The Pyrenean Traverse, Day 13: “Rest” day

Today we only have to walk 10 miles. So that could almost be considered a rest day. On the road below the dilapidated hotel where we spent the night we join the GR78. We will follow that trail during the coming days until enough snow has melted in the mountains. And it appears that they have already started with that up there, looking at the swirling water in the river. Due to the unusually big amount of melting water, the river bursts its banks.

We continue on an almost flat path. When we walk through a village, we see that the baker is on his round with his small van. We choose a crusty bread from his packed trunk.

Just before noon we stop at a picnic area with benches and a play ground for children. We decide to have lunch. Soon we will be in the bustle of Lourdes, and here it is still very quiet. While I nibble my fresh baguette I suddenly notice that a processionary caterpillar has made himself comfortable on my lap. Fortunately, I am wearing long pants. I quickly shoot it away with my finger and check if there are any other caterpillars.

We sit on our picnic bench for a long time. We both seem to want to postpone our entry into Lourdes. We prefer to stay in this last peaceful bit of nature. But when a second processionary caterpillar begins its procession towards my lap, we decide to continue our way.

Half an hour later we arrive at the pilgrimage site of Lourdes. A woman comes out of the cathedral and is visibly emotional about something. While we ask ourselves questions about the countless bottles of so-called supernatural and healing water that are sold here in the shops, we see thousands of nuns having the best time of their lives.

Wim buys the missing hiking maps in a bookstore. At the edge of the village is a campsite where we can finally wash ourselves and our clothes again. From two Germans who are camping with their caravan we get two chairs and a folding table, which we are only too happy to use. When we want to crawl into the tent for a good night’s rest we put our borrowed furniture neatly in front of their caravan again. Wim puts a bottle of beer on the table for the Germans and I add a note with a few kind words. How happy a hiker can be with just a simple chair …

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