La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Étape 36: Belorado - San Juan de Ortega, 24 kms, Rain and A Little Snow, 4

Montes de Oca

It was forecast and the forecast was accurate. A rain day. Though I really can’t complain. Thirty six days of walking and just 2.5 days of rain. In 2013 we experienced 12 days of rain on this same Frances crossing, more than a third of our 33 walking days. 

Last night I didn’t meet anyone to share dinner with and faced by the prospect of eating another pilgrim meal alone, I went into the small grocery store and found some tinned fish, crackers, yogurt and a beer. I then connected with our daughter Caitlin who was eating a late breakfast at home before her shift at the hospital. Much better and nice to have someone to interact with. Thanks Caitlin!

It rained much of the night and was still raining at 6:00 when I began to hear others getting up and preparing to walk. I thought to myself that the sun won’t surface until 8:40 so there was no point in getting up and walking in the dark wet. After all, there wasn’t going to be a sunrise this morning to enjoy. So I snuggled back under my blanket and waited until about 7:15, all the while the rain continued to fall. I ate the bit of food I had with me and finally at 8:40 I ventured out. It was cool, but not as cold as I’d expected it to be. 

I might have been amoung the last out of Belorado, but I soon started to catch up to others. This group of 6 are from Barcelona (actually a group of 9) and one of their group, Georgie, had spoken with me last night quite passionately about the Catalonian political uprising that’s has recently occurred. He was angry that the Spanish government simply refused discussions and shut down the whole process. We went back and forth on the issues, and he seemed pretty well informed and was surprised that I was aware of it. Good for you, BBC! 

It was a pretty dreary day as we walked along the N120 again. I decided to plug some tunes in and just coast along. My wet gear was effective and it was just a matter of 4-5 hours and I’d be in and dry again. 

The rain was steady, but it came down pretty intensely at times.

Hey Annemarie. Do you remember sitting in a top floor window with me and watching a wedding celebration in the church to my left? We were with the Irish couple Tom and somehow I can’t remember his wife’s name. Tom was a retired firemen who was walking to remember all the people he couldn’t save from house fires. Really nice company and his lode stone was a yellow rubber duck! This is Villafranca, and from here begins the climb into the Montes de Oca. 

It really is a bit of a grunt up the hillsides in wet gear, but I did catch up to John and a very nice fellow, Kim from Korea who bows to me every time we meet. Many recollections of walking in Japan when he does as when each Henro meets initially there is a small bow. A nice custom that I enjoyed. 

There was clear evidence that I was right to stay in bed longer. It must have rained heavily before I arrived as the boot prints became deeper as I went. Clearly at some point folks weren’t trying very hard to mitss the mud any more. When I crossed over it was raining less and I could better select my footing, but the early folks must have found it tough going.

It led me to ask myself why it always seems to rain heavily on this particular crossing. It rained here in 2013 and I remember quite the muddy mess then as well. I figure that it’s the orographic lift as the clouds cross the Meseta, now just a day ahead. 

At the summit it actually started to snow! Just shy of 1200 metres I was surprised to see this today, but I’ll admit that the air was cool and I could see my breath at noon. This is the only photo that shows any snow falling, but it was interesting. 

Looking back towards John and Kim and a Spanish fellow I’d met along the way who was a pretty strong walker. Yup, not the best day for photography.

I came to an interesting Camino spot that I didn’t remember from 2013. I think a bit of a rest sanctuary.

We descended quite steady from there.

And finally arrived. And found a tour group who were happily leaving the bar which was nice and quiet while I ate some well deserved lunch.

Of course the sun came out just after arriving. Never fails!

I stepped into the bar for a late lunch and sat beside Pierre who is from Montreal and a fellow from Brisbane whose name I missed. We discussed walking and I guess Pierre had heard about our walk for Alzheimer’s and was interested because his 89 year old mother has the disease. She was diagnosed about 5-7 years ago and Pierre and his brother have provided as much care as they can. She has been taking the same drug that Kathy is and it has slowed progression for now. One of Pierre’s more interesting comments paralleled an area that Kathy and Annemarie discussed during our walk together, and that’s living in the present moment. His mother remembers things from the past, but her short term memory has been effected so she lives for today and for the moment. Sadly Pierre and his brother had to place their mother into care this past year as there were concerns that she wouldn’t take her meds and some relief that help would be close at hand if needed. There was of course some guilt in the decision, but they know it’s the correct one. At times his mother questions why she’s there, but they gently tell her that she’s lived there for a very long time and that settles her nicely. Pierre is concerned that at 49 he is forgetting short term things as well. His doctors have assessed him and assure him that he doesn’t have have early onset Alzheimer’s as he’s having no problems remembering any work related details. So he knows that he has to work on accepting their assessment and move forward. But it must be difficult for him knowing his mother’s situation. It would of course work in the back of your mind. Thanks Pierre for letting me share your story. I hope I got it right! 

I liked this little reminder today! It got me thinking as I walked through the rain:)

Buen Camino!

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