July 28, 2017 St. Jean Pied de Porte
“Not sure what everyone’s pace will be. Not sure how this will work. Not really even sure where I’m headed. Will have to keep the guidebook handy. I’m not partial to one route or the other, so I just hope it’s clear on what route I should take.“
It was a perfect first night in my first hostel: Beilari. Lovely hosts and a delightful dinner of wine for toasting, minestrone soup, a hardy salad, a quiche-type pizza, and a cream pudding dessert.
As I settled in for the night, I reflected on the past few days. Reviewing the packing list with my sister. Tearfully saying goodbye to my husband at the Chicago airport. Dragging my newly acquired 20-something-pound companion through O’Hare, then Dublin, then the UK, before landing in Biarritz, France. (I hated to part with it and hoped to bring it carryon through every airport, but alas — eventually they took it from me.)
I’d easily found my airport van but hadn’t been quite as lucky in finding my hostel. Dropped off in the town center, I wandered a bit as it started to rain, asking for directions to my hostel but discovering I was actually running into other tourists (European) who were as little familiar with the area as I was. I began to have flashbacks of my Rick Steve’s trip years ago, mournfully wandering up and down a street in Paris, face buried deep in a translation book as I tried to find the words to get a bite to eat. But — finally, I did find Beilari, settled in a bit, and took a looong nap. (Slept pretty much none in the airports and hoped I could seamlessly slip into this 7-hour-ahead time zone.)
I was thrilled to have international dinner mates, including a Scot who had decided on this trip many, many years ago and a sweet Canadian (also my roomie!), near my age, who would later the next day reveal a beautiful rose tattoo on her leg (the first sign of St. Therese along a way of many roses!)
However, little did I know, I would never see either of those two again on that Camino.
To be continued. . .