with us since almost the beginning and she is going all the way to Santiago. She struggles with English but really wants to connect with us. We found out more about her today. She has been a religious instructor to children as well as training volunteers to teach religion to children. She quit her work of twelve years to evaluate her direction. She is frustrated with the church bureaucracy and the lack of interest in taking religious knowledge from the head to the heart. Needless to say we were thrilled to talk to her, but our communication barrier was cumbersome.
By lunch the pilgrim horde was overheated and hungry. There was an excellent rest stop in the shade and about a dozen pilgrims gathered to eat their lunch. We met several we knew and before long, we were walking with Jan and an elderly British couple. The afternoon got really hot and muggy and we were happy to find our gite open early. The couple running the gite both speak English and lean more towards the loosey goosey side. Being a converted school, the gite is quite Spartan and we shared a bunk room with another woman.
Our host gave the group a nice tour of the town and church. We are learning a lot about the Basque people and their traditions. We visited a Basque pelota court which is a sport played with a ball, hands and a clumsy racket, and 3 walls to bounce off. It was also interesting to hear some of the Basque Catholicism practices. An arch in the church is from the fourth century. The pilgrim clientele has quite clearly advanced in age this week as vacation time has ended for most people.