The Pyrenes are no longer a thin pencil line. They are a constant presence on Le Chemin de St Jacques.
I am now officially in Basque country.
First, the signs are all in French and Basque.
The other historic languages, Occidan and Bearnaise, had deep Latin roots. Basque isn’t related to any other language, as far as they could tell. It’s full of hard consonants like J, X, and Z. It could use a few more vowels. From an outsider’s perspective, it has the same characteristics as Finnish, though it’s not related to that language either.
The houses all look alike, with their peak roofs and dark red shutters. And for some reason, the church are closed to visitors. Where before, every church of every size was open, the ones I passed the last two days have been locked. It does speed up the hike.
Today I had my first dog incident, reminiscent of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina. Until today, every dog has been a sweet, docile animal or was safely behind a fence. Thank you, all. But today, as I rounded a corner between two farms, on a very public path, four dogs chased me, barked and bared their teeth. I shouted loud and continuously, in the hope that an owner would come and save me. Finally, a guy from one of the farms came around in his car and broke up the dog “party”.
I am getting close to the end of my adventure. Today I passed the Stele de Gilbratar, a spot where three pilgrim paths come together and follow the same route to St. Jean Pied de Port.
I bumped into a Cousinade in the hotel where I’m having a coffee. Over 90 cousins and extended family gather once a year to eat, drink and catch up with each other. It is now past 5:30 pm and this has been going on since noon. By now, they’ve had their desserts and coffee and ordering after meal drinks.
What amazes me are the children. They’ve been sitting quietly playing with their toys and action figures. No one would think of providing special entertainment for them.
When they found out that I was an American on Le Chemin, the kissing and hugging started.