Day 2 – 18th September 2015, St. Jean Pied de Port.
Some hours and a few squeaky bunk bed noises with flashes of automatic security lighting later, I awoke before the sun came up and went downstairs for breakfast – baguette and jam and a coffee machine which liked to take money but dribbled out a third of a cup of coffee. I looked forward to a day exploring the picturesque town. I ambled down to the church – Notre Dame du Bout du Pont. The streets were quiet, mist was rising and all I could hear was the click, clack, click of trekking poles on the cobbles from the few early bird pilgrims making there way up the Rue D’Espagne.
I entered the church and went up to the side chapel to light candles for my mum, my dad (both had left this life), my Auntie Josie (very much alive and kicking) and Brett. I sat in peace for a while and contemplated the journey ahead, thinking about the thousands of pilgrims who had gone before me and had come into the church for a blessing as they started their pilgrimage. It is a ritual that connects past, present and future and I felt that I was encountering a ‘thin place’, where the veil between physical and spiritual realms is narrow, almost translucent.
Afterwards I walked up the steep Rue de Citadel to the pilgrims office to get my pilgrim’s passport officially stamped and bumped into Janey, one of my bus buddies. We went in search of good coffee and sat out on the pavement in the early morning sunshine, sharing about what brought us to this point. Then we popped into Lidl to buy some fruit for the walk and some lunch and we hiked up to the citadel where we sat and ate it overlooking the remarkable views over St. Jean. It was a wonderful moment of friendship and camaraderie that I was coming to realise this pilgrimage would bring.
A short while later, we parted company and I met up with my good friend Alan who had flown in from Sweden. We would walk some of the way together. We went in search of good coffee then ambled around the town, seeing the sites, absorbing the views and the atmosphere. Another pilgrim meal came round quite quickly so we chatted with three other people until it was time to sleep.
…..to be continued….
Peace, love and light,