OSSERAIN-RIVAREYTE  –  OSTABAT-ASME

Paint the green leaves too and the wind’s coolness

The dust in the sunlight

The sound of insects, in the grass, in the summer heat

Then wait for the bird to choose to sing

If the bird won’t sing

That’s an adverse sign

A sign that the painting is bad…….

                                                                                          Jaques Prévert

 

 

Dense fog covered the village when I left that morning. Shortly after leaving Osserain, I came to an ancient stone marking the border between Béarn and the once independent kingdom of Navarre. With that, I entered the Land of the Basque. The Basque language is very unusual because it does not have any similarities with an Aryan language. Of the seven Basque regions, three are located in France.

 

 

 

Border stone between Béarn and Navarre

Border stone between Béarn and Navarre

 

 

The fog had cast a great stillness over the country. Every spider web was covered with tiny pearls of water.

 

 

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The Basque houses have a very distinctive appearance. The color maroon can be seen on many wooden elements outside of the house. Men like to wear the Basque hat.

 

 

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Basque man mowing the grass with a scythe

Basque man mowing the grass with a scythe

 

 

A few days before I arrived at the town of Saint-Palais, in Basque called Donapaleu, severe thunderstorms caused a lot of destruction. Some parts of a road were completely washed away. It had not rained so much for 150 years.

 

 

Town Saint - Palais (Donapaleu)

Town Saint – Palais (Donapaleu)

 

 

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Shortly after the town Saint-Palais, a stele is marking the meeting of three pilgrimage ways to Sandiago de Compostela. The stele is called Stele of Gibraltar and refers to the Basque name “Chibaltarem”, which means “to meet.”   The Via Lemovicensis meets with the way from Puy-en-Velay (Via Podiensis) and the way from Tour (Via Tourensis). The stele is made in the form of a Basque tombstone.

 

 

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Chapelle de Soyarce surrounded by trees

Chapelle de Soyarce surrounded by trees

 

 

From there, a steep road is leading up to a chapel on the top of the hill – Chapelle de Soyarce. Some pilgrims rested under the shade of the trees. Also Luni and Mathilda were there. They hitchhiked some of the way. It was very nice to see them again. Up high in the sky, uncountable large vultures were circling the area.  The view to the Pyreneans was breathtaking.

 

 

 

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From farther away, the villages look like villages in the Austrian Alps. Since Saint-Sever, I did not have to make reservations anymore. Like on the Camino in Spain, it was on a first come first served basis. There were a lot of pilgrims in Ostabat-Asme, a town with 230 inhabitants. In former times, it was a big pilgrim’s center with sometimes 5,000 pilgrims staying overnight. In the restaurant beside the church, I met Berit, a woman from Germany. We decided to walk together to a farm one mile outside of the village and stay overnight there.

 

 

 

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The farm Gaineko Extea has 50 beds, but this day, only a Belgium and a Dutch couple and Berit and I were staying there. The farm provided very comfortable rooms, each with a balcony. Besides a delicious meal, we also got a music performance. Bernard (I have forgotten his Basque name) was singing Basque songs for us.

 

 

 

Bernard, the Basque hospitaliér, singing Basque songs

 

Bernard, the Basque hospitaliér, singing Basque songsIn the evening, I got a text message from Emeline. She had heard that I arrived in Ostabat and suggested we meet in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. I was overjoyed to be able to see her again.