Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 15: Maria, from Budapest

Dscn0304bAugust 26: In the morning, I headed down for breakfast and wished the two German girls “Good Morning”—each in their own German variation. They nodded with approval, and the blonde one told me, “Now you are accepted,” which made me laugh. I had no idea so much was riding on the line!

The woman originally from Tokyo overheard my good morning and seemed astounded telling me that it sounded absolutely perfect! She seemed slightly incredulous that I said it so well, and I got the impression that she missed the part of the conversation the night before where they had taught it me in the first place. There were a lot of conversations going on at once, though. It wouldn’t have been hard to have missed it if she was talking to someone else at the time.

When it came time to pay the bill, the owners said I should stay another night. Take a day off from hiking. It was a tempting offer. I enjoyed my time with the strange little German pianists, but I had miles to do and taking a day off wouldn’t get me any closer to Santiago. I was a little sad to leave.
Almost immediately coming out of town, I caught up with another hiker who introduced herself as Maria from Budapest. And she wasn’t just from Hungary, she walked all the way from Budapest. Someone who has actually hiked further than I have! Not only that, when she reached Santiago, she planned to go down the Portuguese trail down to Lisbon and beyond—a total of 4,000 kilometers and averaging about 40 kilometers per day.

Her English wasn’t especially good and I sometimes had trouble understanding her accent, but we fell into walking together and sharing our adventures on the trail. I didn’t want to ask her age—that seemed rude—but I was curious because she didn’t look particularly young for such a strenuous hike. She had three children and two grandchildren, but if I had to guess an age, I’d put her somewhere in her 50s at the earliest or 60s at the latest. Regardless, she had embarked on a challenge that most younger people would have trouble keeping up with. Color me impressed!

Dscn0305bAlong the way, we caught up with a guy named Jimmy and—if I remember correctly—comes from Austria. He’s apparently a ‘professional’ hiker (I use the term loosely) who’s been wandering the Camino for the past nine years. He stood out in my head, though, because I thought he looked just like Jesus. His threadbare shirt had large holes and he hiked without any shoes at all. Completely barefoot. I’ve heard of people hiking barefoot before, but this was the first person I’d met actually doing so. We caught up to him picking figs from a fig tree and he offered both of us a handful of them.

Late in the afternoon, Maria and I passed a field where they were growing melons—cantaloupe to be specific, although all the signs selling them only called them “melons.” Maria noticed one melon that had rolled away from the rest of the patch. It had a couple of small holes in it as if some sort of insect had eaten through part of it, but Maria kept it deciding we’d eat it for a late afternoon snack in Lectoure. It was delicious. =)

Not only was Maria hiking long distances, but she was also the first person I ran into on the trail who was camping outdoors most of the time. She seemed to be traveling on a severely limited budget and would only stay in gites that were by donation only and would camp out otherwise. I was thrilled to have someone to finally camp with. I think she was too. We hiked for about an hour outside of Lectoure to find a suitable place to camp. The site wasn’t perfect, but it was good. We were still close enough to civilization, though, that we could hear lots of dogs and people making noise all around us—even if we couldn’t actually see the dogs and people from our vantage point.
And I also learned how to say “Good morning!” in Hungarian. =)

The clock tower is quite visible looking back while leaving Auviller.

Lots of melons for sale in this part of France!

Maria puts my credential to shame when she
whips out hers which she’s been carrying since Budapest.

Some ruins along the trail.

We really wanted to ride the Auto Skooter, but they weren’t
running when we hiked through Miradoux. I guess we
missed the carnival!

Why do all the sunflowers in France always look so sad?

I heard that churches along the trail had tampons,
but this was the first church where I actually saw one!
And it was chained to the wall! =)
(This is my own credential—at least part of it!)



Yeah, sounds like a real friendly kind of place. =)

Late in the afternoon, we saw a couple of hot air balloons take off.

Trees along a creek.

Maria and I set up camp. =)


Anonymous said...

Wow! Looks like a perfect day. Enjoying all your post Ryan. Thanks for bring us along.

~Muddy Paws

Anonymous said...

Marta appears to be about 62. Wendy

Christie said...

Anyone else spot the "Hidden Mickey" in the picture of Maria with her credential?

--Woman to Blame

Open Space said...

I hope I'm doing something as fun and adventurous at 62! Great story and thanks for sharing your travels.