Day 4 – l’Hopital St Marie

Morning arrives early in these dormitories as you are expected to depart by 8 AM. Given that I barely slept for some reason, not the least of which was the cacophony of snores, I felt surprisingly refreshed when I got up.

My roommates were kind enough to let me know that where we were heading this evening would have no food, so I should prepare. Once again the Camino was looking out for my interests. As I was heading through town I happened to notice what appeared to be the local grocery store. Two women from the same alburge arrived at the same time. So I followed them in to buy some food. These two angels, An & Meike, thankfully adopted me. They suggested we buy supplies for a shared dinner. Upon leaving the store we headed off in the opposite direction I had been walking. My new friends were indeed my guiding angels.

They were friends from the Netherlands who had met a few years ago while volunteering at an alburge on the Camino Francais and were experienced hikers. They too started in Lourdes and will continue to Roncevelos where they will spend two weeks volunteering in an albergue as hospitaleros.

Today was a very rich day. So full I can’t begin to describe. It was the real beginning of my spiritual Camino. When we took our first break An insisted on sharing an apple. This simple act brought on a bout of spontaneous crying. Freely sharing is the true undercurrent of the Camino.

The weather was perfect, cool and dry. Every local we encounter was friendly and supportive. Even the two British couples who came by on bikes. They stopped and walked with us for a bit. I was surprised to learn that they were Jehovah witness and the ladies had been spreading the message to my new friends.

We came across a small shop which was open so we stopped for a rest and coffee. The shopkeeper was thrilled to have pilgrims coming by. We took photos together at her request and she ask that we pray for her.

The early part of the day was easy walking through large fields. However the afternoon was a different story. The terrain became hilly and the trails very wet. It was difficult to tell if it had rained here earlier or if the water was from mountain springs. In any case it made the going slow. It was so slippery that An went down for a hard fall.

Upon arriving in town the procedure is to first visit Marie. This is the town hall and Mayors office. Here you get your pilgrim credential stamped and the key to the albergue which, in this case, was a modern free standing building nearby. It contained four sets of bunks and we were greeted by my French dorm mates from the previous night. We were soon joined by an English couple, now living in France, making it a full house.

Mika made a wonderful meal from the provisions we had purchased.

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