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Day 32: The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Yesterday many of the friends we have made continued their journeys toward Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, the start of the Camino Frances through Spain and probably the most famous camino starting point. Many arrived there today. We, however, turned north toward Saint Palais to take a more direct route to the Camino del Norte.

We walked the Camino Frances in 2016 (the same route as in the movie The Way and the documentary Six Ways to Santiago) so this time wanted to try a different route. We are going to walk the route across the northern coast of Spain. To get there we opted to take a more direct route, not as well marked or known, which adds some uncertainty. No more guidebooks. We’re making do with some PDF documents (originally in Italian) and GPS tracks we got from a Facebook group. In fact, we’ve gotten off track four times on the two days of this variant vs. zero in the 30 days on the other.

But taking the road less traveled is already proving to be interesting. The names of the first two stops are Helette and Esplette. Laurie said it sounds like we are throwing eggs at the wall. And, we have two questions that happen to be related:

Scott B. asked, “How will the gîte situation be going through the Pyrenees?”

One word: Yurts. No, in reality we are walking parallel to the Pyrenees for three days and then cross into Spain on the coast. We hit a lot of hills today but won’t be going over any passes. However, because we’re operating without a guidebook we have to use Google Maps, to find gîtes. It sounds easy, but isn’t, which leads us to our next question…

Debbie asked, “Are you making reservations for each night? Calling ahead that day or a couple days in advance?”

Normally we make reservations for one to two days in advance. Our guidebooks have emails and phone numbers for gîtes in our destination cities. But on this route we made reservations for all four nights because of the uncertainty. Some of the pelerins we walk with do not make reservations, but they risk having to walk farther—or even camp. Most seem to make reservations at least one or two days in advance.

On the road less traveled we left behind many friends that we will likely never see again. And I spend a lot of time checking my GPS to minimize going down roads even less traveled. The biggest change is we are deeper into the heart of Basque country and you can see it in the architecture, food, and signs that are in French and Basque. The sheep and cows don’t appear to have a Basque accent though.

Animal Friends. The sweet dog below followed us for nearly a mile. He should have been home guarding these ducks in his yard (aka future burgers or pizza toppings.) And judge for yourself if the sheep have a Basque accent.

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