Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day B -- Arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port

Today had a very early start. I was up at five to catch the metro so I could catch my seven am train to Bayonne, and from Bayonne I caught a bus to St. Jean Pied de Port. It all went so fast (probably because I was sleeping) and before I knew it I was in St. Jean. 

St. Jean Pied de Port is so pretty ... and completely built into a hill (practicing for those mountains every step of the way!) The first thing I did when I got off the bus is went to the Pilgrim's Office and registered. I got my first stamp and received my sea shell -- this trip just got real. At the office they asked me if I had a bed (of course I did not) and they promptly assigned me to one just up the road. I dropped off my pack and set out to find the church. Notre Dame Cathedral was at the bottom of the hill -- I went inside and was overwhelmed by the quiet and age inside. I could sense the presence of all the pilgrims that have gone before me. I made my way up to the front to a plethora of candles all burning at different heights in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. I said a rosary and prayed for a safe trip as well as those at home. I then lit a candle that is supposed to burn for forty days, well past my time on the Camino. 

After I left the church, I explored the town a little, finding a sandwich shop and getting food for dinner. I took it back to my hostel and ate with fellow pilgrims: Suzzane and Christian from Germany, Christie from South Africa, Mario from Italy, Hu-Yong from Korea and a few more whose names I didn't catch, including a lovely couple from Colombia, South America. After we had eaten, Hu-Yong told us not to go anywhere and reappeared with a huge camera complete with tripod. If the sight of him setting up his camera didn't double us over with laughter, his grabbing people two by two and posing them in ridiculous poses did. Laughter is for sure the universal language, and we got a healthy dose of it tonight. I can't wait until he sends us the photos so you can all see Suzanne and I making a heart. haha 

And now I am showered and tucked into my bed, exhausted and knowing tomorrow is the longest and hardest day. Say an extra prayer for strong feet, strong knees, strong legs, and most importantly, a strong spirit. 

A few pictures: 

Five am selfie in the metro station!! Also: this is what my hair looks like if I don't dry it and sleep on it wet ... so expect this look from now on. 

Just hanging out in Bayonnne, waiting for my bus and enjoying some fresh air before I have to get back on public transit. 

Passport Office!! 

My first stamp!!!! 

Praying before I set out -- my candle is in there now, too! 

Hu-Yong demonstrating the pose ... 

And Christie and Christian being good sports about it!! (Note: this is how all of our photos were taken.) 

And my bed for the night. 

Buen Camino. 


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