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A Stop on The Way of St. James

It’s our last day at the villa, and we decide to make the most of it. Some morning sunshine gives Charlie and Mike a chance to drive to the top of the mountain and look back down on us. After a group breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried buns, and Nutella, we strike out for France and the city of St. Jean Pied de Port, a stop along The Way of St. James. Our plan was to relax in the morning so that by the time we left for town, things would be open (unlike all of the other days on our trip).

The Way of St. James, also called El Camino de Santiago, is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried. St. Jean Pied de Port is filled with pilgrims, carrying walking sticks and backpacks.

We explore the town, poking into various shops containing Basque souvenirs, pepper and spices, original art, and traditional Basque textiles. Throughout is the presence of the shell, which is the symbol of The Way as it was customary for pilgrims to pick up shells along the shore as proof they had made the walk. Also apparent are “refuges,” which are sleeping spots for pilgrims. All of them are marked “complet,” or full. Too bad for sore feet. We take a quick tour of the ancient prison.

Hungry, we shop for a place to eat. Since this is our last night at the villa, we plan to eat big in town instead of buying groceries to bring home and be transformed into leftovers. But guess what? The restaurants are closed. We find one on a busy corner, and despite the fact they are unwilling to serve us anything but yesterday’s leftovers until 6:30 (it’s 5:30), we decide to stay. Our waiter is bossy and tells us what to order. We comply and pretend that it’s good.

As evening rolls in, we decide it’s best to get home before dark. Liz, Mike, Jim and Jane L decide to drive up to the top of the mountain and look down on the villa and the ocean. The hills are so steep it makes Liz remember her dream from last night, in which a cow grazing on the steep hill loses its footing, rolls downhill, and lands on the car.

We hear the sounds of the music festival in Hondaribbia floating all the way up to the top of the mountain. Cold and finished, we head back to the villa for the last of the wine. Life, as always, is good.

St. Jean Pied de Port

 

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A Stop On The Way Of St. James

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2 comments so far

  1. liz
    #1

    This one’s for Linda

  2. Linda Harvey
    #2

    So pretty…

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